Not many people would curtail their dream honeymoon to go back to work but that’s exactly what PGA Professional Oliver Barnes did so that he could provide free golf lessons in The Open Swingzone.
Barnes married Great Britain cyclist Victoria Williamson in Norfolk at the beginning of July after they met at their local gym.
The pair enjoyed an exotic honeymoon in Dubai and Bali where they were able to unwind and spend some valuable time together given their busy schedules.
Being a PGA Professional coach at The Mere Golf Resort & Spa in Knutsford keeps Barnes busy while Victoria is a member of the British cycling team.
But Barnes was adamant their busy summer schedule involved him being at The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
“I said from day one that I wanted to make sure that I was back for the Swingzone,” said 30-year-old Barnes.
“I wanted to be back for The Open because this is the biggest event in my calendar and I think as a golfer it’s a really important one for me to attend.
“I certainly put a priority on this, which didn’t go down so well with her but some things you’ve got to insist on!”
Like most young golfers, Barnes had aspirations to turn professional after taking up golf through the influence of his father.
He realised a career as a player was not going to materialise, so he opted down The PGA route after being inspired by coaches himself.
“My local PGA Professional got me into it and I’ve always had PGA Professionals coaching me. They were role models then and they’re still role models now.
“They did so much for me and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity they gave me really.”
Barnes speaks with a genuine passion for coaching and he got his first taste of the Swingzone at Royal Troon last year. He was immediately hooked.
“It’s always great to come and work at The Open because it’s one of the biggest events in the world.
“There’s nothing better for me than watching people play this great game. Whether it’s improving good golfers or those that have never played before, it’s always a great week.
“I think all PGA pros understand how the business works and that we all need to work together. You get together as a group and learn off one another and create a good, solid bond if you like.”
Although Barnes himself didn’t make it as a professional golfer, he takes pride in talking about his wife’s success as part of the Great Britain cycling team.
Victoria’s achievements include winning a bronze medal in the team sprint at the World Cup in Mexico and she also won a silver medal at the Track World Cup in Manchester.
A serious injury has hampered her progress, but Barnes has taken inspiration from watching his wife overcome adversity and get in shape to compete for her country again.
“It’s amazing to watch someone who is so dedicated to their sport and to get to the top level.
“Unfortunately last year she had a serious injury and watching her come back from injury is one of the most inspirational things I’ve ever seen. What she has done inspires me every day.
“In any sport if you want to be at the top level that dedication has to be there. I’d have done the same thing if I was playing full-time and it was my career – that’s part of any elite sport really.”
As well as coaching at The Mere Golf Resort & Spa, Barnes also travels the world watching Victoria in action.
And he would be delighted to see her achieve the almost impossible by returning from injury and competing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“I went to Greece a few years ago and went to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland and I plan to go to Australia next year to watch her at the Commonwealth Games again.
“Hopefully Tokyo 2020 too which would be great. That’s her target.
“I keep telling her it will be a great book if she gets a medal there because what’s she’s been through and where she’s getting to would be an amazing story.”
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