Steve Robinson named England Golf Coach of the Year
PGA Professional Steve Robinson has spoken of his pride at being crowned Coach of the Year at the England Golf Performance Awards 2021.
The Yorkshireman picked up the accolade after coaching the England women’s squad to their third European team title in six years with a thrilling victory at Royal County Down Golf Club in July.
England entered the event as underdogs but, after coming through the stroke play qualifying round and beating Scotland and the Czech Republic in the knockout stages, Robinson and his team overcame a Sweden side rated as one of the strongest ever to be assembled at elite amateur level.
Robinson – the national women’s performance coach who is based at Sandburn Hall Golf Club in York – said: “I’m hugely honoured on behalf of our whole performance team.
“As coaches, we’ve gone through a really tough time in the last two years and the support we’ve had from England Golf has been first class.
“I’d like to thank Jenny Henderson who was captain at Royal County Down – we prepared better than any other team there.
“I knew the course and while we got there late, we walked the last four holes and knew they’d be crucial.
“We sat up one evening cutting up greens maps until 11pm and stapling them together by hand.
“It’s one of those marginal gains we had that other teams didn’t.
“We were aware going to Northern Ireland that we were likely to be the only English team playing in the Europeans (due to uncertainty over foreign travel) and we wanted to put on a good performance.
“We started to believe more and more we could beat anybody and to play Sweden in the final was the match we wanted.
“We believed that if we got something out of the morning foursomes we could win and we managed to do that.
“Every woman had the belief they could win. Most of all I’d like to thank the team – they battled.”
Robinson was not the only award recipient at the online ceremony. There were four other awards voted on by the England Golf performance department led by Nigel Edwards, performance director.
Rob Kedzlie from the Midlands region was named Volunteer of the Year and Durham’s Chris Pascall was honoured for her contribution to coaching excellence.
Thames Valley was named Girls’ Region of the Year while the boys’ regional title went to the West Midlands.
Five to make R&A Swingzone debuts at St Andrews
There will be five newcomers in the 29-strong team of PGA Professionals who will once again provide free coaching lessons throughout the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.
While the world’s elite battle it out for the Claret Jug on the famous Old Course, the PGA team will deliver thousands of 15-minute lessons to spectators across eight days at The R&A Swingzone.
The quintet of debutants includes Zoe North from Rugby Golf Club, Warwickshire.
“I am so excited and proud to be representing The PGA in The R&A Swingzone at the 150th Open Championship,” said the 29-year-old.
“I am really looking forward to coaching alongside my friends and fellow PGA Professionals. It’s opportunities like this where we can all meet up and share our coaching ideas to ensure we continue to grow this wonderful game.
“Being able to be a part of this team means such a lot to me. It gives me the ability to hopefully inspire those attending to give golf a go themselves, and maybe take up the sport in the future.”
Thomas Devine (Oulton Hall Golf Academy), 31, is also making his R&A Swingzone debut. He said: “I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while but to get chosen to coach at the Home of Golf makes it extra special.
“I’m looking forward to meeting and chatting to lots of new golfers - if we can inspire some to come and try this great game, then that would be awesome.”
Stuart Fisher (Portpatrick Dunskey Golf Club) is another debutant relishing next year’s Open Championship.
He commented: “Being a part of The R&A Swingzone team is a huge opportunity for me to gain amazing experience and to meet lots of new coaches and share knowledge and ideas.
“I’m also really excited for the unique challenge of a conveyor belt style of lessons where you get a fresh client every 15 minutes, quickly trying to identify their weaknesses and diagnose them all in a short space of time.
“It’s a huge honour and a fantastic opportunity to be representing The PGA at the 2022 Open Championship and feels even more special that it’s being played at the Home of Golf.
“It’s a great opportunity to show again why golfers of all ages and ability levels should put their trust in PGA Professionals as we continue to strive to be the best and deliver the highest standard possible.”
There will also be some familiar faces in the PGA team, including the Association’s Captain-elect Sarah Bennett, Master Professionals Peter Ball and John Mulgrew, and former European Tour player Fame Tate.
Allan Martin, PGA coach education manager – Scotland and organiser of the R&A Swingzone, commented: “It is an absolute privilege to have such a diverse and inclusive team of PGA Members coaching at The R&A Swingzone at St Andrews for the 150th Open Championship.
“Spectators taking advantage of the opportunity to be coached free of charge by a PGA Professional will, have a wholly positive, inclusive and unforgettable experience which will live up to The PGA’s continuing commitment of ‘Making Golf Happen’.
“The combined coaching expertise of The R&A Swingzone team cements our place at the heart of golf. The 2022 team may see the nurturing of a future Open Champion, whilst the continuing coaching legacy of the PGA Professional will be apparent in the coaching journey of many of those competing in the 150th Open.”
The full complement of PGA pros at St. Andrews is: Jak Hamblett, David Bartlett, Alistair Welsher, Peter Ball, Stuart Fisher, Alan Bradshaw, Alex Mollin, Martin Goldie, John Mulgrew, Sarah Attwood, Zoe North, Alison Perkins, Denise Hastings, David Playdon, Ian Bailey, Matt Stables, Paul Warner, Fame Tate, Sarah Bennett, Kevin Caplehorn, Jamie Cundy, Barney Wytchard, Callum Beveridge, David Gleeson, Thomas Devine, John Murray, Matt Tucknott, Joanne Taylor, Tom Gibbs and Geraint Dixon.
Great Scott! Macaskill becomes PGA’s 100th Director of Golf
Scott Macaskill has not only enhanced his career prospects and improved his management technique by attaining the PGA’s director of golf qualification but also created a milestone by becoming the 100th pro to complete the course successfully.
In doing so, Macaskill joins three other pros who have made a little bit of history since the course was launched 14 years ago, namely Stuart Leech, Sarah Walton, and Katie Rule.
Walton was the first woman to pass the course; Rule, to date, is the youngest of either gender to achieve the qualification; while Leech set the ball rolling in 2007 after PGA Master Professional John Mulgrew had championed the idea.
“I approached the PGA to try and convince them that there was a need for this qualification,” recalled Mulgrew, a tutor and course mentor.
“The PGA Professional is normally the first point of contact at any golf club, and it always annoyed me they were never asked for their opinion on any golf club related business.
“Some clubs have had to streamline their workforce and many pros have either lost their positions or have been asked to take on greater responsibilities within the club.”
Leech, as secretary/manager at Formby Golf Club, Merseyside, typifies that scenario, as does Macaskill, the director of golf operations at Boringdon Park, Plymouth.
Working in tandem with two other pros who were with him at American Golf in Plymouth, the 46-year-old is primarily involved in the administrative side at the club which, boasting 18 and nine-hole courses plus a driving range, is perched on a hill overlooking the city.
“We run the pro shop for the owner, look after the golf administration such as membership, run competitions and golf days,” he explained. “I also enjoy coaching, so I keep my hand in there.
“But I was keen to develop my career, so studying for the director of golf qualification was a good opportunity to broaden my knowledge.”
In terms of broadening his and the knowledge of his fellow Members, the course involves three stages: an Induction Day, the PGA Certificate of Golf Management Theory, and the PGA Director of Golf Qualification itself.
Students are assessed on seven units, ranging from finance and marketing to personal management and customer service.
“It was a bit of challenge as I’m 46 and hadn’t studied for ages,” Macaskill continued. “I was doing it on my days off, mainly, and it was challenging at times because you’re working on your own.
“But you know a lot of it because you’re in that environment and the tutors are very good.
“I was assigned to Mansell Richards who I found very approachable – I could ring or email him, and he’d come straight back.
“A lot of it is just knowing the direction they want you to go. Sometimes the questions can be open-ended, so it was a case of making sure I was on the right track.
“In doing the course I found it made me refocus on what I was currently doing – what I was doing well and the areas I wasn’t doing as well as I could. You develop a fresh perspective in your own role and this encourages positive changes.
“As a result, I’ve introduced a few things I didn’t have in place before and re-examined others, such as refreshing our risk assessment and course policies.
“Business-wise, you’re given a manual and revisit things like sales and marketing and cover things you may have forgotten, so that’s been really helpful.
“And during lockdown I cleared out all the folders on my computer and got everything organised. I got everything in place that I had learned and streamlined things.”
Macaskill reckons negotiating the course successfully involved at least 20 to 30 full days of study spread over five months, plus a lot of reading to establish answers to some of the questions. All of which came at a cost of £1,500.
However, he feels the investment in both time and money was well spent.
“It’s helped me massively with my current role,” he confirmed. “I’ve improved a lot in the areas that were weak and feel much better equipped to take on more responsibilities.
“I’ve put what I learned to good use on the admin side plus sales and marketing; and it’s also helped in training our assistants.
“If you’re in my sort of role, it helps in all aspects of the job and improves your prospects for the future. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”