Four inspirational coaches who have taken the game to thousands of people are the finalists for the England Golf Coach of the Year Award, sponsored by the PGA.
They are Phil Akers of The Belfry, Warwickshire, Aaron Lansberry of Hatchford Brook Golf Centre, near Birmingham, Anders Mankert of Cosby Golf Club, Leicestershire and Matthew Turnock of Mottram Hall Golf Club, Cheshire.
Their achievements will be recognised when the winner is announced at the sell-out England Golf Awards 2018 at the Royal Lancaster London on 22 February.
England Golf Chief Executive Nick Pink commented: “These four coaches are absolutely inspirational in the way they grow the game. They go out into the community to share the pleasures of golf with people of all ages and backgrounds, who otherwise might not try it. Their success is of great benefit to their clubs, which gain new members as a result, and to the sport as a whole.”
Phil Akers, The Belfry, Warwickshire
Akers has introduced over 1500 newcomers to golf since he joined The Belfry less than two years ago, and helped develop thriving club sections for juniors, women, improvers and advanced players.
He started by working with local schoolchildren and more than 70 have joined his junior programme. Half of them are now members at The Belfry – and many of their parents have also taken up the game. Akers plans to build on this with a new schools’ coaching programme for 2018.
Last year he introduced other programmes, including the successful This Girl Can Golf, which has resulted in 20 women taking weekly coaching sessions. His Start Golf programme attracted over 500 new players, learning basic skills to prepare for the Progress Golf class.
Akers’ overall goal is to become a European Tour coach and his passion for growing the game has attracted talented young golfers who have helped The Belfry’s junior membership grow by 29 in the last year, six of whom now represent their county.
Aaron Lansberry of Hatchford Brook Golf Centre, near Birmingham
Lansberry has been passionate about golf since he started playing as a small child and is now a full-time coach who concentrates on growing the grassroots game.
He’s particularly keen on family, community and junior golf. He launched his first junior sessions in 2011, after becoming a PGA professional and graduating from Birmingham University with a degree in Applied Golf Management Studies.
He started with eight juniors and now coaches 120 youngsters at the club and takes the game to schools, community and sports centres, where he involves both adults and children. He likes to encourage parents to join in, believing that if more of the family play golf they are more likely to stay in the game. Lansberry has also been asked to train fellow professionals on best practice for juniors.
He has also recently been involved with projects to get more adults from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds into the game, as well as people with visual impairments.
Anders Mankert of Cosby Golf Club, Leicestershire
Mankert is a coach who changes lives, according to those who nominated him for this award.
“We are nominating Anders for being a unique inspiration and primarily for introducing us to the sport which has changed our life,” said blind and visually impaired supporters. “He genuinely cares about growing the game, regardless of the standard of player he is coaching,” said another nominator.
Mankert, an Advanced Fellow of the PGA, is passionate about increasing accessibility to golf for disabled people. He has coached and supported blind and visually impaired golfers free of charge for over 20 years and they shower him with plaudits, telling how he has raised their confidence and changed their quality of life.
At his club Mankert encourages juniors with a scholarship scheme offering a year’s free coaching and mentoring. One now plays on the European Tour, another is a PGA professional and yet another is in England training. He also makes himself available to all, starting teaching at 7am to fit in with work and family commitments.
Matthew Turnock of Mottram Hall Golf Club, Cheshire
Turnock has inspired thousands of children and adults to try golf and supports new players as they get into the game.
Over the last eight years he has worked with 50 schools, providing TriGolf sessions to 2000 children, giving many of them their first taste of golf and its benefits. Those who’d like to take the game further are encouraged to join his coaching academy and take out club membership, which is free for juniors.
Turnock also aims to get more adults into the game and his Get into Golf courses successfully attracted 44 new members last year. He’s involved with the Stroke Association’s Get into Golf initiative, working with stroke surivivors to assist their rehabilitation. He also gained funding for a programme with four local disability groups which inspired 50 people to try the sport.
Turnock is Mottram Hall’s junior organiser, running the new and rapidly growing junior section, and also the club’s competition manager, coming up with a range of formats to increase enjoyment and participation.