Alex Elliott - 'Every single video is produced based on what people have asked for’

Alex Elliott - 'Every single video is produced based on what people have asked for’


Five years ago PGA Professional Alex Elliott hasn’t even considered making YouTube videos - now he’s attracting millions of golfers to the game.

Alex Elliott is part of a new(ish) wave of golfing instructors who bring thousands of new golfers into the game. He’s as normal as he is infectious on screen, something that has resonated with his audience which now numbers over 170,000 subscribers on YouTube. He’s still in his twenties but he’s already completed his PGA training, spent four years out on tour caddying, is a Golf Monthly Top 50 coach and he now divides his time between coaching at Mottram Hall and putting together five videos a week. Here he explains how he’s reached this point in his career and who has helped shape this rapid trajectory.

What did your first video look like?

Absolutely dreadful. It was at Bramhall GC in the swing studio, I stayed late and the head pro probably didn’t know that I was even doing it. My fiancee met me and we stacked an iPad on a bar stool against some books and it probably took me about three hours to do a three-minute video on alignment. It was a bit of a channel preview of what I was going to do and I hated every minute of it.

Can we still see it?

Unfortunately yeah, I might take it down by the time this comes out!

What made you do it?

I didn’t want to do it to be honest. I remember saying to (my fiancee) Em that I didn’t want to be a YouTuber as, at the time, I thought it was a bit corny and she said that I might get some lessons. So that was the aim and it went well for the first six months and then it started to go really badly, to the point where I thought that I would stop. Then, since the lockdown, everyone was online and I went from having 30,000 subscribers to having over 170,000 now in the space of 18 months. I never thought that I would end up doing this, I didn’t even watch anything on YouTube. My fiancee would watch daily vloggers on make-up tutorials and she was aware of what it could be and that funnelled me into attempting to do it.

How did you spend the lockdown? By producing a video every single day. I went from three videos a week to, for a whole year, going live every single day. I would host a chat show as well as posting a normal video which was popular on some days and quiet on others but that’s how it took off. I would sit there in my upstairs office, put a sheet behind me to make it look like a green screen and I just chatted, sometimes for 10 minutes and sometimes for two hours.

How much better as an on-screen presence did you become in that time? Way better, my confidence really grew as you have to react to questions. A lot of what I do is ad-libbed but I do have a plan of what I want to say – generally I will plan four weeks ahead – and cover but those live streams were just a chat and the questions led us to where the conversation would go.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses on screen and as a golfer? I would say that hopefully I’m quite relatable. Most golfers are intimidated when having a lesson from a pro but are happy to take advice from a friend so I try and fill that void. So I’ll try and be friendly and talk to them as though there’s just one person watching and be very personal. As a golfer I’m a pretty good driver, I’m not really exceptional in anything, just OK in most things. My weaknesses are that I sometimes shout and also I would say I sound too ‘Manc’ and say too many slang words which Americans won’t get.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My motto is ‘Powered by the viewers’ so every single video is done by what people have asked for. If you ask a question on an aspect of driving then it will be very personalised but the general scheme is that it will help everybody. I still teach two and a half days a week in the summer and the rest is made up from YouTube, there are no real days off, so it relies a lot on those watching.

You seem to be a sponge for information, what has shaped your teaching principles?

A good coach will accept that they don’t know everything and will want to learn from coaches who have a better understanding of that element of the game. I’ll never claim to be an expert on any aspect of the game, I’m a good all-rounder, and I love to listen to an expert and spend time with them. I caddied on the DP World Tour for four years and I would always stand on the back of the range and watch the likes of Phil Kenyon, Jamie Gough and Damian Taylor all give lessons.

That period of my life was one of the best things that I ever did, you’re not only watching some of the best players in the world but how some of the best coaches work with them. Top coaches use the most basic ways of asking questions and it’s very simple and that stuck with me.

Where do your viewers come from?

Mainly America, which is something like 55 per cent, with 35 per cent from the UK and the remainder from the rest of the world. The demographic age wise is a lot younger (35-44) on Instagram with the YouTube viewers on my main tips channel being mainly 45+. I’ve now started a separate channel where I’m trying to attract a younger audience.

How hard is it to attract women to the channel?

Very, it is something like 98 per cent men on both platforms. I’ve noticed more women commenting on my YouTube channel in the last six months but it’s still very small. It’s hard, if you were to say that 10 per cent of women play golf and one per cent of that 10 watch YouTube videos then you have to captivate that small audience. My videos are definitely inclusive but it’s a tough one to change.

What does particularly well and why?

Irons seem to be popular at the moment but that can change. I’ll always try and be topical. For example a member put up a video up of a chip-and-run with a hybrid in The Open so I did two of those soon after. Scoring irons and the driver are generally popular, the least popular is putting but that should be the most. Anything over 50-70k views is good, I probably average 30-40k on the five videos that I post a week and a really good one would be over 100k.

In layman’s terms how do you monetise things on YouTube?

The more people watch and the longer that they watch, there will be more adverts to see, and the more that you make. I look at it on a 28-day period and I know that if I can get over 1.8m views in a month then it will be a good month.

What are the best pieces of advice that you’ve received?

Chris Hanson, who used to play on Tour, wrote a blog and I always remember him saying to me that if you start something, don’t stop as you will be soon forgotten and I’ve stuck by that. Andrew Murray said to give the viewers what they need and not to use big words for the sake of it. And the BBC’s Rob Nothman gave me some brilliant presenting skills, he did this thing with me where I had to say as fewer words in as short a time as possible to describe an object and to make the most of pauses. Those were all some brilliant pieces of advice.

How valuable was your PGA training to prepare for this?

I finished seventh in my year group and the PGA gave me some really good foundations. I read a lot of books when I was doing my training and I shadowed Alistair Davies who is a fellow  Golf Monthly Top 50 coach. He was an invigilator and I would watch him for hours over time giving lessons so I was not only learning from real-world coaching but also how a PGA professional and invigilator would give a lesson as well. I thought that if I could get close to that then I was going to be in a good place.

What advice would you give to anyone considering following a similar path?

Be consistent and patient. A lot try it and think they’re going to be successful in a year which doesn’t really happen. There will be a lot of ups and downs and I nearly gave it up as I was putting in a lot of time and it wasn’t worth it financially and I was better off coaching. But if you are consistent then you will be in the right place at the right time at some point.

Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?

Hopefully with 750k subscribers but also being the same me. People can change and lose touch with their audience and I got here by being relatable so hopefully the same but maybe have a better camera and be a better presenter and have a better knowledge of the swing. I’ve created another channel which will be for anything that I want to do, away from coaching, where I can try some different ideas.

How much support have you had along the way?

I contacted Puma at the start and they threw me a bone and helped me get going, they have been mega and they didn’t have to do that. They are a really good fit for me, they’re young with lots of bright colours and I can’t see myself changing that. I love working with them and they have become friends and I always wanted to build this type of relationship. And Scottsdale Golf have also been great, I met Brad Stubbs at a Puma launch in Miami and he said that it would be good to work together. They gave me a lot of freedom and I’m dealing directly with the people who were making the decisions so, if I have an idea, they just get behind me.

If you were to host your dream fourball for a course vlog, who would be in it?

Tiger Woods, Bill Murray and Justin Thomas.


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