James Kane Nash is convinced he was always going to end up coaching.
As a teenager, Nash would pore over golf magazines and articles looking for insights into the game.
In 2008, on completing his PGA training, he was named top coach in the UK and Ireland after finishing first in his final year examinations.
More recently, Nash has completed the PGA Level 4 Certificate in Coaching Golf, becoming the first PGA in Ireland coach to reach that level.
To be awarded the Level 4 Certificate in Coaching Golf you need to have achieved the Level 3 Certificate in Coaching Golf, successfully complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Sport coaching and submit a coaching application to The PGA.
The process tested the fortitude of the 45-year-old but now out on the other side, Nash is convinced it has helped him become a better coach.
“I told the PGA that when I received that coaching award in 2008 I wasn’t really coaching. It should be a teaching award,” said James.
“There is a difference between teaching and coaching. Teaching is more about telling. Coaching is about drawing out and creating ownership and responsibility in the individual.”
Nash played amateur golf for Leinster and Ireland and turned professional in 97 with ambitions to make a career playing competitively. In July 2003, he was assaulted and the resulting injuries effectively ended his playing dreams.
He battled back and threw himself into learning, qualifying as a PGA professional in 2008 and completing his level three coaching certificate in 2013.
“Attaining the Level Three qualification was a great affirmation for me. You are talking about the soft skills, about the care and empathy involved in working with an individual,” added Nash.
It was a natural progression to move on to the Level Four, but Nash admits that he struggled in the early stages of his PG Dip course in sports coaching.
“It was a hair-pulling experience. I never saw myself as an academic,” he added.
“I was sitting in a lecture hall with all these recent sports graduates.
“I felt so out of place it was ridiculous. I remember coming home from the induction and saying, ‘I’m not cut out for this. These people are alien to me’.
“I had to teach myself to speed read, how to write academic papers. I had to upskill to mix.”
Nash describes himself as an ‘expert in skill acquisition’ and believes that other PGA coaches could certainly improve and add to their knowledge by making a move into academia.
“If someone sets a goal and we want to be able to do that I have to use all the learning theories and all the philosophies and every single piece of information I can get my hands on,” he said.
“Everything I do is underpinned by the learning. It’s not a case of just giving something a go.
“It’s concrete and their journey makes sense. Everything they do has to be relevant to the journey they are on.”