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.
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
Extensive knowledge of golf, students, and golf instruction
Avid and enthusiastic listener and learner
Extensive teaching experience (minimum of 10 years)
Extensive playing experience
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