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Prestigious award for golf pro

Sheffield golf professional Gareth Davies is proving life begins at almost 40 after changing the direction of his career from playing to coaching.

The 39-year-old, who is head teaching professional at Abbeydale Golf Club in Sheffield, has been named the Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year.

In recognition of his achievement, Davies collected the Whitcombe Cox Trophy and a cheque for £3,500 from Jeremy Tomlinson, managing director Acushnet EMEA, and PGA Master Professional Denis Pugh, the guest of honour at the PGA Graduation Ceremony held at the University of Birmingham.

Christopher Hamilton (Wyke Green) was second and James Harper (The Wynyard) third. Myerscough’s Michael Lander was top of Year Two while Ben Wilkinson (Royal Winchester) won the Rookie of the Year award.

Davies was Rookie of the Year in 2015 and his bank balance was given a further boost when he received a cheque for £1,500 from Golf Pride for finishing first in the equipment technology exams.

“The money will come in handy because we are moving house in a few weeks and we also have a child who will be two in June,” explained Davies, winner of the PGA Assistants’ Championship in 2015.

Davies joined the professional ranks in 2001 after playing for England and Yorkshire and competed on the EuroPro, Sunshine and European Challenge tours – winning twice on the latter.

“I followed up with four top three places in 2006 when I finished in the top 15 which got me on to the main tour,” he recalled. Unfortunately, his run of form ended with a back injury the following year when he lost his card,

“I’d competed in about 35 events but my form deserted me and I just played occasionally after that,” he explained. “I’d got to the point where I needed to do something else but I wanted to stay in golf. I realised I had to do my PGA training if I wanted to coach or take whatever route I chose. I enjoy coaching at Abbeydale. We are really moving things forward by expanding the junior programmes through our coaching initiatives.

The PGA Training Programme, encompassing the three year Foundation Degree, was founded more than 50 years ago and covers all aspects of golf including business, equipment technology and repairs, rules and tournament organisation, sports science and sports psychology.

Training and education remain an integral part of The PGA – it also runs an honours degree in association with the University of Birmingham and last year launched a new partnership with the University of Highlands and Islands in Scotland.

PGA chief executive Rob Maxfield added: “The PGA Graduation day is always inspirational and gives me great confidence each year the game of golf is in good hands for generations to come. The quality of the graduates coming through our PGA Training Programme is second to none and there’s no doubt they are starting at the beginning of their careers which could take them to almost any corner of the world.”

Matthew Johnson, Titleist brand director, said: “We are pleased to continue our support of the Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year award, recognising this as a starting point of the PGA’s commitment to provide its members with a framework for lifelong learning.

“Titleist has had a long standing commitment to PGA Professionals, we realise and endorse that they play a key role in the development and growth of the game across all levels. So we are delighted to support the next generation of qualified professionals, we look forward to working with them and would like wish them well with their future careers.”

Picture: (from left) Matthew Johnson, Titleist brand director; Denis Pugh, PGA Master Professional; Gareth Davies; and John Heggarty, PGA captain.