England and Wales (South West) Region
20 Feb 18
Mark Sanders (left) pictured with amateur partner Toni Chilcott at the South West regional qualifier for the Lombard Trophy.
Life has turned a full circle for Mark Sanders who started golf as a 13-year-old junior at Knowle Golf Club. Now 30 years later he is back as the club's head professional.
"It was always my ambition to return," he said after succeeding Nigel Warburton.
Sanders was coached by the late Gordon Brand Senior who wished him good luck shortly before his recent death.
He won the English Amateur at Woodhall Spa in 1998 and qualified to play in The Open at Lytham St Annes in 2001 after he moved to Bristol and Clifton for three seasons.
"A member there offered to pay my expenses to compete around the country as my parents couldn't afford the cost," he said.
Gary Wolstenholme was also recruited by B and C and went on to win the British Amateur title and play in the Masters.
English international Sanders then advanced to the Challenge Tour for three years and the European Tour with modest success.
Again costs proved a barrier so he joined the PGA and signed with Tony Mealing at The Kendleshire.
He returned to Knowle as assistant to Rob Hayward before becoming teaching professional at Stockwood Vale for eight years. He is also a Gloucestershire county coach.
Knowle assistant James Jakes has now taken over a coaching role at Stockwood.
Sanders is seeking an assistant as former Mendip club professional Kevin Pitts, who was lined up for the role, is unwell.
He also hopes to return to playing this year. He said: "I haven't had the time for several years but now I am my own boss I expect to play in Order of Merit events and selected pro-ams."