WHEN the son of a former Carlisle United footballer finds himself in the Lisbon area and accepts an invitation to give putting lessons to players who include a golfer educated at what is now Paris-Sorbonne University, he knows he has arrived as a coach of international renown.
John Harrison, Matfen Hall’s director of coaching, is the only player on the European Senior Tour to also have a hands-on role heading up a golf academy, where he will be back giving lessons today.
Last week he pitched up at Belas Clube de Campo, the latest venue chosen to host a tournament on one of the European tours.
It was not lost on Belas that the previous weekend one of the players whose talent Harrison has natured, Ashington’s Kenneth Ferrie – who also represents Matfen – had won for the third time on the European Tour, this time in Austria.
As yet Belas will be unaware there is another potential Harrison-groomed Tour winner on the way up – good luck and hard work permitting – in the 2011 England Under-16 Boys Open champion, City of Newcastle’s Jack Hermeston.
Harrison has strong connections all over the North East.
He learned his golf at the Brampton club in Carlisle, where his father, Bob Harrison, now 81, was a winger during the Bill Shankly era around 60 years ago.
Harrison’s first job as a PGA club professional was at Barnard Castle, where he had a brief and unrewarding stint on the European Tour as a player who allowed himself to be overawed by the “famous five” – Ballesteros, Faldo, Woosnam, Langer and Lyle – and felt he did not belong.
Fast forward to the present day and Harrison is the first to admit he has yet to kick on during his second year on the Senior Tour after a promising debut season in 2010, but when he accepted an invitation to give a putting clinic on one of the Belas practice greens on the last day of their debut tour event, this former EGU England North Region coach was right at the top of his legendary teaching game.
Among the golfers he instructed was April Tod, a globe-trotting magazine writer who covers golf, sailing, skiing and tennis for several international publications.