A Scottish golfer who first picked up a golf club at aged just four has become the youngest ever recipient of PGA Master Professional status.
Littlehampton-based Steven Orr, now 40, who is director of coaching and development at the Cranfield Golf Academies, received the accolade in the latest APAL (Accreditation for Professional Achievement and Learning) awards.
Orr grew up playing golf on the south side of Glasgow at East Renfrewshire Golf Club where he and his older brother, David, who is also a successful PGA pro, were passionate about the game right from the start.
The younger Orr harboured hopes of playing on the European Tour but has ended up as a renowned coach with a host of achievements to his name including being one of the first PGA pros to undertake the UKCC Level 4 Certificate in Coaching.
Ironically, it was a golfer who famously never had a lesson - Bubba Watson - that persuaded Orr that he wasn’t going to cut it as a player at the highest level and stoked a passion for coaching.
Orr played a few rounds with Watson while at university in Alabama and it was a wake-up call to his own tour ambitions.
“From my teens I wanted to be a European Tour player but I promised myself that when the day it became evident it was not going to happen as a tour player that coaching was where I wanted to be,” said Orr who is also an England Regional coach.
“Playing with Bubba you could see he was a different standard and it was maybe a turning point when I realised there were players far better than me.
“The other moment that brought it home was when I played in the Johnnie Walker Championship and played with Peter Hanson who went on to play in two Ryder Cups. There was a big gulf to these world class players and by the time I was 26 I realised I was not going to achieve my tour ambitions.
“Coaching was beginning to hold a fascination when I put a foot in the coaching world. I went from playing ten hours a day to not playing for a year because I was so absorbed in coaching.
“I’m totally fascinated with coaching and in fact it’s outgrown my fascination with playing in a way I never thought would happen.”
Orr, who described himself as a decent player who competed on the Europro Tour and made some Challenge Tour appearances, believes his appetite for coaching was fuelled by his playing experiences.
“I think my fascination with coaching grew out of my failure as a player. I was looking from a playing perspective and wanted to understand why,” he added.
“I love coaching, I do 70 hours a week but it doesn’t feel as though I’ve worked a day since 2003. My love for coaching grows every day, I’m very fortunate that I have got a job that doesn’t feel like work. I think every passionate coach will tell you the same.
“Also, part of journey over the last 15 years has been in coach education including as a PGA tutor and working overseas for the R&A. I’ve found that really interesting - how we develop effectively as coaches and how that process works.”
Reflecting on his PGA Master Professional accolade, Orr added: “This is a real honour to be given this award by the PGA especially when you look at some of the guys on the list of Master Professionals.
“Several of them have been huge mentors, notably Scott Cranfield who I have worked under from day one of the start of my coaching career.”
Also celebrating were Jussi Pitkanen (Ireland PGA coach education and development manager), Shane Rose (Cold Ashby), Kieron Stevenson (Royal Troon) and Ian Wrigley (Dunham Forest) who achieved PGA Fellow Professional status.
The following were accorded PGA Advanced Professional membership: Stephen Ennis (Balcarrick), Robert Giles (Greenore), Lewis Hanney (Oake Manor), Graham Hawkings (Malvern College), Simon Hayward (Westridge), Mark Norton (Northants County), Mark Sturgess (Bourn Golf) and Scott Thompson (Mendip Spring).