TYNESIDE Golf Club has recently appointed PGA Professional Gary Vickers as their new club professional. The 39-year-old brings nearly 20 years of experience as a teaching and playing professional to the club.
He obviously has a natural flair for the game because his first allocated handicap was three - practically unheard of at the time.
Gary explained: "I didn't play any amateur golf because I started late at the age of eighteen. At that time I was at North Cliff Golf Club in Scarborough and I turned professional at 20.
"I then went to Oakdale at Harrogate before moving to Knaresborough, which isn't far from Harrogate. At Knaresborough, I worked with Keith Johnson as his assistant, became qualified and when Keith retired, the club offered me the job and I stayed there for over 13 years.
"In February 2006, I started my own business and moved to Switzerland as a golf fitness coach at Zurich University. That was excellent because I managed to do some education there as well - how the body works, how everything functions in a scientific way.
"Basically, I would advise on exercises to try and achieve the correct swing and if that didn't work, I would alter my coaching around what the person could physically do and that had to be scientifically researched.
"Back in the 1990s, I also qualified to play on the European Challenge Tour and leading up to that when I decided to play a little bit and in between doing the job at Knaresborough, I worked with a sports psychologist called Hugh Mantle and that side of the game has always interested me.
"It's not just about a golf swing, I want someone to play better not just to make the swing look nice and therefore there might be other aspects to look at be it the mental side, the physical side of it as well as the golf swing itself.
"So really a golf lesson with me covers everything right from the start, how to loosen up, how to warm up properly, how to practice, what we can change in the technique, how to develop your own game and that includes a lot of special ways of how to practice without hitting ball after ball which is easy to do on a range."
Gary is looking forward to his future at Tyneside and added: "This is a long-term decision for me and I am going to try and build up the pro shop side of things at the club and the pro's relationship with the members. Obviously I'm going to be giving lessons and I still want to play in a few NE/NW PGA events and try and compete to high level."
He concluded: "With having such a large facility here, hopefully I can develop the coaching side of things and create a golf academy and a place where people will want to come down, not only to start playing golf but to develop their golf.
"We are going to sort out a short game area and a short six hole course for players to practice on. And once we've got an assistant sorted out who is either nearly qualified or fully qualified then I'll be able to expand the coaching side of things into local schools and the local community."