Donal Scott’s passion for player development

25/07/2023

The most enjoyable thing about coaching is the unique puzzle that every individual is and trying to put the pieces together to help each player get the most from their potential and help people succeed and do well in life and deal with challenges.

- Donal Scott (Leopardstown Golf Centre) - PGA Professional

Donal Scott’s passion for coaching is infectious, whether you are a club golfer, an elite amateur or professional, he gets a kick out of seeing people improve and succeed at all levels. 

PGA Professional Scott is a high-performance coach based in Dublin and after more than a decade of experience in the game, he has become one of Ireland’s most renowned coaches.

Scott does some incredible work with Golf Ireland and has overseen several of their High-Performance panels, including running the rule over Lauren Walsh, Aideen Walsh and Kate Lanigan to name but a few. 

“I would be primarily responsible for the RHP Senior Women’s team and then I also help out with the U18s and work with Maynooth University as well,” explained Scott, who also offers personal and online coaching. 

“We want to help each player develop as best they can and prepare players as best we can for our main championships across the summer so the European and World Championships and Home Internationals so that’s the main focus.” 

Scott divides his time between looking after the home-based players and the high-performance golfers based in the United States. 

“Over the winter we have three players at home on the High Performance Panel, Kate (Lanigan), Aideen (Walsh) and Rebekah (Gardner) and a good chunk of our panel are abroad in the United States.

“For the homebased players it’s about ensuring they have a good structure around them to help them develop and to try and provide an environment that enables them to get the most out of themselves over the winter. 

“We do a training camp in the US over the Thanksgiving period which sets the platform for their offseason then it’s about staying in touch and giving them support from home and helping them as individuals to get the best out of their potential. 

“At the elite end it’s about getting the best out of their skills available. From the younger side we want to develop skills and talent.” 

Scott has worked with the Irish Women’s National teams, the Danish and Turkish National teams and he can count DP World Tour players Gary Hurley (pictured) and JB Hansen of Denmark as part of his stable. He has overseen the progress of both players from the amateur ranks all the way to the Tour with JB picking up two career wins.

“I do quite a lot of travel, I work with a few professionals as well on the DP and Challenge Tours. I travel 90-100 days every year. A lot of it is tournament support. We have lots of team events to travel to. I’ll be down at the Close, other domestic championships to help out, but the travel is fairly intense alright.

“Gary I would have met when he was an amateur here in Ireland. The Danish lads I would have worked with when they were amateurs on the Danish national squad and they have all progressed. For the most part it has been a case of being part of their journey from amateur to DP World Tour level. “That’s my story with it.”

Scott’s coaching style is to nurture the player and build the foundation for improvement around their strengths and what works for them. Rather than come in with a ‘fix it’ mentality and try to impose his philosophy on his players, he tries to get them playing golf that reflects their personality. 

He continued: “Everybody is so different. At elite amateur and professional level the big thing I've found is that you have to meet everybody where they are and you have to get to know them and their styles of play, philosophies and how they have progressed over the years.

“The biggest thing is keeping it focused on themselves their skills and what they do well and believing in those skills. There’s no one way to do it, they all have things they do really well and maximising them. 

“I want to try develop their strengths to set them apart from the field. One of the challenges in the culture of golf coaching is a need to fix it mentality. I try and promote people’s strengths and develop their own style of play which ties in with their identity and focus on that. If you try focus on weaknesses you’ll only be as good as the average players but if you focus on your strengths you can go through the levels and be one of the best amateurs in Ireland and go further.”

Lauren Walsh (pictured) has enjoyed widespread success and made two Curtis Cup appearances, while Aideen Walsh has won multiple titles in Irish Amateur golf as well as making a KPMG Women’s Irish Open appearance. Rebekah Gardner is due Stateside next year and Scott is proud of the success stories coming out of Irish golf. 

“I just like to torture myself I think! The most enjoyable thing about coaching is the unique puzzle that every individual is and trying to put the pieces together to help each player get the most from their potential and help people succeed and do well in life and deal with challenges.

“A big part of it is helping people overcome challenges because elite sport is a tough environment to operate in and I love to see people succeed.”

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