Training investment pays off for new PGA Master Coach Wallett

Training investment pays off for new PGA Master Coach Wallett


PGA Member Jonathan Wallett, who works as a coach at the Elite Coaching Golf Academy in Queensland, Australia, and who has now  been awarded PGA Master Coach status, talks about how a commitment to continuous self-improvement has helped his coaching career.

What does it mean to be awarded Master Professional status?

To achieve the highest possible honour for a PGA Member, which reflects a life-time of my learning is very humbling. I grew up living next to the 13th green of Kingsdown Golf Club near Bath and I never wanted to do anything else other than be involved with golf. I’m so grateful for The PGA for their decision to award me with the Master Coach designation and I am thankful for the career and travel opportunities the PGA qualification has given me. 

What made you want to begin your PGA Excel application and what would you say to other members to encourage them to consider starting their  PGA Excel?

When you are an employee, to some degree your career and skill development is often mapped out for you, as an employer will send you on courses and career-wise the next step is often one of steady promotions. But if, like me, and so many PGA Members, you’re self-employed, the career pathway is not so clear. So, to have something like PGA Excel, that  provides a clear framework, combined with the different pathways the PGA has created in PGA Manager, PGA Professional and PGA Coach, has been an excellent move and offers great support to PGA members in giving them a structure to career development. So I would say to every member reading this, involve yourself with the PGA, its support structure and initiatives like PGA Excel, and the more your career will grow and the more opportunities that will come to you – in potentially many different career pathways within golf as the PGA has done a great job diversifying its role within the golf community.

What does being a Member of The PGA mean to you?

Compared to many other sports, we are lucky to have a professional body as strong as we do with The PGA. Having been a member of other international PGAs, which are typically very small and run by volunteers with one or two paid members of staff, we are truly fortunate to have such a supportive organisation.

What has your career path been and what have you learned along that journey?

I have spent most of my working life outside of the UK, with roles in France, Switzerland, Asia and now Australia, where I am now based at the Elite Coaching Golf Academy on the Gold Coast. My PGA qualification, which I gained back in 1993, has created these opportunities and for that I am truly grateful.

During the last 20 years I have focused on coaching elite players, ranging from  juniors to Tour players. I think if you aspire to be a full-time coach, it’s important to speciali se in an area you are passionate about so that it does not feel like work.

For me this passion started with my clearcut failure as a player. I played for England Schoolboys in 1986 and 1987 and then went to Tour School in 1990, but I quickly discovered that I was not good enough to make a living on  tour, so I switched to the idea of coaching, and started the PGA Trainee Programme.

My key takeaway from this time was that hitting thousands of balls and ‘finding it in the dirt’ was not the key to being a successful Tour player. That completed the circle for me many years later, when I did my own research project with 50 Tour players to identify the ‘critical success factors at Tour Level’ to truly understand what the best did to get to the top.  

I have written seven books based on this research and it has been very rewarding to be able to coach on Tour on a part-time basis over the last 15 years, and to have the opportunity to coach players by essentially passing on what I have learned from them. It’s difficult to distil this into a few sentences but core findings were to encourage the building of the SELFS – self- responsibility, self-belief, self-trust, self-discipline etc and another would be the importance of what I called the Four Quadrants of Player Development in their formative years of Coaching, Instruction, Experiences and Environment.

What areas of work or achievements stand out to you over the years?

In 2015 I had the opportunity to be a National Coach in Hong Kong, which I did for three years, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a coach.

Over time, through working and building a cohesive team of local PGA coaches, we created a meaningful programme from schools’ golf right up the chain to professional level. Hong Kong had never produced a Tour winner in its history or any players on Tour, however, for me, the main objective was not to create a champion golfer, but to help players in the programme develop a lifelong passion for the game and to grow as people.

So many players get burned out in national programmes and leave the game feeling like they have failed as people. Only a very small percentage of players ever make a career on Tour, but all of these players are potential future PGA Pros, club managers, junior organisers, club committee members or just passionate golfers.

I am very grateful that despite finishing my time in Hong Kong in 2018, many of the players that I worked with still engage me as their coach and I see them all as part of my extended family. It was terrific to see one of these players, Taichi Kho, transform from a talented 15-year-old junior to becoming Hong Kong’s first ever winner on Tour earlier this year  and competing at this year’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. There is a solid group of players coming through now, so I’m sure he will be the first of many.

However, the most rewarding experience to date has been the Elite Performance Coach Certification Program  that I developed. Because it is delivered online, it has allowed me to interact with coaches from Brazil to Finland, and from America to Australia. Helping other coaches and inviting world renowned coaches to be co-presenters on the course, has not only enriched my knowledge, but also my passion. Helping others, whether it is players or coaches, is truly the most rewarding part of my job.

Have you had any mentors along the way? If so, who and how did they help?

I cannot stress the importance of having mentors and being a mentor. I am so passionate about this that in all my coaching programmes, I place a responsibility on all the players to mentor others. So, for instance, while the elite amateurs may benefit from me introducing Tour players to them, I even ask the junior  players, who might only be in their early or mid-teens, to outline how they intend to help the 10- or 11-year-olds back at their clubs.

From a coaching perspective, my first mentor was PGA Master Professional Denis Pugh. I had lessons with Denis from 1992-97 and for me this was a complete eye opener. Denis is not only a great coach, but also a great person. There have been many mentors since, including Ramsay McMaster, Dr Patrick Cohn, and business coach Bill Sanderson to name but a few. Dr Paul Schempp, from the University of Georgia, who worked as a performance coach for the Swedish golf team for many years, quotes Oprah Winfrey in one of his presentations in our programme. ‘A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope and potential inside yourself’. Another line from Dr Schempp that has stuck with me is ‘give back more than you receive’. For me most learning occurs from observing and reflection, and the opportunity to work with the former CEO of the Hong Kong Golf Association, Tom Phillips, who is now Head of the DP World Tour for the Middle East, was a strong learning experience.

What advice would you pass on to other PGA Members?

If I look back at my 30 years coaching, I can break it down into three sections. The first 10 years I was largely on my own, working as hard as I could, but looking back I was a bit of a blind mole achieving little. The next 10 years I spent a lot of time with people a lot more knowledgeable than me and researching. Then, over the last 10 years, I’ve spent a huge amount of time interacting with other coaches from all parts of the world.

I would say 99% of what I have learned is from players and other coaches, and the last 1% from my own reflections from being with these people. So, in essence, my advice is to network with others, find mentors and remember that sharing is caring – the more you interact and work with the others, the more everyone benefits.

My final two pieces of advice would be firstly to write down the names of three potential mentors and make a commitment to contact them in the next week. And secondly, to think about how you could utilize and leverage your PGA Membership – we are all fortunate and the more you put in the more you will get out.

CLICK HERE to find out more about PGA Excel and what it means for the golf industry.

PGA Members can find out more about PGA Excel and start their application by CLICKING HERE.

CLICK HERE to view a helpful article on how to successful complete a PGA Excel application.


Our Partners

  • Air IT
  • Banyan Tree
  • The Belfry
  • Coca-Cola
  • EVC
  • FootJoy
  • Gleneagles
  • PING
  • St. James's Place
  • Therabody
  • Titleist