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Junior Golf Coach Q&A – Michelle Holmes

This week’s Junior Golf Coach Q&A features one of the world’s most recognised junior golf coaches, Michelle Holmes.

Michelle is a recognised US Kids Golf Master Coach and graduated with a degree in Sports Management.  Having moved to the US from her native Ireland, Michelle, opened the Michelle Holmes School of Golf in 2011.  Entering its 10th Anniversary, the school has grown from strength to strength.

Naturally, were keen to learn more about Michelle’s story, as well getting some insight into her approach, influences and some tips for juniors and parents to aid their own golfing journeys.

Michelle, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us for our Q&A.

Tell us about yourself and your golf program…
I grew up in Ireland.  After a pretty successful junior golf career, I got a sports scholarship to play college golf in America.  After graduating from Campbell University, I moved to Norfolk Virginia, where I now live and opened my kids golf academy.

The academy has grown from one location to three locations and we have a 100% student base of junior golfers.  We have everything from, kids that come in and use golf as an extracurricular activity, to kids who have dreams of college golf or beyond.

How did you first get into golf?
My Dad introduced me to the game at 10 years old and I just fell in love with it.

What’s your first golfing memory?
My Dad took me to the local driving range where they had some fun junior golf contests.  The prize was movie theatre tickets.  I won the tickets and was allowed bring my friend to the movies the following day!  That was motivation enough for me to go back every Friday!

What advice would you give to parents whose children have shown an interest in golf?
Firstly, your number one priority is to give your child an experience worth falling in love with!  Keep it FUN!  When they love it, they will work for it!  Then the possibilities become endless!

Secondly, give your child the right equipment.  Too many children use clubs that are too long, too stiff and too heavy.  It is very important that your child is fitted for the correct set of clubs.  When a child plays with clubs that fit, he or she is able to develop consistent swings that will stay with him or her forever.  U.S. Kids Golf offers a variety of clubs in different weights and lengths specific to the child being measured. Always remember that a child should grow out of their golf clubs, not into them.  Always remember that a child should grow out of their golf clubs, not into them.

Finally, find the right junior golf program, with a coach that the child is drawn to.  The program should offer a good balance of competition and fun.

“I think for me, the best part is taking families on a journey.  It’s seeing a family grow together…”

You’ve been recognised as a US Kids Top 50 coach for many years.  Who has influenced you as a coach the most and what do you put this recognition down to?
I pretty much always knew I was going to go into the coaching world.  I had an amazing junior golf coach, Charlie McGoldrick, who has since passed.  Looking back, even at a young age, I kind of saw what an impact he had on people’s lives.  I think I just always knew I wanted to do that.  A defining moment for me is when I was about 13 or 14 years old and I was playing in a club competition.  I remember standing on the ninth tee box and one of the lady members said to me, “hey, do you want to play on the LPGA Tour when you grow up?” And I remember saying, “no, I want to do what Charlie does.”  So I think he always had a huge impact in my life.  I just think that he was the first person that made me realize that what we do as coaches really matters and it really does help change and impact lives.

You’ve coached many players who have competed at the US Kids World Championships.  How do you prepare kids from playing recreationally to competitively?
The biggest changes that happen when kids want to move from recreational golfers to competitive golfers are:

1. Goal setting and time management and
2. Teaching kids how to practice effectively, with a strong emphasis on performance practice.

“The mission of MHSG is to create experiences that will encourage kids to play the game forever.” 

Following the latest UK national lockdown, how would you encourage kids and parents to continue with golf at home?
I think most coaches are doing a great job of staying interactive with parents and students right now.

Coaches are using platforms like Instagram and Facebook to share at home drills and games with not only their own students but juniors all over the world.  Be sure you are taking advantage of this wonderful information!

Kids are so creative.  Let them make up their own games and practices.  You will be surprised at what they will come up with.  This will also give them a sense of ownership and they will be more likely to stick with at home practices.

In the UK, golf isn’t generally introduced in schools until later years meaning kids may not experience golf until their teens.  How does this compare to golf in US schools?

I do think kids have more opportunities here. Golf is in most primary schools and kids seem to be able to join clubs more younger over here.

What action would you like to see in UK schools to introduce kids to golf at a younger age?
Golf can be introduced in many ways.  It doesn’t need to be intense training at a golf course.  It just needs to be fun!  Simply getting a putter and tennis balls in your classroom can open the door for a young child to be exposed to golf.  PE classes are probably the best place to start.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
Well, I always say that I’ve never woken up and said, “Oh my god, I have to go to work.”  Never once have I had that feeling.  I think for me, the best part is taking families on a journey.  It’s seeing a family grow together, especially when I’m dealing with the competitive golfer.  It is a roller coaster of a journey and I love helping the kids and parents navigate through that.

Who is your dream four-ball?

My Grandad (Pat Holmes), my Dad (Anthony Holmes), my Niece Katie Landon and myself!

I’ve always been a huge Ernie Els fan so I wouldn’t be opposed to him making it a fiveball!

What course would you love to play most that you’ve yet to play?
I really want to play Old Head Golf Links.  I have heard amazing things about the new holes at Carne Golf Links, so I hope to play that one soon too!

Favourite place in the world to play golf?
It has to be Ireland 🍀

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us Michelle.  It’s great to hear your story and the success of the MHSG.  We look forward to seeing continued success of your school and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

How to find Michelle…

The Michelle Holmes School of Golf (MHSG) is now based in 3 locations… 
Lambert’s Point Golf Club (Norfolk) 
Greenbrier Country Club (Chesapeake)
Kempsville Greens Golf Club (Virginia Beach) 

To learn more about MHSG you can find her here:

http://www.michelleholmesgolf.com/ 
Instgram – @michelleholmesgolf
Facebook – @michelleholmesschoolofgolf
Twitter – @mholmesgolf

 

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