WELL-KNOWN North East professional Kevin Gow has moved on to pastures new after spending over 15 years as head pro at Houghton-le-Spring. The 44-year-old has just taken over at the Mayfair Driving Centre at Seaton Carew - and has big plans.
Kevin has turned the former shop area at the Mayfair into a café that will serve light meals and drinks, while he intends to spend more of his time teaching and building up links with local schools.
He told Golf North East: "This is a great opportunity to get back to doing what I love most, teaching. The driving range has excellent practice facilities and I'm really hoping to build up the lessons side of the business here.
"I'm particularly planning to encourage more ladies to come along and I'll also be offering mixed lessons as well as coaching for men too."
Kevin - and his part-time assistant Carl Meldrum, who also works for Andrew Blunt at Seaham Golf Club - is specially targeting junior golf and has already set up a scheme that involves two local schools.
He added: "I did quite a bit of work with juniors and schoolchildren while I was at Houghton and that's something I really want to develop further here at the Mayfair."
Kevin has a wealth of experience, having first turned professional at the tender age of 16.
Originally from the village of Stakeford in Northumberland, Kevin was a junior at his local club, Morpeth, before becoming an assistant at nearby Bedlingtonshire.
He completed his training at Blyth before returning to his home club as a pro.
He then spent five years in Sweden at Stockholm Golf Club, first as a teaching pro and then as head pro.
He said: "I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Sweden. It was a great experience and really helped to broaden my experience. It was strange in some respects though as the winters can be quite hard and so it's difficult to play all year-round.
"We used to teach people in specially constructed Tumda tents, which were like mini-driving ranges. One of the young lads I brought through is European tour pro Jarmo Sandelin, who is actually from Finland."
Kevin and wife Jacqueline then decided to move back to the North East with their two young daughters, Samantha and Georgia.
Kevin added: "It would have been nice to stay out there in many ways but we decided it would be best to move back home because of things like schooling. It was a good decision and I really enjoyed my 15 years at Houghton. I also spent several years jointly at Cocken Lodge where I was able to concentrate on the coaching side.:
"But it was again time to move on. It's difficult to make the golf shop work these days because of the pressure of the Internet and I was also keen to get back to spending more of my time teaching.
"This is a great opportunity to do that here and I'm really looking forward to the challenges ahead."
For these reasons, Kevin has decided to do away with the shop at the driving range altogether and has converted the area into a smart café, which will serve hot and cold drinks and light meals such as soup, sandwiches, toasties and cakes.
The driving range is attached to the Mayfair venue and nightspot, which is situated on the A178 just across the road from Seaton Carew Golf Club.