Kyle’s golfing travels have taken him across the world and to the Olympics
PUBLISHED: 10:53 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:58 20 May 2020
We continue our series of looking at some of the members at Axe Cliff Golf Club and this week the spotlight falls on Kyle Phillpots.
Like most boys, my first love was football, but I was not good enough to make a living from it. So, following the old adage ‘those who can do; those who can’t teach’, I went to Carnegie College of Physical Education in Leeds and qualified as a PE teacher.
I played for the football team at College, and in my final year, one of my friends suggested I should give rugby a go.
I went to train at Headingley in Leeds, a top club at the time. I had some pace, but little experience, so I was put on the wing in the fifth team to learn the ropes.
I loved it and ended the season in the second XV. That was it, I was a rugby player and that change of code eventually lead me to a career in golf.
After graduating, I took a PE job in Ferndown, Dorset and played rugby for Wimborne for four years.
I then became a lecturer in the Midlands and continued my rugby career, playing for Birmingham, Moseley and Camp Hill.
Once the pace left me, I converted to a back-row player. Still playing in my early forties, I ruptured my patella tendon and had to spend three months rehabilitating. Constrained to the sofa and flicking through a magazine, I saw an advert for a training manager at The PGA, based at The Belfry and decided to apply.
I had only hacked around a golf course half a dozen times in my life, but they already had plenty of people who knew golf, what they were looking for was someone with more of a background in sports education.
Prior to applying, I had assumed that club professionals were just failed players who had drifted into the job.
In fact, The PGA had been running a three-year training programme to qualify professionals since 1961, with an annual intake of around 300 students.
My role was to modernise the entire education system, which I achieved and went on to become the Executive Director of Education & Global Development.
This involved extensive travel overseas and a role with the International Golf Federation (IGF).
The different golf bodies and PGAs from around the world meet regularly and these meetings are generally based around the major championships. For the last fifteen years or so, I attended most of these championships and saw up close many of the great golf courses around the World.
When golf came back into the Olympics in 2012, I set up the international coaching framework for golf and became team leader for the British Golf Team and set up the infrastructure.
Golf’s first event was at the Olympic Youth Festival in Sydney and I led a mixed team of Under-18s.
We won two gold and two silver medals. A number of those players are now on professional tours, including Georgia Hall from Ferndown who won the 2018 British Open.
I started my working life in the South West and always wanted to return. Early retirement from The PGA in 2017 gave me that opportunity and I relocated to Seaton. I needed a new golf club to join and had heard that my local club was a James Braid design. Braid, Varden and Taylor, who were known as the ‘Great Triumvirate’, dominated golf at the turn of the 20th Century, and founded the PGA in 1901.
With that connection, I gave Axe Cliff a try and have to say that I loved it from the very start! Fantastic views, a course that has plenty of room to play, but also provides exciting challenges and a friendly, welcoming group of players and staff.
I joined straight away and have thoroughly enjoyed being a member of a club that you can play all year round…which really does provide excellent value for money. I have been fortunate to play many great courses around the world, but I am happy that Axe Cliff is the golf course I now call my home club.
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