Fife exile Miller earns top accolade in his German golfing home from home

Fife exile Miller earns top accolade in his German golfing home from home


It’s a long way from Burntisland to Bavaria but PGA professional Craig Miller continues to relish life in his golfing home from home. The town of Herzogenaurach is already on the map as the HQ of Adidas and Puma but Fife exile Miller is doing his bit to bolster its reputation as a centre of excellence for the Royal & Ancient game.

Those endeavours continue to bring rewards and the 50-year-old’s work has been recognised with the Teacher of the Year award from the PGA of Germany. It was a moment of immense pride for Miller. On the same roll of 2021 honours was the indefatigable Bernhard Langer, an oldie so golden he should be housed next to the bullion in the Deutsche Bundesbank.

“Bernhard won the Player of the Year award and then the final prize of the evening was my one,” reflected Miller of an occasion which should have been a swanky, glass-clinking gala but had to be held over Zoom due to the pesky meddlings of covid. “To follow on from such a great ambassador of German golf was pretty special and doing a speech, even one online, was pretty nerve-wracking. This is the biggest award for coaches in Germany, voted for by over 2000 members. It’s great that a club pro can win it and I’m very proud of that.”

Miller, who cut his teeth at Kirkcaldy and Stirling before moving to Germany in 1996, has plenty of reasons to feel chuffed with himself. His work with rising German DP World Tour star, Matthias Schmid, has been a mutually beneficial alliance.

The 24-year-old won two European Amateur Championship titles and the silver medal at the 2021 Open before turning pro immediately after that St George’s success, earning his full Tour card in just seven starts on the circuit and claiming the prestigious Rookie of the Year award. It was a whirlwind spell that just about registered on the Beaufort Scale.

“The work with Matthias has really put me on the radar and has got me recognised,” said Miller, who runs his own golf school at the flourishing Golf Club Herzogenaurach. “I’ve worked with him since 2015. We just clicked from the word go. I saw things we needed to work on and thankfully I managed to help him get on an upward trend. He's going to be the next superstar, I’m sure of that.

“He had a great natural talent when he first came to me and we just tried to do a step-by-step progression with a general overhaul of his swing over time. I like my players to give me lots of feedback as opposed to me just saying this is what we are doing. With Matthias there has been a lot of discussion and I add the technical side to the feel he has. It works well. As he develops as a player, I am developing as a coach.”

Miller did harbour touring ambitions himself and did make it on to the Challenge Tour but coaching remained his enduring passion. Spells shadowing the renowned US swing guru Mike Bender, who helped Zach Johnson to Masters and Open glory, aided his education and has led to a coaching portfolio that embraces all walks of golfing life.

“We have all areas covered here, from beginners right through to elite players,” Miller added of a club which has grown from 300 members to around 1200. “We have a great space here and indoor facilities too. I have a free reign which is fantastic.”

The PGA qualification has opened plenty of doors for Miller down the years. He may not have made it to the main Tour himself but seeing Schmid prosper among the elite provides a great sense of fulfilment. “Being his coach is the next best thing to playing on the Tour,” he said. “We were in Abu Dhabi recently and Collin Morikawa came up to him at the range and congratulated him on his efforts. Those are nice highlights that stay with you. We’re both living the dream.”


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