Golf: Monks loses funding over PGA certificate

Gregor Monks helped Ewen Ferguson win the British Boys. Picture: Contributed
Gregor Monks helped Ewen Ferguson win the British Boys. Picture: Contributed
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THE golf coach who helped Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson win the British Boys’ Championship – the standout performance by a Scottish amateur this year – is no longer part of the SGU Academy programme.

Gregor Monks, who is based at Brucefields Golf Centre on the outskirts of Stirling, made the decision himself to end his involvement in the national set-up after being encouraged along with other coaches to secure a specific PGA qualification.

The drive to “raise standards” in coaching has been defended by Scottish Golf performance manager Steve Paulding, who is sad to see Monks depart but 
described changes to the Academy programme as a “quality control” exercise.

Monks, who trained under Ian Rae, the current national coach, was appointed as the Central Scotland National Academy coach in 2005, since when he has watched a number of his players earn individual and representative honours, with Ferguson blossoming this year into one of the country’s brightest young talents.

Now, as the 17-year-old bids to build on becoming the first Scot to win the British Boys since 2004, he will be working with Monks outside the Academy programme after the coach decided demands being made by the SGU through its performance team were not conducive to his bread and butter coaching.

“All SGU Academy coaches and the national under 18 and 16 coaches were told last year that to continue working in our roles we would have to attain the PGA Level 3 certificate,” said Monks.

“I had some really enjoyable discussions with fellow coaches on some of the topics within the programme but personally found most of what was delivered neither motivational or something I’d use on a daily basis in my coaching. The course was delivered by coaches from other sports – cricket and netball – as they already run with the Level 3 certificate in coaching framework. Although they were very competent in their roles, 
I may have shown more interest in the course had it been run by golfers.

“There had been another one or two guys who initially said they weren’t taking part in PGA Level 3, but from what I can make out I’m the only person from Scotland in the end that refused to do it. I’m certain the manner in which the Academy is run at present is going to change, either this year or next, with the launch of the 50 development centres and I’ve no doubt there’s something political in the background with governing bodies or funding which has led to my finishing with the SGU due to not following protocol.

“Over the last few years the SGU/Academy has taken a lot of stick in the manner in which it’s been run. A few of us, including myself, have been accused of being stack and tilt coaches. But I never thought the original Academy was ever that bad as it evolved with the introduction of nutrition, flexibility, strength and conditioning etc.”

Paulding is confident Scottish golf will benefit in the long run from coaches having the highest qualifications possible, but reckons Ferguson’s potential progress will be unhindered by Monks no longer being part of the Academy.

“The Academy programme has evolved quite massively in the four years I’ve been involved and even in the three years before that,” he said. “The structure where a player had to work with an Academy coach is long gone.

“It’s about trying to raise standards and we are working closely with the PGA to build a network of coaches and we are encouraging them to go through the highest level of qualification. The likes of Ian Rae, Kevin Craggs and Neil Marr have all gone through this process. Gregor Monks started it but decided it wasn’t for him.

“It is an ability to quality control. In the next five years we hope that 20-50 coaches will have this qualification and they’ll be able to work with players over a longer period of time. New players coming in will stay with their coaches rather than going to one in the network.

“Gregor will lose his Academy funding and also the Academy tag, but he’ll still be eligible to work with players and he will be supported with available funding. It is his personal choice.”