Lysa Jones – A pioneering female golf coach

Lysa Jones – A pioneering female golf coach


Lysa Jones always knew that she wanted to be a coach. After a decorated playing career, she switched her attentions to teaching and she has been helping golfers improve for over 25 years.

It’s rare that anyone manages to tick all the boxes, but Lysa Jones does just that. To pick at just a few adjectives she’s fun, knowledgeable, insightful, humble and a good listener.

She’s both interested and interesting and has all the hallmarks of a great coach. Hence why her CV shows her as a former winner of the England Golf Coach of the Year, she has spent the past decade as the coach of England’s U18 boys and is the only female coach working at England level.

In more recent times she’s battled breast cancer but, thankfully, she’s come out the other side and, as is her nature, is now helping others to do the same.

Where did your coaching journey begin?

My parents were the stewards at Fulford Heath in Solihull. I was 13, I had no interest in golf and my favourite hobby was horse riding. My dad played golf and encouraged me to play but it just didn’t appeal. I eventually gave it a go and I had my first lesson with Fulford’s professional Kevin Hayward.

He was great and very supportive and encouraging. Three years later I went on to win the English Girls Championship and developed my game further by playing for Worcestershire. I qualified with The PGA in 1999, spending the next 10 years being mentored by Craig George, a Worcester-based PGA Professional.

Where did your playing career take you?

I played on the WPGA circuit which culminated in winning the Order of Merit. This allowed me to take part in LET events such as the MacDonald’s WPGA Championship and Welsh Open. By then, I felt confident enough to attempt qualification into the LET. My first attempt sadly met with disappointment – I had the skills but I was lacking the mental fortitude at that level. The following year I succeeded as a Category 11 player, which allowed me to play in certain LET events and I went back the next year to Portugal and missed by one shot. I could have got a lower category but I didn’t take it up.

How did you end up where you are today?

This was very much down to fate. My brother had a hairdressing salon in Wath-upon-Dearne and he knew Neil Cheetham – Neil was a tour professional at the time and was coached by Graham Walker. They were setting up The Walker’s Golf Academy and thought that it would work well for me to join the team. My interview was on the golf course as Graham was keen to find out how good a player I was. I was pleased that my interview was a success and I received a glowing report from Neil. Graham Walker’s Academy was then born and, 20 years on, and we are still working together. I still have lessons with Graham. I thought that I knew everything, but I soon realised that I needed to learn and he quickly became my mentor. We then moved to The Oaks near York in 2004 and we’re still there.

How important is it to always strive for new information as a coach?

Throughout my career I’ve always been proactive, attending over 40 seminars covering all aspects of the game. There are trends within our industry; look at Bryson DeChambeau, Tiger Woods or Matt Fitzpatrick. What did they do to become a major champion? I have regional players as young as 14 who are able to produce over 100mph clubhead speed. But if you were to ask the question about how many putts they holed from six feet or how close they wedge it, then that’s a tougher question.

Young players are certainly getting stronger and moving faster so you have to keep up with the times, hence why I invest in myself and I’m not afraid to attend any seminar where I love being the pupil. I’m always keen to learn and develop my knowledge, I guess I’m curious, and I want to learn from the best. I’ve been to Arizona twice, attended Vision 54 with Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott. I like to understand why someone is such an outstanding coach.

How does elite coaching differ?

It is very rewarding taking a junior boy or girl from beginner to elite and even to a professional level. I’ve been coaching Daniel O’Loughlin, a former England player, since he was 15. He’s now 24 and we are still crunching numbers and working on his game. After having a successful amateur career winning the Walton Heath Trophy, he decided to turn professional in 2022. He was successful at Tour school and now has his full Challenge Tour card. My mission would be to make history and to stand at a major tournament on the practice ground working with a male professional. Ellise Rymer plays for England and she had her first lesson with me when she was 12. I know my information works because I’ve learned so much as a player myself and I can now pass this on to others.

Why do we not see any women coaching on the range at a tour event?

A coach is a coach whether you are male or female. When I applied for the England Regional Boys job I knew that I had the experience and the skills to be successful. But in the back of my mind I thought that I wouldn’t get the position because I’m a women in a man’s world. The interview process included a presentation, practical lesson on long and short game with elite players and you were assessed. It was as nerve-wracking as taking your driving test. In my head I wasn’t going to get it, then England Golf’s performance director Nigel Edwards rang to offer me the position. Obviously, I was over the moon and, to be honest, it’s the most rewarding position that I hold to this day. I absolutely enjoy working for England Golf, they have been so supportive and encouraging throughout my career. All the England coaches and personnel are so supportive, I always wanted to be a county and England coach throughout my career and right now I couldn’t be happier.

What’s the best bit of advice that you’ve been given?

Graham’s little mantra is: “Make sure that you can play the game first and be able to demonstrate.” If you are sitting in a room, don’t always believe everything, – he’s always encouraged me to attend CPD seminars and spend time with quality coaches, know that the person in front of you can perform as expected and know that it works. Go and try it first and make sure that it works, because one day that good player may just ask you to demonstrate that shot.

In 2019 you were diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, can you explain what you went through?

I had radiotherapy every day for three weeks, I didn’t have any chemo and I still worked. With radiotherapy they give you a set time every day and mine was two o’clock. It took me an hour to get to the hospital. I made sure that I was still working, I didn’t burden any of my clients with my illness and I made sure that I was still that happy, jolly Lysa Jones. Nobody knew what I was going through and, to be honest, it certainly gave me a positive outlook on life. They say that the radiotherapy can make you tired, but I was quite fit because I started cycling before my operation and I made sure that I cycled pretty much every day, just to get me through the radiation. There is a horrible process that they don’t tell you, that you are going to go through. It is operation, radiotherapy and then you take tamoxifen for five years of your life. So I’m still on it and I have to have it every day. Now I feel fantastic and I’m living every day as it comes, as you would when you’ve had this type of diagnosis. I’m still the same person as I was; I have a strong work ethic, I’m still extremely busy as a coach and I would like to think that I am now a sounding board for anyone who is going through it. I just want to get the message out there that there is success from cancer treatment.

What should a first lesson look like?

I like to understand the person and the player, what their strengths are and to sit down and get into their heads. You never want to to screw up the good bits. The player wants to be made to feel important, you've never met before so you have to engage with them and listen to their goals.

How much information is good information?

Don’t bombard anyone with all this technical information, get them doing one or two things well. I will ask what’s good about their swing and get them to own it rather than me showing them what Tiger’s swing looks like.

If a beginning instructor asked you for advice, what would you tell them?

Come and watch me coach. Observe, ask questions, can you apply what you’ve learnt before sharing that knowledge? So that it not just information.


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