Knight joins coaching elite with PGA Advanced Fellow status title

Knight joins coaching elite with PGA Advanced Fellow status title


Ben Knight runs a very popular and successful Junior Golf Academy at Chartham Park Golf Club, as well as being the lead coach to the Sussex county juniors.

Coaching children from as young as four years of age through to 18 has been a big part of his development as a PGA Professional for the last two decades, ensuring a rounded development of their games by looking at all components that affect golf performance including physicality, psychology and course management.

One of Knight’s young proteges, Joe Sullivan, is proof that his process works. Sullivan has come all the way through the amateur ranks to recently getting a start on the PGA Tour in the Texas Open. It was this demonstrable success, along with many of Knight’s other coaching qualities, that helped him achieve his Advanced Fellow PGA Professional status through the PGA Excel application process.

Q. Congratulations on being awarded Advanced Fellow Professional status. What does it mean to you?
A. It means a great deal and gives me confidence, having my coaching practice recognised by my peers is excellent validation for what I’m doing in my coaching.

Q. Why was it important to you to do the PGA Excel submission?
A. Going through the submission was important to me as it helps with my development as a coach. In many ways I viewed it like playing in a tournament, it was an opportunity to test my coaching practices, help me gain some self-awareness of where I am at and give me some direction for future development.

Q. How do you think the players who you coach view the PGA Advanced Fellow status and why do you think it is important for them to understand and appreciate it?
A. I think it gives them confidence in the information and processes I use with them. I think it starts a conversation as many of them aren’t aware about the different statuses of PGA Members. Once I’ve explained what it means and the submission I have made I definitely feel the trust and bond between coach and player is strengthened.

I feel that [completing my PGA Excel application] was time was well spent as it gave me a clear understanding of what I’m trying to achieve and give me a blueprint to stick to. Knowing what you do well is just as important as knowing what you need to improve on.


Q. Leading amateur Joe Sullivan is one of your young proteges. I understand that you have been coaching him since he was four years old. Tell me a little about the journey you have been on together.
A. Working with Joe has been a privilege, he has helped my development probably more than I’ve helped him. I feel our journeys have been based on a collaboration between us allowing him to develop his own way of playing golf. I’ve broken down our journey together into the stages:

Early development and multi-sport approach: Starting from a young age, Joe engaged in various sports, which helped in his overall athleticism and coordination. Rather than solely focusing on golf, he was encouraged to explore different activities, laying a solid foundation for his physical development.

Gradual transition to golf: While Joe explored multiple sports, golf emerged as his primary focus as he entered his teenage years.

Supportive environment: Establishing a strong relationship with Joe's parents was crucial in providing consistent guidance and support throughout his journey. This collaboration ensured that everyone involved was on the same page regarding Joe's development and goals.

Competitive experience: Competing in national events provided valuable opportunities for Joe to test his skills and gain self-awareness. Rather than solely focusing on winning, the emphasis was on using these competitions as learning experiences and setting achievable goals for improvement.

Managing expectations: Recognising Joe's physical limitations, particularly in terms of distance off the tee, allowed for realistic expectations to be set. Instead of putting undue pressure on winning, the focus was on continual improvement and personal bests.

Technical development: As Joe's game progressed, a more technical approach became necessary. This involved bringing in experts from various fields to provide specialised knowledge and support, ensuring Joe's development was thorough and well-rounded.

Overcoming adversity: Dealing with injuries, such as the one Joe experienced requiring a lengthy recovery period, is part of the journey for many athletes. Overcoming set-backs like this requires resilience and a supportive network, both of which seem to have been present in Joe's journey.

Success as an amateur and collegiate game: Winning the English Amateur Championship and the Valero Collegiate showcased Joe's talent and dedication. These achievements not only validate his hard work but also open doors to higher levels of competition, such as the PGA Tour.

Q. How important is it for golf clubs to run junior programmes?
A. For me it’s really important, but not because I think that juniors are the future of the specific golf club that runs them. The world we live in now with so many people going to university, moving around, student debt and family expenses for people, it’s hard to claim that. However, if people develop competence at a young age they can play recreationally through the financially challenging years providing income for the golfing business. They will also be able to pick the game up quicker when their personal situation allows meaning that they can integrate into the club quickly, which helps with the all-important retention.

Q. Is there any advice you could give to other PGA members looking to start a PGA Excel application?
A. Set aside time in your diary to do it. It’s hard to do as we have some much pressure on our time but diarising time for your development is so important.

Q. How much time did you put into the application?
A. The application process took a fair amount of time and it would be hard to quantify it. However, I feel that the time was well spent as it gave me a clear understanding of what I’m trying to achieve and give me a blueprint to stick to. Knowing what you do well is just as important as knowing what you need to improve on.

Q. How simple was the process?
A. Really simple, clear to understand and easy to upload.

Q. How important is CPD and on-going learning to you?
A. CPD is hugely important to me, I spend a considerable amount of time on CPD as I enjoy learning more about coaching. However, the old saying of ‘the more I know, the less I know’ definitely rings true! This process has opened up new areas to explore and learn more about which I’m looking forward to doing. Specific CPD will be how I achieve my new learning goals.

PGA Members can find out more about PGA Excel by CLICKING HERE


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