John Byrne: Nothing can substitute being on grass with your coach


May 9, 2018

John Byrne is the resident Head PGA Professional at Royal Tara Golf Club in County Meath in Ireland. John is one of only three Taylormade Ambassadors in Ireland, and one of 30 across Europe. John has recently established a junior golf school called Little Mulligans which he plans to expand in the coming year. With almost 200 juniors receiving regular coaching he hopes to have a future champion coming soon.

We had a chance to speak with John to hear his story of becoming a PGA Pro and learn more of his views on teaching.

Would you start off by describing your journey to becoming a PGA Pro.

I grew up very close to my local golf club. We played there every single day and I always looked up to and respected the Head Professional at that club. He always had time for us juniors and told us stories of golfing greats he had encountered throughout his career. I was infected by his enthusiasm for the game and was also amazed by the respect and pride he had in being a member of The Professional Golfers Association.

I knew at a very young age that I was going to be a professional golfer. I worked in the pro shop during school holidays. I learned allot about the game, its history and also about the golf swing. I played daily with the Assistant Professionals which no doubt played a major role in my selection to play for the National Team. This was my first introduction to elite coaching. I observed how the national coach approached each golfer differently.

After graduating from college having studied a wide range of subjects and a combination of Business Studies and Sports Science I decided to turn professional and registered as a trainee golf professional. Following my training I graduated with Distinction in Coaching and decided that this was what I wanted to do.

John (pictured right) at Ambassador Cup 2018 in Carlsbad, California. From left Raphael Pellicioli, France, Arnaud Langenaeken, Belgium, and John Murray, Scotland.

Tell us more about your customers and services

My customers vary considerably depending on the time of year. I feel we can cater for all levels of golfers which is why our facility is so popular.

At the early stages of the season we focus on beginner golf schemes and coach mainly golfers who have not played during the winter season. In the springtime we focus on the more advanced players and our members. These golfers have played some golf during the off-season but now need our help to improve. This continues throughout the golfing season.

During the Summer, our time gets taken up by junior golf. We have almost 200 junior golfers who receive regular coaching from me and my professional staff.

We offer an all encompassing golfing service. From coaching professionals, beginners, juniors to custom fitting all major brands to selling all golfing accessories from pencils to golf buggies. If it’s anything associated with golf, WE WILL SELL IT.

John with one of his junior golfers.

What do you consider you to be your specialities?

I specialise in custom fitting and I am best know for my role as an Ambassador for both Taylormade and Adidas Golf. We are one of Ireland’s leading Taylormade fitting facilities and people travel from all over Ireland to spend some time with us.

I am very fortunate to have the support of the biggest brand in the world of golf and the clothing and footwear support from the biggest brand in sport. I get to see behind closed doors of their amazing facilities in Europe and in the U.S.

I would guess I am most well know for my social media. I believe having thousands of followers on Twitter is like having millions of euros in Monopoly. Great in theory but no substitute for hard work.

How do expect golf and golf tuition services to develop over the next 5-10 years?

Golf tuition is changing. Radar systems and ball flight tracking devices have made precise coaching easier to display instant feedback and results to the student. The golf swing is staying relatively the same – coaching methods may vary, but, they still deliver the same message. Its difficult to reinvent the wheel.

I sometimes feel coaches feel the need to justify their existence by ALWAYS changing a golfer during a lesson. I’ve had experience of a regular student when I simply say, “I’m happy with what I see, we’re done”. If it is not broken, don’t fix it.

Online coaching is beneficial and we have given some online lessons but nothing can substitute being on grass with your coach standing beside you. This is and always will be the best form of teacher, student interaction.

John’s home club Royal Tara Golf Club is located north of Dublin in the heart of County Meath.

How do you see the role of digital services going forward?

Online booking is a must for anyone offering a booking service to customers. My wife runs a Physiotherapy Clinic with large footfall and when I saw how an online booking system benefited her business, it was a must for me. When Mikko called to see me it was a “where do I sign” moment as I had been looking for a system exactly like this one for some time.

What have been your experiences with Birdietime so far?

It is simple both for the coach and the student to operate. Trust me, I’m no Bill Gates but I find it fantastic. I’m still playing around with it and I find that’s the best way to learn: jump in with two feet and it’s a case of sink or swim!

What are your top 3 tips for a golfer?

Well, that’s simple: 1) PRACTICE, 2) PRACTICE and 3) PRACTICE.

To learn more about John’s tuition service and book a lesson with him, visit his website.

This blog post is part of Birdietime’s Featured Pro -series. We’ve met hundreds of PGA Pros during the past couple of years, and some of them have really impressed us with their energy and professionalism. In this Birdietime Featured Pro -series, we will introduce you to some of them!