Edinburgh man Neil Manchip followed in the footsteps of the likes of Michael Bannon, Rory McIlroy’s coach, when he received the John Jacobs Award from the PGAs of Europe. The honour was recognition of Manchip’s work as Golfing Union of Ireland national coach and also helping Shane Lowry become a World Golf Championship winner earlier this year.
Celebrating, too, is Steven Orr, brother of Eastwood professional David, after he beat stiff opposition to become the 2015 England Golf Coach of the Year. Orr is the director of coaching at the Cranfield Golf Academy, has been an England Golf regional coach for the past three years and is also the Sussex boys’ coach.
Manchip cut his golfing teeth at Turnhouse, where he trained as a PGA professional under Kevan Whitson, before following him to Royal County Down in Northern Ireland. “He’s been my inspiration and guide in golf over the years,” admitted Manchip after travelling to Turkey to receive his award, one that every single coach in the game feels privileged to win due to the fact it bears the name of one of the sport’s greatest-ever swing gurus.
“I’m really excited to win this award,” added Manchip, who claimed the Irish PGA Championship in 1999, beating a field that included Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, before deciding to focus on coaching rather than pursuing a playing career. “It’s a privilege to be honoured for doing something I really enjoy in the company of lots of great people.
“I’m particularly honoured to win this in the name of John Jacobs. He really was an inspiration to me when I was younger and continues to be so. He’s written some fantastic books on golf and I’ve got to meet him a few times.”
As Lowry’s coach, Manchip has seen his star pupil win the 2009 Irish Open as an amateur then make a dramatic breakthrough on the world stage when he won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August. Sitting 21st in the global standings, the 28-year-old will head into 2016 as one of the leading contenders to be among the rookies on Clarke’s team for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in September. “I’ve had a great time walking the fairways with Shane on Tour and what a great player he’s turned out to be,” admitted Manchip. “That’s very little of my doing – he’s a naturally talented guy. Watching him win at Firestone this year in the WGC was terrific. To see a guy I’d worked with since he was 17 win the Irish Open as an amateur and go on to win at one of the hardest courses on the circuit was fantastic.”
As well as working with players – both elite amateurs and Tour professionals – Orr also trains 20 coaches in his role at the Cranfield Golf Academy. Always striving to extend his own knowledge, this year he achieved both his Masters degree in sports coaching and reached UKCC level 4 status.
He also works as a PGA tutor and travels overseas to support coach education for the R&A’s development panel as well. In his role with Sussex, he has helped create a new coach-led structure in the county.
“This is a huge honour,” said Orr as he joined Terry Casey (outstanding contribution to coaching) and Steve Parrish (volunteer manager of the year) in receiving accolades from England Golf, the governing body for the amateur game south of the border. “The best thing for me has always been the people I work with, both in England Golf and in Sussex – the inspirational coaches and managers who have helped me develop as a coach.”
His highlight of 2015 was watching Sussex golfer Charlie Strickland, a player he’s coached since he was five, reach a play-off for the England Under-16 boys’ title in the McGregor Trophy and win an under-18 boys’ cap.