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Level Par programme coach, Tara Gribben is living the dream

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For PGA Professional Tara Gribben, sport is everything. Her passion, particularly for golf, has grown from the experiences and opportunities it has presented her.

Hailing from Warrenpoint in Co. Down, Gribben’s family played a big part in her first picking up a club and she now aims to give something back to golfers, new and established.

What is your first memory of sport?

I was really interested in sport throughout my childhood, I played Gaelic football to a high level for my school and county but golf always came first. I ended up with a few bad injuries on the Gaelic pitch and decided to dedicate my focus on golf.

Tell us about your journey in golf to date:

I always remember my Dad, a Professional Golfer, getting me a little set of plastic golf clubs when I was around 5 or 6 years old and I would go out to the back garden to try copy what he was doing. I remember I used to sit and watch Dad and my cousin Colm [Campbell] from the window heading to the golf club. I always wanted to go with them. From a very young age I showed a lot of passion for the game.

I started playing competitively at 13 years old in ILGU Championships. I played for Ulster at U15 and U18 levels and I represented Ireland at U16, U19 and U21 level. I always had a lot of coaching and support from various people throughout which helped massively.

My Granda, who recently passed away, was my main supporter. He took me everywhere when I was starting to compete from a young age right until my last competitive golf tournament as an amateur. The love he had for golf and the enjoyment he got from taking me everywhere was special for me. He encouraged me each and every day.

I then went to University, where I played the BUCS Tournaments and also represented Ireland at the Student Games in the Czech Republic.

Along the way I won various girls’ and women’s Championships and was part of plenty of winning teams. I always loved team golf. It was a great way to be part of something, to try to achieve results for you and your teammates, building bonds and friendships along the way.

What are your hopes for the Level Par coaching programme?

This is my first year in the PGA and Level Par has been a massive help in my progress so far. It’s extremely interesting and a great focus for my own personal development as a PGA Professional.

My main hopes are to have a clearer understanding of coaching and to receive help and support on my own learning abilities. With a range of top-class industry leaders helping and supporting us throughout this programme, I believe the rewards at the end will be brilliant.

Our main focus as Level Par Coaches is to help develop and increase participation in female sport. It will also help with our own independence as coaches while also being there to support each other as a group.

Who was your role model growing up? Who do you look up to now?

My role model growing up was my Dad, as a Professional Golfer I was always seeing him play golf. I certainly looked up to him. He coached me, supported me and developed me through my playing career. When he played Walker Cup in 1999, I thought this was amazing. I was eight at the time and seeing my dad play with the likes of Luke Donald and Paul Casey is a great memory we have.

I always loved Tiger Woods and still do to this day, I would class him as my sporting idol. He is someone who shows so much passion and love for the game of golf, he has achieved so much and still works hard for more.

Suzann Pettersen is my female golfing idol, I love watching her play. I love how passionate she is, especially at the Solheim Cup. She is a player who never ever gives up and is a true ambassador to the game.

Three learnings you have taken from the Level Par programme to date:

  • There are differences when working with juniors compared to a high performance athlete or team – it is important to identify the physical and emotional differences when developing young athletes.
  • Level Par has allowed me to develop my coaching knowledge and abilities. It has also made me identify my weaknesses so I can pinpoint and develop them.
  • How important it is to build my awareness of women and girls participation in golf. We have been tasked to come up with initiatives to help develop this for the future.

What advice would you give to young boys or girls who are considering a) playing golf, b) coaching golf?

Firstly, stick with it. Golf really was the best thing to ever happen me from a young age. It is such an amazing sport and you will meet some of the best friends you could ask for. It will give you so many brilliant experiences and it really is such a fun an enjoyable sport.

I am currently in my first year of my PGA course and truthfully, I am enjoying it so much already. There are so many opportunities in golf coaching. You could travel the world with it if you wanted. I believe coaching is definitely the way forward for me, there is no better feeling than helping a student in the sport that you love and show passion in.

Do you have a favourite quote?

‘No matter how good you get, you can always get better and that’s the exciting part’

A podcast/book recommendation:

‘Golf is not a game of Perfect’ – Dr Bob Rotella

‘The Big Miss – My Years Coaching Tiger Woods’ – Hank Haney

‘Every Shot Must Have a Purpose’ – Pia Nilsson / Annika Sorenstam

If you could wave a magic wand, what one thing (if anything) would you change about golf?

There wouldn’t be a lot that I would change. We are all trying to increase women’s participation and involvement in the sport worldwide. I would maybe change some of the male/female only courses to have everywhere mixed and keeping it a fair sport all round.

I would also wave a magic wand and someday play golf with Tiger Woods but that’s me dreaming!

Anything else you would like to share?

I would like to thank the CGI and everyone involved in the creation of the Level Par programme. It really is an absolutely brilliant initiative for us as female coaches. Throughout my own golfing career, the help and support received from the coaches and managers was always first class and now I can be part of safeguarding the future of golf through a career I always dreamt of having.

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