Howell rewarded for spectacular success at Pyle and Kenfig

Howell rewarded for spectacular success at Pyle and Kenfig


Gareth Howell has been named Wales Golf PGA Development Coach of the Year due to his spectacular success in boosting junior and female participation in the game at Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club.

Tasked with getting more juniors and women into golf on his arrival at the club from neighbouring Royal Porthcawl as head coach a year ago, the 29-year-old PGA pro has wasted little time in fulfilling his brief.

Aided and abetted by his own and the club’ social media, word of mouth recommendations, some innovative ideas, the club’s director of golf, Dylan Williams, plus help from Wales Golf, Howell has been party to an impressive recruitment drive.

So much so that the junior academy comprises more than 40 youngsters, at least 20 of whom have become club members, many following a Halloween-inspired golf day experience.

“I put on a Halloween themed golf day that involved the kids playing on the course, then coming into the clubhouse for some fun and games and sweets,” explained Howell. “From that day alone, we recruited at least 10 juniors as members.”

It’s great to receive recognition for something I’ve worked hard for over the years, but I feel it’s also a reflection on the golf club and its efforts to grow the game.

- Gareth Howell (Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club) - PGA Professional

An eight-week Get into Golf programme for pupils at Blackla Primary, a local school, has also proved popular and Howell has achieved similar success in recruiting female members, not least due to the club’s Ladies New 2 Golf Programme.

“We arranged a couple of free taster sessions for ladies on a Saturday morning,” Howell continued.

“That proved incredibly popular, and it got to the stage when I was coaching more than 50 ladies at one point. The groups were too big to have everybody in at once, so I was running sessions on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at one stage.

“The group sessions were very successful. The ladies enjoyed it and that’s the key thing about it all. You’ve got to get down to the level of people who have never played before and make it as enjoyable as you can as opposed to zoning in on the technique of golf.”

Howell also put on coffee mornings for his female recruits, enlisted the help of Pyle and Kenfig members to make them feel welcome and introduced them to the club’s indoor studio and range.

Then, thanks to his own input, plus that of Wales Golf and Williams, Howell ensured their interest was not only maintained but enhanced.

“Wales Golf provided a platform of six free one-hour lessons specific to ladies where we covered all parts of the game,” he added. “I then offered myself at a reduced fee on a group session and that’s carried on. That was my add on to the free sessions to keep that momentum going.

“I think that’s been key to our success at Pyle. Had we done the six sessions and then given the ladies a membership application form and said we hoped to see them at the golf club we could have lost them. Instead, Dylan and I kept the ball rolling.”

In addition to making the golfing experience enjoyable for beginners or juniors and maintaining their interest in the game, Howell believes establishing a good rapport with them is essential.

“As a golf coach I think the communication you have with the person you’re teaching is the most important thing,” he said. “Initially, for me, it’s key to create a good relationship - you can work on the technical aspects of the game later.

“And from a junior point of view, it’s essential to make it fun. That’s the most important part of it. There must be an element of learning the game of golf and the technical side but equally you want to make it fun for them to want to come back and play golf.

“We’re relaxed about dress codes and equipment – that helps as well. That gives us a good chance of keeping the juniors interested and them becoming members.”

Inevitably the club is delighted with what Howell has achieved, and not just in respect of getting women and juniors into golf and becoming members.

Ian Booth, the club captain, said: “I think one of the hardest things in any established club such as ours, is engaging with members that have played golf for many years and may feel that they are unable to change or improve their golf, or that they are stuck in their ways.

“Gareth’s outgoing and gregarious personality has really allowed him to engage with all sections within the club, from the youngest junior to oldest senior member.

“Gareth has developed specific programmes aimed at various sections and groups within the club and has been able to tailor the coaching for all, regardless of age or ability.

“The feedback to myself from members has been excellent, with particular mention of his ability to deliver his knowledge to them in a way that is not over-complicated or difficult to understand.”

All of which is testament to Howell’s love of coaching, a love he has had since studying for the PGA Foundation Degree while an assistant at Royal Porthcawl.

“Coaching has always been my passion,” he said. “It’s just as rewarding for me to help someone improve their game as it is my own. I always felt I was going down that route and be a coach. I like the inter-action with people.

“I’m lucky in getting to do something I’m so passionate about and this award is my biggest achievement as a PGA pro to date. It’s great to receive recognition for something I’ve worked hard for over the years, but I feel it’s also a reflection on the golf club and its efforts to grow the game.”

The award, which is worth £1,000 to the winner and £250 to his club, is sponsored by the PGA and Howell will be presented with it during a ceremony at 2010 Ryder Cup venue, Celtic Manor.

That is if he is not ambushed by the early arrival of an addition to his family.

“My fiancée Gemma and I are expecting a child,” he explained. “The baby is due on the first day of the Masters, which is appropriate given my job.

“Gemma’s coming to Celtic Manor with me. So are my mum and dad, Dylan and Ian Booth, the club captain. But our bag is packed just in case we have to make a swift exit!”

Elsewhere, Conwy general manager Matt Parsley received the Welsh Golf Club Manager of the Year, supported by the GCMA Wales Region.

Parsley earned the accolade after overseeing a period of exciting initiatives to modernise one of the top traditional golf clubs in Wales.

“It is a lovely honour to get this award,” said Parsley. “A lot of it is down to the foresight of the Board and committee that wanted to move the club forward, modernise and professionalise how we do things.

“I might be the one getting the award, but you are only as good as the people around you and I like to think we have built a good team at Conwy.”

CLICK HERE to view a full list of winners from the Wales Golf Awards.


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