The national coach

David Orr competed on the European Tour before deciding to concentrate on becoming the best coach he could be. He offers advice on building up a good coaching reputation, explains how he came to coach at a national level and why he is always striving to improve himself.

How important is coaching as part of a PGA pros offering?
I’ve come 360 degrees if you like from playing Challenge and European Tour where I played over 50 events to the EuroPro Tour where I was successful and won four times. Then the financial pressures of travelling kicked in and a young family came along, so I decided to embark on a teaching career and try to be the best coach that I could be. I think it helps me as a coach that I have a very strong playing pedigree and that assisted in the early stages of building a database of clients. I think being a good player means that people will come to me, but it doesn’t mean that they will stay; it’s up to me to get them to buy into the process.

I wanted to surround myself with people who knew a lot more than I did, I wanted to get my qualifications and learn. I worked at a local golf academy called Mearns Castle for four years and built up a good database of over 250 clients. I brought that business over to a private members’ golf course three miles away from my previous job and the database and relationships that I have fits very nicely. The relationship with clients and having them trust you is key. A big part of my business now is custom fitting and that trust carriers over, so coaching definitely has big enhancements to my overall business.

How has your coaching business developed?
Doing well for people and then getting word of mouth works really well and that’s what happened with me. When you look after people you find that more and more people come to you. I coach complete beginners, juniors and more elite players, so the full spectrum of player. Everyone is different so I don’t have methods; I have philosophies. I very much coach the individual in front of me and give them more information and clarity regarding what they are doing and what the corrections are. I tap into the technical movement a lot and the psychology of the process as well as the lifestyle; the more information I have about someone then the more I can do to make them better.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 09.20.07What advice would you give to new Pros looking to coach at a more elite level?
Get as qualified and as much knowledge as you possibly can. Another key side is how you market yourself, so put on some clinics and workshops to get people through the door. It’s important to understand the physical side of things, the biomechanics, and also the psychology and how that affects the player. One of the things that is key is developing an individual programme for each client which is tailored depending on their ambitions. A training programme for a casual player looks very different to someone who wants to be an elite player. It’s important to scrutinise all aspects of a training programme and understand the purpose of all aspects of it.

How did you get into coaching at country and national level?
The county came to myself and another pro, Mark Loftus, and we are now in the process of building up the county programme and trying to make it the best in the country. They asked me to coach under 14 and under 16 junior development so at the moment we coach those kids at my current golf club once or twice a month and a few of the young boys have joined as members, so there is another benefit for the club. Coaching at a national level happened around three years after working at the golf academy – again the playing side helped and also that people saw what I was doing with player development. I was approached by Scottish Golf about becoming a Regional coach for them and then my position developed and I tend to travel with the men’s squads and work on talent ID days with junior players, so it is very much a full overview of all levels of coaching.

What are your future ambitions regarding coaching?
I work grassroots with two schools, have a training programme for juniors at the golf club with the academy and I’m also a county coach and coach nationally; I get to see the whole pathway and development. I’d like to continue learning; I was at a seminar recently on skill acquisition and motor skill learning so I’m looking to continue to develop my knowledge so I can then pass this onto players to make them better. I’m not standing still, but working hard to develop my business and my skills.