‘The PGA Excel framework is well within everybody’s reach’

‘The PGA Excel framework is well within everybody’s reach’


James Freeman previously enjoyed a successful playing career which saw him feature on the Challenge and PGA Europro Tours. A back injury cut that short, but it did point him in the direction of a degree in Professional Golf Studies at the University of Birmingham from where he graduated in 2017.

Since then, he has evolved into a highly successful coach and recently became a PGA Fellow Coach as he continues to make great strides as an instructor. Here he explains how the PGA Excel framework has worked for him.

What made you get involved with PGA Excel in the first place?
I’m just one of those people that, when I do something, I have to do it well. I looked at it and I thought that I would love to be an Advanced Professional. Once I’d achieved that I looked at all the other statuses and thought why not keep pressing and trying to keep going? 

How easy is it to take the first steps into it?
PGA Excel is brilliant really in the sense that it has got so much on it. You have to spend a bit of time navigating your way around because there is lots to it but, at the same time, it is very easy to use. It is all in front of you if you have a little bit of time and it really is very good. It is very modern, the dashboard is very easy to navigate around and, like I said, I’ve always set myself goals of being the best that I can possibly be.

How big a step up is Fellow from Advanced status?
It is quite a big step up and I submitted a lot of work on lots of different multifaceted things. The majority of it was based around the developments at Retford which is a very progressive club and our visions go well together. The Head Professional, Craig Morris, has been a big mentor of mine over the years and a big supporter of my pursuits so a lot of it is down to his backing and pushing. But the club are also very keen on moving things forward.

I’ve had so many positive influences during my career and I am so thankful to them for pushing me but the PGA Excel framework is well within everybody’s reach and you just have to put some time into it.

- James Freeman, PGA Fellow Coach

What were the main initiatives?
When I started there were just a couple of juniors, now there are maybe as many as 40. There was quite a lot of scope to increase those numbers and I just tackled it head on. I have got a great relationship with the Chairman and the board members so I suggested a few things that I thought would benefit us all and it is looking really good.

I am also the Yorkshire Girls coach. I was the lead coach in the south but now I am doing both so that has been good and was something of a promotion and that's helped my reputation as a coach.

What advice would you give fellow Members about getting involved with the PGA Excel framework?
You obviously have to push yourself, but I have always been really lucky with who I've worked with. Adam Keogh is a great friend within The PGA and he’s always encouraged me to apply and watching some of his great work has been very inspiring. Otherwise, my mentors are Graham Walker and Craig Fricker and, to be honest, I couldn’t get better people. They have pushed me to develop further as a person, as a coach and as a player as well.

I’ve worked alongside Gareth Davies in the Yorkshire set-up and Lysa Jones is our lead coach - she’s encouraged me in everything that I’ve done over the past 20 years. I feel very fortunate that I’ve had so many positive influences during my career and I am so thankful to them for pushing me but the framework is well within everybody’s reach and you just have to put some time into it. It's a brilliant system and they give you a chance to specialise in an area that you're most interested in which, for me, is coaching. Then you can pick out things that are relevant to you.

How much time does it take to complete everything?
I did something pretty much every day for a couple of months so it is quite a few hours but the size of it isn’t overwhelming in terms of what you have got to do. Thankfully when you have got a club like mine who are open to good ideas, and you have the scope to do it, then you have lots to talk about. Our club did need developing and it does need modernising in a lot of ways, and I think the practice, training and coaching is a great way of targeting pockets of the membership who are not necessarily involved in playing so much.

Will you now look at the Masters status?
I would love to be a Master Professional. That was one of the goals when I set out, I wanted to be as good as I can be and, given the chance, I think that I can probably get there.

To find out more about PGA Excel and to start your self-assessment click here


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