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PGA pros at the Open – James Morrow

Chartham Park’s James Morrow is one of the passionate PGA pros who will be among the unheralded heroes helping this year’s Open Championship go with a swing by giving thousands of free coaching sessions at the R&A Swing Zone at St Andrews.

PGA.info finds what makes this PGA coach tick ahead of Open Championship week.

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What are you most looking forward to about coaching at the R&A Swing Zone?

I guess a couple of things...the buzz around the Swing Zone is amazing and during a typical six hour coaching shift you'll meet around 24 different people, all with different stories, different reasons for coming to The Open and a different experience with golf. Making sure each one of those people leaves that 15 minute lesson with a positive outlook on the game and the benefits of coaching is a great challenge. 

Also as a coach you can't fail to learn something new during the week too because you spend so much time around other coaches.

What age and where did you start playing golf?

I guess I first picked up a club around 13 years old but regularly started playing a couple of years later. My dad loves (loathes) the game still and was easily the biggest influence on why I started to play regularly.

Apart from grabbing some free coaching at the Open, what’s the one thing anybody visiting the Open should make sure they do?

I always recommend attend at least one practice day. Less crowds, more relaxed players hitting more shots, you can use your camera and generally the atmosphere is bubbling away nicely. I'd also recommend heading to the practice ground and parking yourself in the stand for an hour or so. Watch the rhythm of these guys and try to remember that the next time you play.

Who was/is your favourite golfer and why?

The Big Easy - Ernie Els.

THAT SWING!! And not just the technical elements to the swing... the rhythm, the effortless power and the fantastic balance he shows is something I've always admired, and (rightly or wrongly) tried to reproduce myself.

I also love the fact that Ernie stays relaxed and calm not matter if he's just made a birdie or bogey.

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If you could change one thing in golf what would it be?

The Rules... especially for people taking their first steps on the golf course. At last year’s England Coaching Conference I heard Cathy Harbin talk about something launched in America called "It’s OK to Play" where beginners would be given their own rules when starting the game "it's ok to only use one club" "it’s ok to tee your ball upon the fairway" or "it’s ok to not finish a hole of you want to" things that I know beginners get confused with when first playing. I now use a modified version of these with my beginners’ courses. 

Any golfing superstitions when you play a round of golf?

None at all, I'm responsible for all my own luck or bad luck I’m afraid.

Favourite mid-round snack?

Nakd bars, I've defiantly got a sweet tooth so if I can eat something I like and it's also "good" for me then great. 

Favourite singer/band?

Frank Turner - I've seen him play in front of 20 people in Camden and 20,000 thousand people at Wembley and he performs each and every gig with the same passion and infectious enthusiasm. Great music to sing and dance too while you'll definitely leave a gig of his with a smile on your face.

Best piece of golf advice you’ve ever been given?

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" 

I heard Ian Clark say this at one of his presentations but I think originally Theodore Roosevelt said it. Sums up coaching perfectly I think. Information is important but if you can't connect build relationships with your pupils it's useless.

What’s the best thing about coaching golf?

Being outdoors in the summer is great and not being part of the rat race heading into London has its benefits some days. It's always great to get emails from my lessons telling me about the progress they are making too. I guess although I'm not saving any lives or working for a charity it's nice to feel as though you are making people happier and healthier.

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Favourite Open venue and why?

Royal St Georges in Kent. I guess it’s a home Open for me and the only venue I've been lucky enough to play. I love Prince’s next door too and the whole area is beautiful. Links golf in just amazing.

Who is your money on for this year’s Open?

Louis Oosthuizen - he's playing ok now without winning and always seems to raise his game for the Majors. He's also won round St Andrews before so I think if he's sniffing around come the back nine on Sunday then he'll have the confidence to win.

Follow James during Open week on @jmgolfcoaching

Read more Open Q&As with PGA pros at the Open here.

** The free lessons at this year’s Open Championship at St Andrews are for golfers of all ages and abilities, including the disabled. To book a lesson simply attend the R&A Swing Zone on the day and book a lesson. The swing zone is open from Sunday, July 12 through to Sunday, July 19.

If you can’t make the Open this year why not give your local PGA Professional a call and book some coaching now or try the wide range of sessions available at many golf clubs across the UK through the Get into golf initiative.

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