It wasn’t until Aaron Cox became the PGA’s Head Professional at Caboolture Golf Club at age 26 that he discovered the joys of coaching.
An alumnus of Kelvin Grove State College in Brisbane who occasionally crossed paths with a Beaudesert child two years his junior named Jason Day, Cox harbored the dreams of many junior golfers showing skill at a young age.
Yet his golfing success would come later, halfway around the world developing a junior program that is now the envy of all of England.
Cox was named Attendance and Development Coach of the Year at the 2022 England Golf Awards in April in recognition of the establishment and thriving junior development program at Blackwell Grange Golf Club in the north of England.
When he applied and accepted the position in January 2019, it was to work 20 hours in the store serving the 750 members; how he filled the rest of his teaching week was entirely up to Cox.
With only two juniors currently committed to the club and having spent the last 12 months running 15 junior lessons a week at Golf World Stansted, Cox invested his time and energy in building what was at the time a non-existent junior base. .
He offered free four-week programs and emailed, called and visited local schools to introduce children to the game.
Of the 45 in his first admission, 38 went on to the program. Those numbers doubled with the second bid and within four months the club’s base of six juniors had grown to 120.
He has since developed a seven-level junior development book, with a unique Australian twist.
“Each level was a color but also an Australian animal,” says Cox.
“Here, it works like a good little joke. Level one koala. Then you move on to the wombat. Then I added Tiger for Tiger Woods. And then the shark for the Great White Shark, my hero, my idol, Greg Norman.
“My philosophy with junior coaches is to create a process and a discipline that they follow. I teach GASPTTR and I have six-year-olds who know what those letters mean. These are the main structures of my discipline: G for grip, A for aim, S for stance, P for stance, T for triangle, T for takeaway, then R for spin. They learn these words and what these words mean. I then use these seven letters as the basis of all of their golf game.
Yet as a trainee at Phillip Island Golf Club under Marcus Liberman who would qualify twice for the Australian Open on Monday, coaching was initially a daunting proposition.
“Oddly enough, throughout my internship, I was afraid of coaching,” admits Cox, who coached rising amateur judge Bosio during her formative years at Caboolture.
“I went to the Q School and spent 12 months on the Australasian Tour in 2011 and realized quite quickly that I was absolutely nowhere near good enough to tour.
“In 2012, I got the position of Chief Professional at Caboolture and that’s when I started to have confidence in myself to teach. It took me almost four years to have 100% confidence in my teaching abilities and the information I was giving.
“And the rest, as they say, is history.”
Cox’s impact at Blackwell Grange extends far beyond engaging juniors with fun lessons that develop their core skills.
With the club’s support, it has converted a spare fairway into a six-hole junior course – with flags and signage provided by a local sponsor – and runs junior tournaments in line with top pro golf events.
Starting with the Players Tournament in March, the series of eight two-round tournaments for kids aged 5-12 includes the Masters in April, the Blackwell Grange Classic in May, the Tour Championship in June and the biggest, the Junior Academy Open. Championship in July, complete with its own burgundy jug.
More recently, Cox established the ACED (Aaron Cox Elite Development) Academy and guides teenage golf enthusiasts on the same path he traveled thousands of miles in Australia.
“What’s fun for me is that I now have a junior section at my golf club and I become the mentor for kids who are also looking to become PGA professionals.”
• There are many career avenues available within the golf industry. To find your path to becoming a PGA Professional, visit pga.org.au/education