Sussex PGA professional Ben Knight, who has introduced countless juniors and adults to the joys of golf, has been named as England Golf’s Club Coach of the Year.
Knight, from Chartham Park Golf Club, was recognised last night at the 2017 England Golf Awards at Lord’s. The runner-up was James Verrall of Haywards Heath Golf Club, also in Sussex.
The awards shone the spotlight shone on great moments and achievement at all levels of English golf and Knight was honoured alongside Olympic champion Justin Rose, Masters champion Danny Willett and Solheim Cup player Charley Hull, as well as other players and heroes from the grass roots game.
“It’s brilliant if people think you do a good job and it means such a lot to be recognised,” said Knight, who has coached at Chartham Park for 18 years.
He was nominated by Alan Covey, the Sussex boys’ manager, who applauded his passion for the game and said: “Ben has always gone that extra yard.”
Knight works with golfers of all ages, coaching and encouraging juniors and adults, both at the club and in the wider community. “I think there’s a responsibility to take golf out into the community, to people who haven’t had the chance to experience it,” he said.
So, he runs seven breakfast and after-school clubs every week in local primary schools and, over this half term, he’s taking golfing PE lessons in three schools.
At the club he coaches juniors and adults, runs a WhatsApp group to connect women beginners, and works with the club to make sure there are suitable playing opportunities for golfers of all abilities.
He likes to get new players on the course as soon as possible, “giving them every opportunity to fall in love with the game, rather than just learning a swing.” One of the features of the Chartham Park calendar is regular afternoons when the course is given over to families to come and try the game on shortened layouts, without any regard for dress codes!
Knight’s satisfaction comes from seeing his pupils enjoy their golf game and their improvement and he particularly likes the benefits it brings to youngsters. “They are out in the fresh air, exercising and learning skills that are going to benefit the community,” he said. “It also helps when I see them do well and win!”
He also points out: “We’ve got four members who are at college in the States, they’ve gone through our set up and used it to gain further education.”
Knight is a highly qualified coach. He was one of the first PGA pros in the country to achieve the Level 4 coaching award, at the same time as he completed a post graduate diploma in sports coaching through Birmingham University. “I don’t like not knowing the answer to something,” he laughed.
He is also closely involved with the Sussex Golf union and, having coached the U14s for 10 years, is now the county’s lead junior coach.
Caption: Ben Knight receives his award from Sandy Jones Chief Executive of the PGA. (Image © Leaderboard Photography)