By Mark Townsend published
Fifteen years ago we launched the inaugural list of our Top 25 UK Coaches. With help from the Sports Instruction Research Laboratory at the University of Georgia (the group behind Golf Magazine’s Top 100 US Coaches), we went through a rigorous process to find the 25 who we felt were the best.
We have now extended that list to 50. Our content and our audiences are diverse and so we are focused on putting diversity, equality and inclusion at the centre of our company culture and wanted this new panel of coaches to better reflect our mission to serve our audience. The list not only covers coaches who offer face-to-face lessons but, with the likes of Rick Shiels and Peter Finch included, it also embraces the online world so we can all keep learning from the comfort of our armchairs.
The criteria includes having a minimum of three years’ teaching experience, any golfer should be able to book a lesson with you and you must be based at a club or facility in the UK. Coaches were nominated by their students and had to fill out a questionnaire designed by Dr Paul Schempp of the University of Georgia.
“The foundation of being a great teacher comes from three areas,” explains Schempp. “First, the skills. Top teachers have a more fine set of skills than less-effective ones. Then comes knowledge, but more than just knowledge of the swing. We try and look for knowledge of the game and the history, architecture, psychology and their students rather than just focusing on the swing.
"So many instructors are just looking at a swing and not looking at a golfer, and for the best ones, like Butch Harmon, it’s about getting to know the person first so they best understand how to teach that person. He [Harmon] said he didn’t teach golf and he backed it up by saying he teaches people to play golf and that made all the sense in the world.
“The player/student relationship is crucial. Cam McCormick has worked with Jordan Spieth since he was 12 and they are friends as well as anything else. All the good coaches understand the player. When you know somebody you know what to say, when to say it and how to say it and, probably most importantly, when to say nothing at all.
“The third area is experience: you want people with a variety of experiences with different levels of golfers, not just top golfers. So many of us play golf – children, women, low handicappers, high handicappers, people with disabilities – and being able to coach everyone indicates that you’re a great teacher.”
Read the full Q&A with Dr Paul Schempp about the process.
The judging process then began and we now have our new list of our Top 50 UK Coaches - see below.
The New Top 50 Golf Coaches
(in alphabetical order)
Gary Alliss Various locations, south coast
Paul Ashwell St Ives Golf Club, Cambridgeshire
Kristian Baker Sunningdale Heath Golf Club, Berkshire
Douglas Bell Down Royal Park, County Antrim
Sarah Bennett Three Rivers Golf & Country Club, Essex
Alex Buckner Reigate Hill Golf Club, Surrey
Ian Clark World of Golf, Surrey
Nathan Cook Skylark Golf & Country Club, Hampshire
Russell Covey Bath Golf Club, Somerset
Alistair Davies Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Warwickshire
Katie Dawkins Freelance, Wiltshire
Andy Dunbar Stratford Oaks Golf Club, Warwickshire
Alex Elliott Mottram Hall Golf Club, Cheshire
Ben Emerson Sand Martins Golf Club, Berkshire
Adrienne Engleman Colmworth Golf Club, Bedfordshire
Peter Finch North-west England
Paul Foston Paul Foston Golf Academy, Kent
Andy Gorman Wishaw Golf Club, West Midlands
Dan Grieve Woburn Golf Club, Milton Keynes
Adam Harnett Blacknest Golf & Country Club, Hampshire
John Howells JCB Golf & Country Club, Staffordshire
John Jacobs Cumberwell Park, Wiltshire
James Jankowski Old Fold Manor Golf Club, Hertfordshire
Andrew Jones Nevill Golf Club, Kent
Lysa Jones Walker’s Golf Academy, Yorkshire
Andy Little Club Fourteen Golf Studio, Surrey
Anders Mankert Leicester Golf Centre, Leicestershire
Neil Marr Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course, Aberdeenshire
Norman Marshall Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa, Merseyside
Joshua Mayo Windmill Leisure, Bristol
Tom Motley The Kendleshire, Bristol
Gary Munro Pitch Golf London
Trey Niven Shrewsbury Golf Club, Shropshire, & 3 Hammers Golf Academy, West Midlands
Steve North St Andrews Links Golf Academy, Fife
Murray Patterson Cruden Bay Golf Club, Aberdeenshire
Neil Plimmer Various locations
Barney Puttick Mid Herts Golf Club, Hertfordshire
Tom Reid Sunningdale Heath, Berkshire
Andrew Reynolds Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club, Kent
Steve Robinson Sandburn Hall Golf Club, York
Zane Scotland ZS Academy, Surrey
Rick Shiels North-west England
Gary Smith Sutton Green Golf Club, Surrey
Jo Taylor Walton Heath Golf Club, Surrey
David Torrance Forres Golf Club, Moray
Clive Tucker Mannings Heath Golf Club, West Sussex & South Essex Golf Club, Essex
Ged Walters True Fit Golf Centre, Cheshire
Rob Watts Castle Royle Golf & Country Club, Berkshire
Kevan Whitson Royal County Down Golf Club, County Down
Keith Wood Golfsmart International, Hertfordshire
Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.
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