Lysa’s learning curve expands with UK Sport leadership programme

Lysa Jones has admitted she’s thrilled to be flying the flag for England Golf on UK Sport’s new female coaches leadership programme.

A regional under 18 boys’ coach in the East Midlands, Jones has joined up with 26 women from 14 other sports as part of a plan to more than double female representation in the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community by Paris 2024.

The highly respected Jones will be mentored by Claire Morrison (from the Olympic sport of boccia) for the six-month programme as she continues down a road of learning that she hopes will inspire many more women to follow her career path into golf.

Having started playing the game as a 14-year-old after diverting from her favoured sports of horse riding and cycling, Jones has never looked back.

In fact, she has spent her whole career committed to driving the game forward and to be the best she can be in her chosen profession.

“I fell in love with golf as a  teenager,” admitted Jones.

“My dad asked me if I wanted to learn the game and my reaction was ‘what’s that crazy sport?’

“But very quickly I grew to love it and became pretty good at it and I’ve been hooked very since.

“I became an assistant pro, played in WPGA events and a few on the Ladies’ European Tour, but deep down I knew I wanted to be a high-performance coach.”

Jones now works alongside another England Golf coach – renowned short-game expert Graham Walker – at his academy based at The Oaks in Yorkshire.

And she credits him with helping her career develop over the years.

“Some 17 years ago now I got the chance to work with Graham and have never looked back,” confirmed Jones

“Graham has been brilliant for me and I remember when I first applied for a job as a regional coach with the England boys’ squad.

“I wasn’t sure I’d get it as a women, but Graham set me straight and told me not to think about male or female candidates, simply to focus on being a coach.

“I ended up getting the job and it’s been a fantastic journey.

“Players such as Ben Jones and Callum Farr (pictured below) – now named in the initial Walker Cup squad for this year – were in some of my early groups and I take great pride in seeing them develop.

“But I’ve always had a drive to keep developing and pushing myself. I’ve always had that appetite to learn and although I’m a coach, I’m not afraid to also be a pupil and learn new things.

“I’m intrigued to pick up ideas from other sports that will help me grow as a coach.

“Golf is a puzzle and you have to fit all the pieces together – it doesn’t matter if you are teaching a beginner, an elite amateur or a pro. You learn to coach who is in front of you and adapt as you go along.”

In 2019, Jones fought back bravely from breast cancer with the help of her friends in the golfing community and now lives every day to the full.

“The support I had from fellow coaches was unbelieveable,” she added. “Life is like coaching – you learn to bounce back from setbacks and I’m positive about what lies ahead.”

During the UK Sport programme, Jones will focus on three key areas; leadership, environment and transition, all of which are fundamental to the coaching development journey.

Sally Munday, CEO at UK Sport, said: “We have an amazing group of coach leaders, who are the trailblazers and the people doing it now, and the opportunity for the 19 promising coaches to learn from them – as well as each other – is going to be incredible.

“I believe that each of the participants will become role models for the next generation of coaches and will truly enable us to reach our aims and ambitions for female coaches.”

Only 10% of high-performance coaches in the UK are women.

The leadership programme forms part of UK Sport’s long-term plan to address the current under-representation of female coaches at all levels of the talent pathway within the high-performance community.