Golf Monthly Top 25 Coaches

In 2004 Golf Monthly set out to compile a list of the top British and Irish coaches. A group of around 120 nominated pros was whittled down to 25 as our judgement process assessed their ability to communiate with golfers of all ages and abilities.

Whether you’re a beginner or you’re Tiger Woods makes no difference – you want to improve. This single ambition drives our collective love affair with the game, keeping us coming back week after week, enticing us into spending our hard-earned cash on shiny new gear. But if you are really dedicated to making a lasting improvement, nothing can make an impact quite like a good coach.

In December 2004, Golf Monthly chose to celebrate genuine coaching talent. The aim was to recognise the achievements of those who rarely capture the limelight but whose tireless work maximises the enjoyment of all their pupils. So Golf Monthly’s Top 25 UK Coaches list was born and since then these carefully selected experts have provided the core instruction for the magazine, ensuring that the advice we print is of the highest standard.

After two years, we felt it was right to refresh the list, so we decided to free up five places for new entries. Those who made way did so, not because the standard of their coaching had dropped, but rather because it had often become impossible for ordinary golfers to get lesson time or they simply had too many other commitments to be able to get as invloved in the scheme as they would have liked. So with five spaces up for grabs, we were able to recognise those coaches deserving of a place on the list without upsetting the continuity that we had already established.

See the list of the Top 25 Coaches

How prospective Top 25 Coaches were assessed

Back in June we launched an appeal in Golf Monthly, empowering our readers to nominate their favourite local and national coaches. A huge response gave us a broad spectrum of highly regarded and extremely well-loved pros to choose from. But how can you truly tell if one coach is better than another? Judging the merits of a good teacher is often largely subjective and we felt that for the list to really work we needed some strict direction of our own. So we turned to Dr Paul Schempp, the laboratory director at the University of Georgia’s Sport Instruction Research Lab. He was the brains behind the American Golf Magazine’s top 100 coaches and he also helped us devise our own original Top 25 UK Coaches list back in December 2004. His influence was to give the whole process a profoundly scientific framework. Based on his extensive research into what makes a good sports instructor, Dr Schempp compiled a questionnaire that was sent to all our nominated coaches. Their answers gave us the criteria and information we needed to judge their capabilities. To help us decide on the final 25, we put together a panel of judges comprising representatives from the golfing unions of England, Wales and Scotland, as well as the Ladies Golf Union. However, before the judging began, Dr Schempp offered the panel some crucial advice on the specific points to look for. This provided the structure around which the applications were judged. The panel on the right outlines the advice Dr Schempp gave.

The final outcome

After a difficult but rewarding day evaluating the merits of each applicant, five new names were carefully chosen to give Golf Monthly’s list of the Top 25 UK Coaches a new look for 2007. On the opposite page, we proudly introduce the five men we are welcoming to the team and we are supremely confident that they will help take your game to the next level…

What makes a great coach

Knowledge

Extensive knowledge of golf, students, and golf instruction

Avid and enthusiastic listener and learner

Experience

Extensive teaching experience (minimum of 10 years)

Extensive playing experience

Teaching

Significant portion of lesson devoted to learning about the student

Sets only one or two goals per lesson

Analyses strengths and weaknesses, but only tells student what they do well and what they can do to improve

Finds the single, most important thing to tell a student that will make the biggest difference to the his or her performance

Uses few words, but can convey a single idea in many different ways

An intuitive decision maker

Has highly developed routines and rituals

Closes the lesson with:

– student success

– a review of important learning cues

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."


Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X