PGA professional Mark Tibbles and Community Instructor Anna-Maria England of The Vines Resort in Perth are Golf Australia’s February Visionary of the Year winner.
The pair are golf’s twist on the Odd Couple.
A PGA Professional, Mark Tibbles, and a Community Instructor, Anna-Maria England, effectively working hand in golf glove to inspire Perth women and girls into the sport.
And at Tibbles’ club, The Vines Resort, this has already translated into more than 350 new golfers.
While nobody would question the expertise and critical importance of any PGA pro’s role in player development, England’s role as Tibbles’ support act is almost a new-wave case study of how Community Instructors can help – and how they may well be one of Australian golf’s most inspiring and cohesive duos.
In fact, Tibbles gives himself a pat on the back every time he reflects upon approaching England to help him deliver his club-based programs.
“I had taught Anna-Maria golf for many years and thought that with her passion and interest in the sport that some day she might like to be involved in the industry,” said Tibbles, who’s renowned for his proactivity around group programs.
“My workload was building up and it was time for me to find some assistance.
“Now she’s an invaluable recruit to the team.
England couldn’t be happier with her role in the unit, particularly at a transitional time of her life.
“It worked out perfectly,” she explained.
“I was wanting to wind down from my career and at the same time Mark was wanting to dial up his suite of beginner programs.”
So, England completed her Community Instructor accreditation, sat down with Tibbles and planned their year ahead, including brainstorming how they can improve program offerings.
“I certainly value Anna-Maria’s ideas and opinions,” Tibbles said.
“Her insight as a female golfer has been invaluable. Her vision has resulted in the restructuring of our women’s, mentoring and girls’ programs, which has led to the growth we have seen in program registrations, playing numbers and membership.
“She has also established a Facebook group that connects beginners with each other.” England agreed that her perspective has helped grow Tibbles’ business into what it is today.
“I feel women can relate to me well because I play with them,” she said.
“They get to know me well and see I make mistakes and mis-hit shots just like they do.
“I’ve also had quite a few women feel comfortable enough to confide in me that their chests get in the way and I can make suggestions for them.”
Since 2016, the Perth pair’s collaboration has enabled more than 350 women and girls to have participated in their programs.
England said the women’s Get into Golf program had been particularly popular.
“We are not having to advertise; it is all word of mouth as participants recommend their friends.
“We are now at the point of running four classes a week and a mixed gender class on Saturdays.
“Our MyGolf junior program has a clear pathway from beginner to membership, but I particularly see the need to nurture the girls.
“In 2018, I started running girls’ programs and have done 50+ clinics with six girls now joining the club. Our focus for 2021 is on girls, so watch this space!”
England’s passion and insight soon identified a gap in the pathway and she approached Tibbles about establishing an on-course mentoring program along with a “Next Step” program that takes women thorough a series of skills tests to determine their readiness for on-course play.
“After seeing lots of women repeating our classes, I saw the need to give more opportunity to the more experienced golfers,” said England, whose plans to “wind down” are essentially now on the backburner.
She and Tibbles somehow find time in their week to run programs at schools, exposing many girls to golf for the first time and since 2017, they have also conducted 600 clinics for people with a disability.
“It’s a true joy to see people with disabilities embrace golf and get so much pleasure out of it,” England said.
“I am very fortunate to be able to combine my passion for golf and a love for what I do.
“For me, when you see the way a person’s face lights up upon hitting the ball in the air for the first time, this is just priceless!
“I see new friendships blossom and beginner golfers with big smiles on their faces. When a new golfer joins the club and starts playing competition, I see they have “got the bug” and I just love that!”
Tibbles couldn’t be happier with his recruit.
“Having a Community Instructor has been fantastic,” he said.
“It has given what I do a fresh lease and has enabled me to expand my offerings to a great extent.
“Anna-Maria is extremely deserving of this award While she does generate some income through coaching, she puts a lot of voluntary time into beginners’ golf, adds a lot of value to their experience and has given so much back to the game.
“I am so pleased she enjoys what she does and is a part of our team. It is great to have a platform such as Visionary of the Year to recognise our Community Instructors and their role in growing the game.”
Becoming a Community Instructor is a great way to bring a female face to your beginner programs. The Community Instructor program provides online training and accreditation, equipping people with the skills and knowledge to deliver national participation programs.
Learn more and access Community Instructor training.
The scale of the Vines Golf Resort Women’s Mentoring and Ready Steady Golf programs would not be possible without the support of the WA Golf Foundation. The WA Golf Foundation is a GolfWA initiative and information can be found at www.golfwa.org.au.