Aaron Cox has been named Participation and Development Coach of the Year at the England Golf Awards 2022 in recognition of his outstanding achievements working with juniors.
When Aaron started off as assistant professional Blackwell Grange Golf Club in Darlington he was tasked with trying to revive the junior section.
From a handful of juniors joining in lessons in those early days, Aaron now has over 120 kids involved in the club’s academy structure.
The presence of so many enthusiastic juniors around the academy has helped energise the whole club and made it one of the most vibrant set-ups in the country.
With Aaron’s help, a new six-hole academy course was constructed on site.
This has allowed the club to offer ‘on-course’ teaching to those younger players who otherwise would not be able to tackle the championship course.
The staging of Mini Majors – complete with a mini Masters Green Jacket and pint-sized Claret jug – has proved a huge hit with junior golfers.
The boys and girls who enrol for lessons are taught according to Aaron’s ‘Junior Development Book’ which takes kids through a seven-stage process of learning the game of golf.
This process includes topics ranging from developing skills and undertaking challenges to the mental and physical aspects of the sport.
Everything is done in a fun environment with the values of golf etiquette and rules all looked at in a relaxed way.
The club has also embraced England Golf’s Girls Golf Rocks programme – specifically designed to introduce beginner girls aged 5-18 to the game.
And not even the pandemic could halt Aaron from hosting regular coaching sessions via Zoom.
After picking up his award, Aaron explained his approach to getting youngsters into golf.
He said: “It’s a case of getting off the couch and finding kids…I went to primary schools having made calls and sent emails and then went into the receptions so they could put a face to a name.
“I just wanted kids to play golf as we had the facilities at Blackwell Grange.
“It was then up to me to try and retain them and to create a product that the kids and parents would believe in. And also to make sure the kids could see themselves getting better.
“Being able to build the six-hole course let me create an order of merit season for kids aged 5-11 playing 12-hole competitions on their own little course.
“It was lots of work, but it’s not a job to me. I love doing it.
“Golf gives kids the confidence to talk to their peers, to talk with adults and members.
“It’s also about discipline. If the kids follow the processes I’ve taught them over three years then they believe the process and trust it and get confidence doing it. Confidence then goes into the classroom and home and when they are among other kids.
“You also have to make it fun for them at the end of the day.”