Frank Holly moved to the USA 3 years ago. One of the best parts of his job is coaching the local Women Who Play (WHP) network. When he arrived there were just 20 members, but with over 120 now turning up to play each week they close the course just to cater for them!
Q. How did your journey to become a PGA Pro start?
A. I had played golf for most of my life but, although I was playing off 5, I had never considered it as a career. In 2011, the Head Pro at a nearby Golf Club mentioned that he was looking for someone to join his team and train to become an Assistant Pro and I decided that this was my chance to do something different. I qualified as a PGA Professional in 2015 and moved to the States about 3 years ago.
Q. How have you found working in the USA?
A. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. It is a great place to gain experience as there are so many openings here for Assistant Pros, which is the position that I currently hold. I think a lot of people are put off because they believe that their PGA status isn’t recognised here, but it is!
Q. What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
A. Whilst working here, I have come to learn that people expect a genuine experience. If you can deliver something fun, interesting and deliver results then it is really rewarding for everyone. Almost 85% of the lessons I give here are to resort guests, but if they enjoy their time here then they will spread the word and ultimately build our brand and reputation and also my own name as a coach.
Q. What have you been doing to support and grow female participation in your area?
A. In the USA there is an LPGA organisation called Women Who Play (WHP). This is a nationwide network of amateur women golfers who come together to learn, play and network. Their local chapter only had 20 members when I arrived here but over the last 3 years we have grown that membership to 112. We actually close the course for them on a Tuesday afternoon to specifically address their requirements and preferences.
Q. What structure does the programme / sessions take?
A. The way that the women structure the sessions is really important. Every week they have a different volunteer who personally meets and greets every female golfer as they arrive. This means that everyone knows each other and if there is a new woman joining the group, she feels included and welcome from the minute she arrives.
One thing I have introduced to make them feel more comfortable is a session on etiquette and rules. We do this before the season starts every year because the feedback they gave me was that they are worried about looking foolish on the golf course. There are so many misconceptions around the game that this session really helps them relax and enjoy themselves more.
Q. What are these women looking to get out of golf?
A. Most of them just want to have fun! For them golf is fun. They want to get better, but the friendships they have here are the most important part of their experience. I think it’s important to point out that even though only 5 of these women have become members, every woman in the Chapter is really committed to golf and to the Golf Club. They are really proud of the hard work that they put in and the progress that they make. Even the snow doesn’t stop them coming along as I ran a clinic on chipping in April and we had flurries of snow, 20 ladies showed up to that clinic!
Q. What is the best advice you’ve had, or can give, about being a great coach?
A. Find out what people truly need. Fulfil those expectations. Do so, especially for your female golfers, because they will stop coming to you if they do not value their experience. We need to be technically sound as PGA Professionals, but we also need to build a relationship with the golfers we coach. That’s what keeps them coming back!
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