FIRST, some clarification: this is not a ranking. To do that would require the space of this entire magazine and more. That’s what happens when you’re the best in your field and have more than 1,900 staff actively involved in setting the bar for performance.

Welcome to the PGA of Australia – the most experienced and respected resource in the Australian golf industry for face-to-face coaching and game advice.

Arranging such an eclectic group in some form of numerical importance is like asking a club golfer to make sense of the national handicap system. So what we have done is select a group of 50 PGA-accredited coaches who ply their trade all across the country – from Hobart to Humpty Doo – that can help you. Some specialise in junior instruction, others have made a name for themselves guiding our elite amateurs onto greener pastures. And, of course, there are those that get their greatest thrills helping everyday hackers slice their handicaps. Regardless of their expertise, they share one thing in common – they’re all great.

So what separates a great coach from a good one?

“Great coaches never leave their students feeling confused about what they’re trying to do,” former US PGA Tour star Nick O’Hern told Australian Golf Digest. “They know exactly what’s required. My coach for the past 20 years, Neil Simpson from Mt Lawley Golf Club, has an ability to tell me the same thing but in a variety of ways. Sometimes one way doesn’t make sense to me while another way seems crystal clear. He has a knack for getting his message across so I understand it completely, and by the end of the lesson begin to own it.”

Australia’s British Open champion from 1991, Ian Baker-Finch, says great coaches don’t follow. They lead.

“Good coaches copy winning philosophies, methodology and programs. Great coaches create them by modelling and improving on what’s already out there,” says Baker-Finch.

“For me it’s being able to communicate clearly what needs to be addressed and what practice drills will allow the mind and body to accept the changes/improvements readily. There are so many attributes needed to become a great coach and I admire those that have been able to provide valuable expertise, advice and guidance to all golfers young and old.”

50 Great PGA Coaches
Ian Triggs with star pupil John Sneden.

Reigning New Zealand Open champion Matthew Griffin, who works with esteemed Melbourne-based coach Denis McDade, says that from the player’s perspective, there are two crucial attributes for a teacher to have. One is naturally an all-round ability; the other is an understanding that teaching a singular action is unwise.

“The best coaches don’t have the one style,” Griffin says. “One of the best things with Denis is you can look at all of his players and, while there are certain things that Denis likes us all to work on, there’s not one style. All of the guys swing the club a little differently and Denis is able to get the best out of our games with not one method.”

Griffin says McDade also possesses the ability to help his players peak at opportune times. “There are certain times when you’re working on developing your game and trying to make improvements, then there’s weeks like the Australian Open and bigger events where it’s all about playing and getting the best out of your game.”

That process can be as fundamental as working on areas that have been successful in the past. Doing so creates a comfort level that ideally inspires confidence – that elusive but vital intangible to success.

The most important skill of all is the coach’s ability to communicate with his or her pupil. “Everyone learns a little differently and then everyone understands things [differently],” Griffin says. “And there are a number of different ways that you can feel certain things that you’re trying to do with your swing. Everyone’s not the same so it’s a matter of finding what it is that helps you feel that thing, which varies between player to player.”

It’s one quality to have the knowledge and to see what any given golfer needs to work on, but another skill entirely to be able to have that information resonate with the person swinging the club. “And if you can’t get that feeling of what it is to you to get you in the right position, then it’s going to be really hard to do it,” Griffin says. “Denis will often express things in a couple of different ways until you get that feeling and you can lock that feeling in and make that swing that he’s wanting you to do.”

Over the coming pages we hope you find the help you are looking for – and that 2017 really is your breakout year on the fairways.

And remember, if all else fails, follow the late, great Arnold Palmer’s legendary advice: “I have a tip that can take five strokes off anyone’s game: It’s called an eraser.”

We’re confident it won’t come to that.

Where’s Your Nearest Pro?

Can’t find a coach on our list close to you? Don’t worry. Simply go to and search your area. PGA professionals can assist you on all facets of the game, including rules and etiquette, personalised coaching or clinics, clubfitting, equipment and apparel advice, club access and event participation and even golf travel opportunities.


Gary Barter
The Australian Golf Club
Lesson fee: Contact for details
(02) 9663 2515

Dennise Hutton
Barton Park Golf Range
Lesson fee: Contact for details
(02) 9567 7234

Jason King
Sydney Golf Academy
Lesson fee: Contact for details
(02) 9663 1064

50 Great PGA Coaches
Jason King

Dean Kinney
Golf NSW
Lesson fee: $150 per hour
[email protected]
0408 442 703

Jason Laws
Jason Laws Golf Academy, Newcastle Golf Club
Lesson fee: $120 to $140 per hour
[email protected]
(02) 4928 1664

Richard Mercer
The Vintage Golf Club
Lesson fee: $75 per half hour, $130 per hour, one to three-day golf schools starting from $435
[email protected]
0429 001 611

Kylie Moulds
Marrickville Golf Club
Lesson fee: $55 per half hour ($35 for juniors), $100 per hour, $120 for four one-hour group lessons. Packages available
[email protected]
(02) 9558 6862

Lisa Newling
Tura Beach Country Club
Lesson fee: Contact for details
[email protected]
0417 485 635

Mark Officer
Specialist in putting and golf technologies
Lesson fee: $150 per hour
[email protected]
0416 078 332

Khan Pullen
Jack Newton Junior Golf
Lesson fee: e-mail for availability and pricing
[email protected]
0430 347 803

Annabel Rolley
Australian Golf Digest TV
Lesson fee: $275 per hour
[email protected]

50 Great PGA Coaches
Annabel Rolley

John Serhan
St Michael’s Golf Club
Lesson fee: $80 per half hour, $140 per hour
[email protected]
0411 570 540

Glenn Whittle
Barton Park Golf Range
Lesson fee: $75 per half hour; $135 per hour
[email protected]
0439 165 750

Teaching Tour Pros

Coaching the Cream of the Crop

Teaching players to be self-reliant is a key behind the success of Denis McDade’s stable of tour professionals

50 Great PGA Coaches
Denis McDade

If TOURNAMENT victories are proof of a teacher’s worth, then Denis McDade has enjoyed a remarkably successful past 24 months.

All six players he coaches on a full-time basis have won tournaments in the past two years:

Marc Leishman – Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, South Africa;

Marcus Fraser – Maybank Championship Malaysia on the European Tour;

Matthew Griffin – BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in Queenstown;

Bryden Macpherson – Cadillac Championship and Lushan Open on the PGA Tour China;

Ashley Hall – Victorian PGA Championship at Huntingdale;

Ryan Ruffels – Australian Boys’ Amateur Championship at Kooyonga.

What’s interesting is that McDade wasn’t present for any one of those victories. It underscores what the 2012 PGA Teacher of the Year has been trying to achieve: McDade wants his players to be self-reliant – able to analyse and correct a fault:

“One of the things I don’t want is a player to be on the other side of the world and hit a couple of bad shots, turn around, I’m not there and they think, I’m not going to be able to play well this week,” he says.

“I want them to have that self-reliance and presence of mind to objectively step back from what they’re doing.

“In my experience, when they drop off it’s not because they’ve invented some new poor movement. It’s because they’ve regressed into an old pattern. It’s a matter of helping them understand that and going through a process where they make that correction.”

Fraser’s victory in Malaysia last February was an example of how a problem can be rectified quickly. The 37-year-old Victorian had been struggling at the start of 2016. His swing literally deserted him on the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’. He had broken 72 just once in eight rounds and three tournaments (MC, T-59, MC).

By going back to basic fundamentals – something McDade hammered into him – Fraser solved the problem. He came home and figured out his alignment was out of whack. He found a different variation on working with his alignment that suited his eye and felt good.

Two weeks later in Kuala Lumpur, Fraser won his third European Tour title to end a winless streak of five years and 302 days.

“He was aiming too far right,” McDade explains. “He’s always liked to have the ball just fall a little right. He doesn’t like hitting the ball left. So he likes the ball to work, if anything, a little left to right. He’s done that his whole career.

“But the further right he aims, the more he’s got to come ‘over the top’ to start the ball far enough left for it to finish on target – which becomes a really weak shot for him with poor contact.”

Leishman is quite self-reliant, but he still needs contact with his coach several times a year. Usually, it’s a combination of McDade watching him play events and working with him away from tournaments. It also includes liaising with Leishman’s sports psychologist and trainer, who are both based in America.

Of course, it’s unrealistic for a teenager such as Ruffels to be autonomous. As an 18-year-old embarking on a professional career, he needs constant monitoring and feedback. While developing a set of mechanics for all aspects of his game, McDade is spending more time with Ruffels than any other player.

“My plan over time would be to step back from that a little,” McDade says.

“I’m a great believer that you’re trying to build an athlete that can stand on their own two feet for the greater part of their career. And to some extent, your job is to make yourself almost obsolete.”


Steve Bann
Yarra Bend Golf Complex
Lesson fee: Contact for details
(03) 9481 7874

Nick Bielawski
PGA Centre for Learning and Performance
Lesson fee: $130 per hour
[email protected]
(03) 8320 1902

Peter Croker
Eagle Ridge Golf CourseLesson fee: $200 per hour, with several packages available
[email protected]
0415 292 549

Christian Hamilton
Golf Australia
Lesson fee: $120 per hour
[email protected]
(03) 9626 5015, 0438 848 005

Mark Holland
PGA Centre for Learning and Performance
Lesson fee: e-mail for availability and pricing
[email protected]
0408 416 461

Sandy Jamieson
Commonwealth Golf Club
Lesson fee: $65 per half hour, $120 per hour, $240 for nine-hole playing lesson at Commonwealth Golf Club
(03) 9575 0444

Martin Joyce
Victorian Institute of Sport
Lesson fee: Contact for details
[email protected]

Peter Knight
Yarra Bend Golf Complex
Lesson fee: $70 per half hour ($49.50 for juniors), $132 per hour ($99 for juniors)
[email protected]
0416 142 658

Stuart Leong
Albert Park Driving Range
Lesson fee: Contact for details
[email protected]
0481 119 983

Glenn McCully/James McCully/Andrew Long
McCully Golf, Black Bull Golf Club
Lesson fee: $50 per half hour,
$100 per hour, three and five-day packages available
[email protected]
(03) 5744 0044, 0413 527 526

Denis McDade
Yarra Bend Golf Complex
Lesson fee: Contact for details
[email protected]
(03) 9481 3729

David Williams
Rossdale Golf Club
Lesson fees: $55 per half hour, $95 per hour (buy five lessons and receive the sixth lesson free), $199 for two hrs
[email protected]
(03) 9580 4763, 0422 276 142

Teaching Women

It’s Not About Competition

Understanding what ladies want out of the game is the key to success.

VIRGINIA Irwin has a theory that, if embraced by Australian golf clubs, could pave the way to record membership numbers in the years to come.

Irwin, who has been the Queensland women’s coach and on the Golf Queensland coaching panel since 2009, believes the problem with connecting women with golf has nothing to do with time management or the sport’s dominant male participation rate.

50 Great PGA Coaches
Virginia Irwin with one of her students.

“From the conversations I’ve had with my students, women want to have something to enjoy with their friends,” Irwin says. “They’re not looking for a competitive environment, they simply want to get out and play socially.”

Irwin, who operates out of Victoria Park Golf Learning Centre in Brisbane, says one of the great challenges Aussie golf faces is that club membership is too driven by competition golf.

“If you ask the majority of members at any club, they will tell you they renew their memberships each year so they can play in two to three competitions per week – it’s how they justify the financial outlay,” she says. “(But) I’m afraid we’re still too competition-heavy within the club environment for women, particularly at the beginner’s level. There’s still a disconnect there because most women new to the game have no interest in playing competition rounds.”

It poses the question – do we have too many competitions at our clubs?

“It depends who you ask but providing more social tee-times, particularly for those new to the sport, is key for the growth of membership golf in this country,” says Irwin, a member of both the PGA of Australia and ALPG. “A lot of my clients want to use golf to forge friendships and, most importantly, they want to feel comfortable in their surroundings. Aussie clubs have come a long way over the past five years to make their environments more inviting but we’re not there yet.”

Irwin remains heavily involved in coaching elite players but admits there’s something special about coaching women new to the sport.

“Those learning the fundamentals tend to want to drive the lesson, which is fine by me,” Irwin says. “They come to me with questions and if they don’t get the information they want they will leave disappointed. So it’s vital I explain everything so they don’t lose the golf bug. There are positives to coaching elite players but at the other end of the scale, seeing someone feel ecstatic about hitting six good shots and not be concerned about the technical areas of the game is extremely satisfying.”


Garry Calder
Brisbane Golf Club
Lesson fee: $130 per hour
[email protected]
(07) 3848 3158

Phil Curd
Bargara Golf Club
Lesson fee: Contact for details
[email protected]
(07) 4159 2257

Gary Edwin
The Glades Golf Club
Lesson fee: Contact for details
(07) 5569 1950

Grant Field
Pelican Waters Golf Club
Lesson fee: $140 per hour
[email protected]
0417 916 811

Mark Gibson
RACV Royal Pines Resort
Lesson fee: $120 per hour
[email protected]
0417 722 176

Peter Heiniger
Noosa Springs Golf Club
Lesson fees: $65 per half hour, $120 per hour (or $65 each for two people), $230 for nine-hole on-course lesson
[email protected]
0477 183 654

Virginia Irwin
Victoria Park Golf
Lesson fees: $70 per half hour, $130 per hour
[email protected]
0427 623 495

Murray Lott
Golf Central BNE
Lesson fee: Contact for details

Tony Meyer
Golf Queensland
Lesson fee: $140 per hour
[email protected]
0424 994 933

David Nable
Lakelands Golf Club
Lesson fee: $110 per hour
[email protected]
0407 367 725

Ian Triggs
Brookwater Golf & Country Club
Lesson fee: Contact for details
(07) 3814 5500

Mark Victorsen
Pacific Golf Club
Lesson fees: $65 per half hour,
$125 per hour
[email protected]
(07) 3343 9487

Richard Woodhouse
KDV Sport, Gold Coast
Lesson fee: $140 per hour
[email protected]
0415 853 337

Teaching Kids

Child’s Play

When coaching keys, apply the five-minute rule, use targets and don’t forget to add a splash of colour.

ANNE-Marie Knight is qualified to coach the best players in the game. A former member of the Ladies European Tour and ALPG Tour in Australia, her resume is full of accolades, including a German Open victory and beating Karrie Webb as an amateur. She has all the knowledge and playing experience to guide Australia’s next big thing. But that’s not her style.

50 Great PGA Coaches
Anne-Marie Knight doesn’t just excel with juniors.

Instead, the 2016 South Australian PGA Teaching Professional of the Year dedicates a large chunk of her time to the sport’s next generation at Adelaide Shores Golf Academy. There, Knight takes it upon herself to do one of the most critically important roles in golf – putting golf clubs in children’s hands for the very first time.

“What can I say – I have a real passion for kids and seeing their faces light up when they achieve something,” says Knight, who became only the second female winner of the PGA Teaching Professional of the Year in the organisation’s rich history, joining women’s golf pioneer Dennise Hutton.

“Life is full of people not getting credit for what they do, but I get a buzz when kids are walking away, high-fiving one another and having a good time hitting balls. That’s what golf is all about.”

Knight has implemented some effective coaching principles for her junior clinics, methods she learnt from having children of her own. “I’ve learnt from experience to always apply the five-minute rule when dealing with kids,” she says. “After five minutes switch to another exercise to keep them interested. Remember, you’re dealing with short attention spans at this age so it helps to actually be a kid yourself and go down to their level.

“I also use a lot of targets. Kids love to hit targets – it stimulates their minds and believe it or not, they can become quite competitive. I use tennis balls, rubber balls, it doesn’t matter … as long as they remain curious. I like to let kids to discover things for themselves, learn to be creative and experiment by hitting colourful targets. At the end of the day, I always make sure they go home with prizes. They love it.”

Knight, who grew up playing in Renmark, three hours from Adelaide, said the dynamics of junior golf had changed in recent years.

“Kids are getting younger and younger,” she says. “It wasn’t that long ago I was getting eight, nine, 10, 11 and 12-year-olds coming to my clinics. Now I’m teaching three, four and five-year-olds the basics of golf. This is great news but we really have to tap into this market properly and ensure we have all the proper programs in place with all the appropriate equipment.”

Knight doesn’t agree with the perception that golf is too expensive
for newcomers.

“My junior clinics only cost $100 for 10 terms – that’s 10 one-hour lessons with equipment supplied and they get goodies along the way, plus optional gear that is inexpensive in comparison to other sports. So on a whole I think golf is very affordable for juniors.”

Western Australia

Craig Bishop
Golf Box
Lesson fee: Contact for details
[email protected]
(08) 9421 8090

Rob Farley
Marangaroo Golf Course
Lesson fees: $55 per half hour, $110 per hour
[email protected]
(08) 9247 1733, 0417 989 297

Duncan Kegg
Mt Lawley Golf Club
Lesson fee: $65 per half hour, $95 for 45 minutes using Flightscope, $240 for private AimPoint green reading instruction. Packages available.
[email protected]
(08) 9271 4033, 0403 311 707

Lawrie Montague / David Milne
Joondalup Golf & Country Club
Lesson fee: $1,500 per day (five hours)
[email protected] / [email protected]
(08) 9301 2599

Ritchie Smith
Perth Golf Academy
Lesson fee: $79.50 per half hour, $139.50 per hour
[email protected]
(08) 9332 7497

South Australia

Daniel Blackwell
Royal Adelaide Golf Club
Lesson fee: $140 per hour
[email protected]
(08) 8356 8508, 0401 782 829

Matthew Dent
Blackwood Golf Club
Lesson fee: Contact for details
[email protected]
(08) 8388 2250

Gareth Jones
Glenelg Golf Club
Lesson fee: $120 per hour
[email protected]
(08) 8350 3250

Anne-Marie Knight
Adelaide Shores Golf Academy
Lesson fee: $50 per half hour ($44 for juniors), $90 per hour
[email protected]
(08) 8356 4811


Zak Rollins
Seabrook Golf Club
Lesson fee: Contact for details
[email protected]
(03) 6442 4088

Nick White
Tasmania Golf Club
Lesson fee: $60 per half hour, $110 per hour
[email protected]
(03) 6248 5138

Northern Territory

Stephen Tieck
Alice Springs Golf Club
Lesson fee: $47 to $55 per half hour; game-improvement packages: pay for three and receive four
[email protected]
(08) 8952 6575, 0488 331 554