It wasn’t until Aaron Cox became the Head PGA Professional at Caboolture Golf Club at 26 years of age that he discovered the joys of coaching.
A former student at Kelvin Grove State College in Brisbane who would at times cross paths with a kid from Beaudesert two years his junior named Jason Day, Cox harboured the dreams of many junior golfers showing proficiency at a young age.
Yet his success in golf would come later, on the other side of the world developing a junior program that is now the envy throughout England.
Cox was named the Participation and Development Coach of the Year at the 2022 England Golf Awards in April in recognition of the establishment and flourishing junior development program at Blackwell Grange Golf Club in the north of England.
When he applied for and accepted the role in January 2019 it was to work 20 hours in the shop servicing the 750 members; how he filled the rest of his week teaching was entirely up to Cox.
With only two juniors currently engaged at the club and having spent the past 12 months conducting 15 junior classes a week at Golf World Stansted, Cox invested his time and energies into building what was at the time a non-existent junior base.
He offered free, four-week programs and e-mailed, called and visited local schools as a way of introducing kids to the game.
Of the 45 in his initial intake, 38 continued on with the program. Those numbers doubled in the second offering and within four months the club’s base of six juniors had expanded to 120.
He has since developed a seven-level junior development book, with a uniquely Australian twist.
“Each level was a colour but also an Australian animal,” Cox explains.
“Over here it works as a good little joke. Level one’s koala. Then you move to wombat. Then I threw in tiger for Tiger Woods. And then the shark for the Great White Shark, my hero, my idol, Greg Norman.
“My philosophy with junior coaching is creating a process and a discipline that they follow. I teach G-A-S-P-T-T-R and I’ve got six-year-olds who know what those letters mean. They’re the main structures of my discipline: G for grip, A for aim, S for stance, P for posture, T for triangle, T for takeaway, and then R for rotation. They learn about those words and what those words mean. I then use those seven letters as the core of their entire golf game.”
Yet as a trainee at Phillip Island Golf Club under Marcus Liberman who would twice Monday qualify for the Australian Open, coaching was initially a daunting proposition.
“Funnily enough, through my traineeship, I was scared out of my mind of coaching,” admits Cox, who coached rising amateur Justice Bosio in her formative years at Caboolture.
“I went through Q School and spent 12 months on the Australasian Tour in 2011 and realised pretty quickly that I was absolutely nowhere near good enough to play on tour.
“In 2012 I got the Head Professional role at Caboolture and that’s where I started getting my confidence to teach. It took me nearly four years to get 100 per cent confidence in my teaching ability and the information that I was giving out.
“And the rest, as they say, is history.”
Cox’s impact at Blackwell Grange extends far beyond engaging juniors with fun lessons that develop their core skills.
With the support of the club, he converted a spare fairway into a six-hole junior course – complete with flags and signage provided by a local sponsor – and conducts junior tournaments in line with professional golf’s showpiece events.
Starting with the Players Tournament in March, the series of eight, two-round tournaments for kids aged between five and 12 includes the Masters in April, Blackwell Grange Classic in May, the Tour Championship in June and the big one, the Junior Academy Open Championship in July, complete with its own claret jug.
More recently, Cox has established the ACED Academy (Aaron Cox Elite Development) and is guiding golf-mad teens down the same path he walked thousands of kilometres back in Australia.
“The fun thing for me is that I’ve now got a junior section at my golf club and I’m becoming the mentor for kids also looking to become PGA Professionals.”
• There are numerous career avenues available within the golf industry. To find your pathway to becoming a PGA Professional, visit pga.org.au/education