Here at Great Barr Golf Club we are lucky to have great staff supporting our members and their guests to ensure their experience is always one to remember. In this blog article we thought it would only be right to showcase them to the world so we decided to sit down and have a chat with our Club’s Assistant Professional Tom Palmer to see what’s happening in his world and his thoughts around the game of golf.
Q) So Tom, when did you start playing golf?
A) I used to play football until an injury at 17 caused me to retire – my mom and dad bought me a set of golf club for Christmas so as I couldn’t play football any more, I thought I would give golf ago…and here I am!
Q) And, where did you first play golf?
A) I started to play at Boldmere with some friends and had some pretty horrendous scores in the early days. It took a while to break 100!
Q) Did you go straight into golf full time?
A) I was studying for my degree in Sports Physical Education and Coaching Science at the University of Birmingham whilst also working part time at TGI Fridays. My career plan at the time was to become a PE teacher, so the idea of a career in golf wasn’t really on the radar at that stage.
Q) So when did you decide to specialise in golf?
A) After finishing my degree I knew I would end up with a career in teaching kids something sport related! I decided to focus on golf because like most golfers, once you get the bug you can’t help falling in love with the game. It was at this point I started by PGA education to ensure I was qualified to do the job properly.
Q) How quickly did your handicap come down to scratch?
A) During my amateur status I got my handicap down to 3.2 when I was about 22 years old. Once I started on my PGA journey I had to relinquish my handicap and now play off scratch.
Q) And what year did you turn pro?
A) Took 5 years to turn pro so it was in 2014 when my status officially changed.
Q) It’s clear you are a very sporty person, what other sports have you played?
A) Until my injury I used to play Football, I also obtained my level 2 football coaching qualification. I also played both Tennis and Hockey to a county level standard, I even have my Hockey umpire qualification. I was also a good swimmer and that’s why I did my teaching qualification in that too. Other sports I have tried are boxing and table tennis, in fact there are not many sports I haven’t tried, apart from Cricket as I don’t think that’s one for me.
Q) Are you the only golfer in your family?
A) Yes – no other family members play golf which is relatively unusual, I only got into it because of the clubs my mom and dad bought me that one Christmas.
Q) Your junior academy seems to be gaining a lot of momentum, how long has that been running for now?
A) The academy at Great Barr Golf Club has been going for just over 2.5 years. I’m really proud of how the academy has grown in such a short space of time. When I first started the program we only had 8 members so I feel immensely proud that we have grown this to just over 40 kids in such a short space of time. There is no secret about it, getting kids into golf is one of the hardest challenges in golf at the moment so I’m trying my best to do my bit for the future of the game and the future of Great Barr Golf Club.
Q) What do you consider is a good age for kids to get into golf?
A) Our youngest member of the academy is 3 years old. Some kids are born in to golfing families so it doesn’t take long before a club is put into their hands. At the academy we feel 4 is probably the youngest age that kids can start to get a lot out of the game. Tiger Woods started at the age of 2 and started winning tournaments at the age of 5 against older kids – I think we can all agree that turned out to be OK in the end!
Q) You are a self-confessed gym addict – do you do any exercises purely to improve your golf?
A) No not really, through my education in sports science it is very clear to see that a healthy and flexible body makes any game more enjoyable. I think perhaps Yoga was a useful exercise when I played a lot of golf to help avoid muscles getting tight to keep my swing loose.
Q) What side projects do you have on the go?
A) I’m currently working on my YouTube channel – it’s partly for a bit of fun but also to try and spread the word about golf. YouTube simply gives me another channel to share my knowledge of the game but also to have a bit of a play with the technology.
You can find my channel here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGIKSp_q7yDe7DqFtjdwxeg/featured
Keep an eye out for some new videos coming soon. I want to try and grow my numbers of subscribers so as all the Vlogers out there say “please hit the subscribe button and like my videos!”
I recently filmed a video with fellow PGA professional Harrison Quirk from Branston Golf Club, I’ve known him since my days at Drayton. Harrison is an up and coming golfer who plays on the Alps tour so I figured he would be the perfect golfer for some of my videos. Take a look at the video “3 key points to improve your driving” as it offers some glorious views of the 13th hole at Great Barr Golf Club.
Q) What is the one tip you would give a beginner golfer?
A) It’s a scary sport to start off with because people feel nervous about making mistakes – everyone makes them even the professionals, just take a look on YouTube!
Q) And what tip would you give an experienced golfer?
A) Golf is a difficult game, the best advice I can give is to “Practice Practice Practice!”, golf relies on your muscle memory which can only happen if you practice and practice properly. To sneak a second tip in there I would also read up on the mental game of golf as this has a huge impact on your approach to the game and is a good way to see your scores start to tumble.
Q) What do you see the biggest challenges of getting women into golf?
A) Building a strong base of the lady membership is key. It’s no secret that the game is heavily male dominated, that’s why a strong core of lady members is vital because it makes the game more approachable if potential lady members know there is an active social aspect at the club. The recent work by our Lady Captain Debbie Cooper in championing the lady taster sessions which I ran has really opened up the game to people who may have never considered playing before. We are hoping some of those ladies join the club because it was clear in the short time we spent with them that there are some good golfers amongst them. Above all of this though we have to make the game fun and there is no doubt about it that the ladies membership at Great Barr really know how to enjoy themselves.
Q) What is your favourite golf course you have ever played and why?
A) The Berkshire in London, the scenery is stunning with loads of pink heather off the fairway. It’s not something you want to see close up to often, but it does make for a beautiful looking course. Its makes for a challenging round of golf which is rewarded if you keep it on the short stuff!
Q) What is the lowest score you have ever shot?
A) 5 under at Sutton Coldfield golf club, I was playing alongside Harrison Quirk (who features in one of my YouTube videos). It was one of those days where everything fell into place but the real work started on the final 6 holes, 5 of which I birded so I was a little disappointed I ran out of holes as I definitely had more birdies in me.
Q) Who is your golfing idol?
A) This maybe a little surprising but Alexander Noren. I once found myself having a putting lesson from Alexander at Stoke Park golf club just before I turned Pro. I was off a handicap of 7 at the time and the putting lesson certainly helped me reduce my handicap quickly. I like the way Alexander plays the game, he puts a huge focus on technique and in particular not turning the club over left to ensure consistent ball striking and that’s something I have since built into my game.
Q) What do you consider as being one of the greatest shots / moments in golf?
A) It has to be Tiger Woods at the masters in 2005. On the 16th hole he had hit his tee shot long, Tiger made a chip that us mere mortals can only dream of. It was almost like it was scripted the way the ball came to a temporary stop just over the hole and then with the will of the crowd behind it the ball dropped into the hole. An impossible shot made possible.
Q) So what clubs are currently in the bag?
Srixon Z785 driver
Srixon F85 3 wood
Ping i500 irons 3-pw
Ping glide forged irons 48, 54 and 60
Spider X putter
We thank Tom for his valuable time in sitting down with us and we hope you enjoyed reading about our amazing Assistant Professional.