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Llantrisant and Pontyclun’s John McDonald has won the Wales Golf PGA Professional of the Year Award.
The former Wales Golf regional academy coach delivers golf to 18 primary and secondary schools in Rhondda Cynon Taff and received the award in the 2018 Wales Golf Awards ceremony in the 2010 Clubhouse at Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor.
He has also helped Llantrisant and Pontyclun become a Golf Foundation HSBC Golf Roots centre and is one of the supporting PGA professionals of the initial Golf Foundation Golf Sixes Pilot in Wales.
The number of active junior members has increased year on year since he took over, almost tripling in his first year, with a significant number of girls taking up the game.
“I wouldn’t change anything about what we do,” he said, after receiving the trophy. “I really enjoy the development side of coaching, with good assistant pros who enable us to do what we do.
“We are also lucky in having a number of primary schools and secondary schools, some disability coaching as well. We get a real kick out of it.
“We are lucky we have a golf club whose support really helps as well. We try to cover every area of development. Rather than any negativity about golf clubs struggling, we should all be working together to encourage more participation, more retention in every golf club.
“If we all work together it is amazing what we can achieve for golf. It is a lot more accessible than it has ever been, so hopefully the future is pretty good for Welsh golf and junior golf in particular.”
McDonald has been able to make his mark at Llantrisant and Pontyclun after learning his trade at Celtic Manor, the venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup.
“I was fortunate. I started at Celtic Manor in 2010 which was a great time to start,” he said. “It is quite an inspirational place with all the facilities, it gave me the opportunity to develop my craft.
“It is such a big corporate machine the opportunities to grow and develop the game are few and far between.
“The opportunity to move back home came up. We grew the junior section in the first year from 23 to 68 so that was a really good sign.
“The club struggle financially at times, but they are welcoming of initiatives and are open to my ideas of how to drive the club forward. So we have new growth, new ladies schemes, new girls, new juniors, new categories of members.
“When I started there were four members between the ages of 17 to 30, now it is up to about 65, we are trying to target that younger element which should be easy if we can get a strategy in place and do it well.
“We are the first golf club in Wales I believe to use the Albatross digital marketing scheme, a social media marketing company now a preferred supplier with Wales Golf.
“It took me a little time to get the golf club to engage in it, but they have seen the benefit.”