Horrocks’ career is back on track and Bristol fashion

Horrocks’ career is back on track and Bristol fashion


Nick Horrocks is back doing what he loves best and treading the career path he always wanted to follow.

Fifteen years after concentrating on coaching school children and growing the game in Plymouth he is following suit in Bristol. In essence, however, there the similarities end.

I was running a schools project in Plymouth,” Horrocks recalled.  It went well and grew massively. Then the financial crisis happened, funding was pulled and that killed it off overnight almost.”

By contrast, his latest role at The Bristol, which follows stints as the head PGA Professional at Staddon Heights and then Chippenham Golf Clubs, is less likely to be blown off course by the vagaries of local authority finance.

Not least because he is employed by Masters Golf, a well-established company boasting an extensive network of global manufacturers and blue-chip connections.

More pertinently, Masters, which is based at nearby Portishead, has added The Bristol to its portfolio of interests that includes MKids, Young Masters Golf (YMG) and ShortGolf.

The driving force behind YMG, a structured coaching programme for pros to introduce youngsters to golf, and MKids, a range of equipment for them, was Chris Smith, a PGA Professional and director of golf at The Bristol.

Similarly, Smith was involved in the purchase of the club which, adjacent to the M5 motorway, has the shopping magnet of Cribbs Causeway as a neighbour and affords panoramic views of the Severn estuary and its two suspension bridges.

The owner of Masters and I thought we should buy a golf club so we could deliver our programme and products,” Smith explained.

We always looked at The Bristol as being perfect because Masters’ HQ is 10 miles down the motorway. It became available last year, and we seized the opportunity.”

In addition to buying The Bristol, three Masters brands: YMG, a programme that boasts Matt Fitzpatrick and Georgia Hall as alumni, ShortGolf and MKids, now comprise Golfway.

Its amalgam of our previous brands,” Smith continued. Its a rebranding and the next step is to expand on that by opening junior academies.”

The first of those is at The Bristol.  Which is where Horrocks comes in following conversations with Smith last summer.

A lot of the ideas we had were parallel,” said Horrocks. One was how we could develop a schools' programme. More conversations followed when Masters bought The Bristol and Chris suggested a professional team was needed to run the academy.

I wanted to get back to my roots – schools’ golf and the games development – so initially, it was just me coming here. Since then, my team from Chippenham has followed and there are four of us in total, including Matt Law who is the head PGA Professional.

Laws arrival in April completed the team and the junior academy offers the Golfway programme that delivers a complete golf education allowing students to develop an all-round knowledge and skill set as well as having fun.

There will be three 10-week terms, each costing £99, run during the year and the target is to have 100 youngsters signed up by the end of it.

Juniors, however, are not the only potential golfing newbies Horrocks has in his sights. He is also keen to encourage more women to take up golf and, to that end, has adopted a novel approach to recruitment.

We have everything here to do the job,” he added. Theres an 18-hole course, a short nine-hole one, the range as well as the equipment and the programme. We offer a comprehensive package under one roof. Nobody else has that.

And as is the case with encouraging kids to play golf, its about us getting out there into the community as opposed to setting something up, sitting here and waiting for people to come.

The more positive stuff we can do outside The Bristols boundaries the more chance weve got.

With regard to getting females to give golf a try, were talking to Bristol Bears womens rugby team, Bristol City womens football team, Western Storm womens cricket – to encourage the players to make golf their second sport.

In mens sport, most Bristol Bears players come up here and play, likewise local footballers. We want the girls to make golf their second sport. Many of them have a big social media following and we see that as a way of breaking out into the bigger market.

Their clubs have been very supportive. They dont see us as trying to poach their players; they see golf as a second sport for their players which is non-threatening.

And from my standpoint, were fortunate we have the backing from the top so were able to offer it as a taster without any cost.

The ambition of the ownership is to create golf programmes on a big scale for ladies through free golf taster sessions.”

The ownership is similarly ambitious in extending the reach and influence of Golfway far beyond the boundaries of its newly acquired club.

All of which presents Horrocks with another challenge.

Once we make a success of the academy here, we dont intend to stop at that,” he said.

Our ambition is to reach all Bristol and the surrounding areas and make golf as inclusive and accessible as any other sport.

Matt being here frees me up develop academies elsewhere, as well as working with Chris on relationships we have with the R&A, Golf Foundation, and other organisations. 

Thats the goal. Once weve created the blueprint for an academy, well roll them out elsewhere.”


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