Birmingham’s Aaron Lansberry puts the fun into golf for hundreds of youngsters – and it won him the England Golf Coach of the Year Award for 2019. Aaron explains his reasons for going into junior coaching and how he’s managed to build a business model around teaching young golfers.
What were your first primary golf
I didn’t have much money so I wanted to make some money! I came out of university in 2011 and went straight to a club caller Tippery Green which was a tiny nine-hole course, which has now shut down, and I just tried to fill up my diary. I started to mingle with members and coach whoever and whenever I could really. When I first started I was coaching just adults. It took me about six months before I set up the junior side of it.
What made you want to set up a junior academy eight years ago and were you teaching adults at the same time?
I was teaching adults all throughout the week at that point and it was coming towards the end of the summer so it was going okay. My boss at the time who was working with me did four or five children’s lessons a week at a club where he was full time so he suggested setting up an academy as a bit of extra income. I started one up on a Saturday and it started from there.
Seven years later you’re a full-time junior coach, how long have you been a full-time junior coach?
It’s not really an official thing but about 18 months. It’s gone from one junior lesson on a Saturday to five so that takes up most of my Saturday and it’s grown into mid-week too. It went from being 90 per cent adults, 10 per cent kids to the other way round.
What made you become a full-time junior coach?
I guess it’s because it was going so well. The Saturday sessions over at my old club were full. I had five sessions with ten kids in each session. Then I moved over to Hatchford and I wasn’t doing any mid-week stuff at this point. We were running tournaments and Christmas parties, stuff like that at the club, but at Hatchford my Saturdays were full and I still had kids inquiring. I thought I might as well see what happens so I ended up running lessons on a Thursday, then two sessions on a Thursday and Tuesday. Another coach came on board and ran lessons on Wednesday, it just kept growing. We had to think about how we delivered the sessions in order to make it grow but there was no moment where I said ‘now I’m going to be a kid’s coach’. I guess I slowly became a specialist in kid’s coaching and I was never a specialist in anything else. I used to teach an adult like any other golf pro, whereas the kid’s stuff I started getting more into it and starting branding myself as a junior golf specialist because I felt I knew what I was doing.
What has been the most beneficial personal development experience?
The support of the PGA’s Business Relationship Officers (BROs) has been very helpful. My girlfriend is a non-golfer so she hasn’t got a ‘scooby’ about golf. As soon as I say something like X, Y and Z to try and get more kids involved, she’ll tell me it’s a dreadful idea because she’s come from a non-golfing background. If I want to attract a mother to golf for example, then she’ll know how to approach it.
What was important about getting an opinion non-golf?
I’ve played golf since I was three so I know golf inside out but my girlfriend hadn’t heard of it until she met me. That meant that anything that happens she could say if it was going to work or not and whether that would work for a non-golfer. It’s smarter way to make more business.
What did you find has been your greatest challenge when focusing on junior golf as your primary source or income?
One of the biggest challenges is working in the day-time. Kids have to go to school so that makes it quite difficult if I’m not in a school so I’ve had to make a lot of links within schools. It’s been quite touch to get your foot in the door at schools. However, once you’re in, you’re in forever if you want it and you do a decent job.