Lee’s enduring passion for coaching: ‘I love watching lights switch on’

Lee’s enduring passion for coaching: ‘I love watching lights switch on’


Lee Scarbrow has been a PGA Member for over 40 years and during that time much has changed. Not just in golf but in his own life.

Most significantly for Scarbrow was the collapse of both of his lungs during his early 20s. At the time he was aspiring to be a Tour player but suddenly – and in his words – 'breathing was a good option!'

Through the recovery process he realised that becoming a Tour star was no longer the be-all and end-all for him. At the same time though, Scarbrow knew that he wanted a life in golf and so began a journey in a different direction that ultimately was recognised in 2014 when he was awarded the John Jacobs Teaching and Coaching Award at the PGAs of Europe Annual Congress.

During his career he has seen the sport develop in many ways; technology, science and the Tiger Factor being just three. But an aspect that has never changed for Scarbrow is his own deeply-rooted passion for golf and coaching, which he now offers at Brampton Park Golf Club near Huntingdon. 

“What I love more than anything is watching lights switch on – someone getting what you want them to do; the thought that actually they can do this,” says Scarbrow.

“One of my great successes is a lady who came to me from a club in Berkshire and every club she went to get out of her golf bag she said, ‘I can’t hit this, I can’t hit this, I can’t hit this’. I said to her, ‘Stop. I don’t disagree you won’t hit it perfectly every time but you can do it. Stop saying, “Can’t”, turn it to can’. And she has done that and got down to a 14 handicap.”

That Scarbrow lists the achievement as one of his favourite success stories is informative of the type of person he is.

Remember, he was also Ian Poulter’s coach at the time of his first European Tour success – the 2000 Italian Open – and coached Charley Hull from the age of nine right through to when, as a 17-year-old, she beat Paula Creamer in the 2013 Solheim Cup. Such moments meant a lot to him, but Scarbrow also gets similar satisfaction from helping golfers at the other end of the spectrum. That’s the key right there: he cares and is invested in every golfer that comes through his door.

“I get the odd lesson when they’re piping it,” he says with a rueful smile on his face. “You’ll have that 10-minute despair feeling but…even in that 10 minutes you know you’ve got enough knowledge to help them. It may take a bit more thought from your side but you know you can stop them doing it. And to see them enjoy hitting the ball properly again having just hit 20 shanks in a row is fantastic. You can’t buy that. Not only can I not buy it, I get paid for doing it. It’s win-win.”

Just over a year ago Scarbrow rang the changes to help with his work-life balance – a challenge that faces many PGA Professionals, especially in the busiest times of the season. He moved from the head professional’s role at John O’Gaunt Golf Club, where he’d been for almost 20 years, to take up a coaching-only position at Brampton Park.

During the first lockdown Scarbrow – by then just into the second half of his 50s – realised that he no longer wanted to be at a golf club, or thinking about it, through the majority of his waking hours.

It dawned on him that he wanted to share more time with family – hell, even find some time for the garden! But he was also aware that coaching golf had to be part of a revised framework. As he says, “It’s my job but I don’t see it as a job – it’s just what I am.”

With his network of contacts around the PGA East Region (for whom he has served on the committee and been captain) he had a few options on the table. But his respect for and friendship with Brampton Park’s director of golf Richard Beadles led to him early last spring becoming part of the team at the thriving Cambridgeshire club.

He works from his state of the art coaching bay out on to an extensive range from Tuesday to Saturday – a half-day finish on the latter giving him a little extra freedom that past positions didn’t afford. Suffice to say he couldn’t be happier, intending to offer his wit and wisdom to many for a long time to come.

“In a week I’ll only book 29 lessons, max,” he says. “But I don’t not want to teach. I love the interaction of teaching; I love meeting people. People still need me – I believe – so I’m here to help them. I’ll keep going as long as long as I can walk and even then I might carry on in a little chair!”


Where and what was your first job in golf?

“As an assistant at Stockwood Park Golf Centre in 1981. I qualified (as a PGA professional) in 1984.”

What is your coaching philosophy?

“To get the person in front of me to be as biomechanically correct as possible in my opinion; to make their golf swing as simplistic as possible, so it’s easy for them to repeat and less likely for them to be able to break it down.”

What tech do you use in your teaching?

“The GASP video system. When you tell somebody something and then they can see it, a picture paints a thousand words.”

What is your best teaching tip?

“Practise like you mean it. Don’t practise half hearted; don’t practise half a practice swing. Don’t practise fancy little waggles. Practise like you mean it. If you put the information in the best you can out it in, you’ve got more chance of getting the best out.”

What motivates in your work each day?

“The knowledge that I can help people get better in this game that I love – and I enjoy doing it.”

Give us three words that describe your coaching style?

“Simplistic, determined and encouraging.”


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