Lisa Newling has coached at all manner of facilities during her 25-year career as a PGA Professional. Now, as the Head Professional at Palm Beach Golf Club, Newling has implemented a teaching program aimed at beginners which has also gained the interest of the existing membership.
You need only look at the real estate prices on Sydney’s northern beaches to know that space is at a premium.
Room with a view is even more highly valued.
Located just across the road from where iconic Aussie soapie Home & Away is filmed, Palm Beach Golf Club is a nine-hole, council-owned golf course that splits its tee times between some 400 members and a golf-playing public that has swelled significantly the past 18 months.
With limited coaching facilities at the club, Newling came up with the idea after running clinics for large groups under the banner of the Palmy Beginners Group and questioned whether there was a better way.
“You’ve got people that are serious about playing comp, but you’ve also got a lot of beginners, tradies, people that live in the area and just want to play golf,” Newling says.
“They don’t necessarily want to perfect a swing. They want to play and they want to get some exercise and spend time with their friends.”
Recognising that new golfers want to spend more time on the golf course rather than perfecting their technique, Newling made use of what she had available – a new chipping area, putting green and hitting nets. From there she fashioned a two-hour lesson for groups of four that embeds key fundamentals before taking to the course.
“Once they’ve got their grip, their stance, their basic fundamentals, let’s go play,” Newling says.
“Because there are only four in the in the class it’s really quite personalised tuition.”
In addition to taking away any apprehension that beginners may feel in locking into a six-week commitment, Newling insists that the approach of building from the short game up allows for faster skill acquisition, noticeable improvement and an earlier bite of the golf bug.
“Sometimes people get a bit intimidated by just the straight-out range lessons,” says Newling.
“If it’s someone that’s absolutely brand new, I’ll always just go through grip, aim, posture, learning the basic fundamentals. If it’s someone that’s played for a while, I’ll let them warm up in the nets and we’ll have a look on the golf course, because they don’t go changing things unless we really need to.
“They feel successful because it’s something that they can do. They become more familiar with the course environment and it suits Palm Beach, it suits that demographic.
“A lot of courses, you wouldn’t be able to do that, but because the holes go away and come back to the club within a close proximity, it works well.
“You’ve got your more private clubs where the golf might be considered a lot more serious, people want to play competitions all the time and things like that. At Palm Beach, it’s different, you’ve got both ends of the spectrum.
“To be helping such a broad demographic – from juniors through to 85 and 90-year-olds – is really cool.
“And it’s stunning, right on Pittwater there, it’s such a nice setting. It’s a beautiful course. That’s where new golfers want to be.”
To get the most out of your golf experience find your local PGA Professional at pga.org.au.