A team of 22 PGA pros delivered upwards of 3,000 coaching sessions at the R&A Swing Zone during The Open Championship week. Golfers of all ages and abilities were able to grab a free 15 minutes session, on all aspects of the game from the swing through to the short game. Heather Gaunt, Scotland’s PGA coach education and development manager, oversaw the smooth running of the six indoor bays, three outdoor nets and a Huxley putting green.
Several of the pros also rearranged commitments to staff the Swing Zone on the Monday following the extension of play due to the weather disruptions on Friday and Saturday. One standout moment came when a dad brought his young lad for his first lesson and was allocated Peter Ball – the coach at Balborough Links in Derbyshire and the man who helped coach one of the Open stars, Danny Willett as a youngster. “Not ‘the’ Peter Ball”, said the father who it transpired had himself been given his first taste of golf with Ball many years previously.
Gaunt commented, “One of the best things has been the feedback we have had from the people who’ve had a coaching session. People have actually taken the time to come back and say how great an experience they’d had in the 15 minute sessions.”
The full list of coaches who deserve praise for helping the 144th Open Championship go with a swing are: Pete Ball (Balborough Links), Alan Bradshaw (Bootle), James Crawford (West Sussex), Jamie Cundy (Dudley), Lee Day (Holme Hall), Geraint Dixon (Bedfordshire), Garry Forrester (St Andrews), Tom Gibbs (Three Hammers), Martin Goldie (Bishopbriggs), Denise Hastings (Denise Hastings Golf School), Sam Johnson (Fulford Heath), Ben Jones (Garon Park), Graham Mackay (Melville), Allan Martin (Buchanan Castle), James Morrow (Chartham Park), John Mulgrew (Airdrie), Julie Otto (Elie), Steve Scott- Bowen (The Bristol), Andrew Simmonds (South Buckinghamshire Academy), Mark Taylor (Alvaston), Darren Turner (Ingrebourne) and Ron Wallace.