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A driving ambition to bring the game of golf to everyone

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

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ROB Grier says he can teach anyone to play golf.

In his career as a PGA pro, coach and instructor he says he's never yet met a hopeless case.

He should know. He has been immersed in the golf world since the age of nine and coaches two young talents on the European circuit.

So anyone who fancies themselves as a would-be Jack Nicholas might do well to pick up some tips.

"Not everyone is going to be Tiger Woods," laughs Rob, as we chat at the golf range he runs at Cold Norton, near Stone.

"But I've never been beaten by any pupil. Not once have I had to say to someone that golf isn't for them.

"I have taught people of all ages, men and women, and have got them playing at some level. That's the great thing about golf. At any level someone can play it and enjoy it."

Indeed Rob is passionate about the sport and regularly goes into schools around Stone and beyond to try and encourage youngsters to get involved.

As a coach he runs sessions during school PE lessons and has also organised summer camps.

It has proved to be quite a success. It's not always easy though, he is the first to admit.

"As a sport you're always competing against football to get the kids interested," he explains. "And the weather has really been against us this year.

"But it's a great sport and especially after the success of the Olympics we want to keep encouraging young people to get involved."

Rob himself was born in Birmingham.

The family moved to Shropshire when he was 11. By then Rob had got into golf. He had always been a keen sportsman, playing rugby and other team sports but there was something about golf that excited him.

It was a friend's parent who suggested the idea and he booked the youngster a lesson.

Rob played junior golf throughout his school days but it was when he was 20 that he started to take it more seriously.

"I was doing an engineering apprenticeship and never really thought I was good enough to make a career out of golf," he says.

"A friend said I was good enough and to be quite honest the thought of being able to play golf for a living was much more appealing than engineering.

"I quit that and started golf. I qualified in 1997 as a pro."

He competed at a national level with the PGA as a club professional but saw his niche more on the coaching side.

He worked in Stratford, then became a director of golf at Stonebridge Golf Centre, which meant he was in charge of everything to do with golf, from course maintenance to looking after the shop.

From there he went to the Shropshire Golf Centre as it was closer to his home in Cleobury Mortimer.

It was during his time there that he started developing the coaching side of his work.

"I started teaching better players and I still coach a couple of them now," he says.

"One of them is James Busby, a professional based in Shropshire. He has done well on a number of tours and I also work with Rachel Jennings, who is a professional on the ladies European tour."

Rob discovered a love of teaching the sport and realised that long-term this was what he wanted to do.

In the meantime he continued to work at various golf clubs around the area, including Izaak Walton, near Stone.

It was also his dream to own his own golfing facility but was never sure it would be possible until an approach out of the blue.

"I was contacted by some fellow professionals about developing a golf range here in Stone. They asked if I wanted to become a partner and I jumped at the chance.

"Suddenly there was an opportunity to become my own boss. That's one of the things I love about it. I don't have to ask anyone if I have an idea for something I want to do. I can just do it."

Rob's aim was to create something a little bit different to the traditional driving range.

The site has the feel of a golf club rather than a driving range and houses a large shop, selling everything for the discerning golfer. They use the technology to provide customer fit golf clubs, which uses the latest techniques to create the clubs to match the swing of the golfer. It is the kind of hi-tech stuff used by all the top professionals, including Tiger Woods.

And of course Rob also provides junior coaching and lessons, which he is exceptionally proud of.

"I'm a much better coach than a player. I love playing socially and I've worked on my game hard over the years. But I love the teaching side,” he says.

"I would say to anyone who has never played just to have a go. Have a lesson and see how you get on. You might decide it's not for you but on the other hand you might be surprised. In golf you can unleash potential quite quickly.

"One of the good things is that there is a lot of focus on fitness now. You can walk four miles during the average game and hit 100 golf shots so you need to be physically fit. The more fit you are the better you will play. People are starting to recognise that now."

Rob is married to childhood sweetheart Vanessa. They met at school and have been together ever since.

The couple have two daughters Grace, 17, and Emily 14, neither of who are into golf, however.

When he's not playing golf Rob likes to climb mountains. Snowdon has been one of the peaks he has conquered.

For now Rob is working hard to make the business a major success, but he still has a few more ambitions he’s like to fulfil.

“I’ve got a wish list of golf courses I’d like to play on,” he laughs.

“I've played on a lot of courses, some of the most famous ones. My favourite one so far has been Turnberry in Scotland. I went there this year and really enjoyed it.

“The one I’d most like to play on is Pebble Beach in the USA. It’s been named as the greatest public golf course in America and has hosted the US Open. Maybe that will be next.”

Name: Rob Grier

Age: 43

Occupation: Professional golfer

Car: Aston Martin Vanquish

Music: Coldplay

Hobbies: Golf and mountaineering

Paper: The Times

Holiday Destination: America

Food & Drink: Italian & red wine

Book: Biographies

Pin-up: Kate Beckinsale

Love/Hate: My kids and wife, dogs, golf and being outside/Bad manners, bullying and rain

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