Clitheroe Golf Club's Performance Academy: From working with Tiger Woods to nurturing the next generation of Lancastrian golfers
When it comes to CVs, they don't get much better than Wayne Johnson's.
The new Director of Golf at Clitheroe Golf Club, Wayne's career in the sport spans more than three decades and you may just have heard of some of the people he's worked with. After all, the names Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, and Darren Clarke - all of whom Wayne encountered whilst working at Butch Harmon's golf schools in the USA and Bahamas - tend to ring bells.
Prior to working with internationally-renowned coach and commentator Harmon, Wayne worked at the prestigious Wisley Golf Club in London, the Pinheiros Altos Golf Course in Portugal, and Zell-am-See in Austria. He also helped establish the Ernie Els Golf Academy in Vietnam, has written for Golf Digest, and coached of the United Arab Emirates golf team
As we've established, it's a pretty impressive CV. But the only thing on Wayne's mind at the minute is heading up Clitheroe Golf Club's new, state-of-the-art Performance Golf Academy which launched last month. Bringing a dash of 21st century tech to the 130-year-old club, the purpose-built academy caters for all abilities year-round using the latest cutting-edge facilities.
"What attracted me to the opportunity at the club was the vision of developing this state-of-the-art golf academy," explains Wayne, 60, who was also part of the team which created the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. "That's where my background lies, so it was a great chance to really develop the grassroots game and the performance standards at Clitheroe Golf Club and across the region.
"The new board have a strong vision of raising standards and developing a centre of excellence," he adds. "I've been working overseas for many years but, when Covid kicked in, I came home because everything was shutting down and my folks are quite elderly so I wanted to be close to them, so it's really exciting to be a part of what's happening at the club."
With the academy nestled in the bucolic East Lancastrian countryside, Wayne has assembled a team of experienced PGA coaches including head pro Sam Punchard, who was born and raised in Clitheroe and went on to work at Towneley, Nelson, Whitefield, and Burnley Golf Clubs before joining Clitheroe earlier this year, and assistant pro Sam Geddes, who has been playing since the age of three and recently worked at the BMW PGA and Dunhill Links Championships and the Turkish Airlines Open.
From swing fundamentals, bunker play, and short game technique to putting, course management, and shot strategy, the academy allows golfers the chance to work on every aspect of their game.
Amongst the academy’s offerings is tailored one-to-one coaching, monthly golf clinics, a custom club-fitting experience, and even a young athlete foundation programme for budding players across the region.
"We've got a practise fairway, a short-game area and putt lab, and the swing studio with video analysis, which is has state-of-the-art cameras and launch monitors - all the ingredients you need to develop athletes," says Wayne. "We're also looking at partnering with a local strength and conditioning coach who can add that aspect as well and make everything holistic.
"We're also trying to build a grassroots programme with our juniors as well as things like ladies' golf and what we call the Girls' Golf Rocks programme, which is developed with England Golf to get female players coming through," adds Wayne, who grew up in Windermere in the Lake District. "It's a really exciting time for members and visitors.
"People are seeing what a great facility it is to help people build and develop their golf game."