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Darren first picked up a golf club at the age of 16 after seeing a flyer for the Supreme Golf at Exmouth – they were looking for apprentices. He was interviewed by co-owner, Rick Pillow, who is also a golf member of Exeter Golf and Country Club, and Devon Seniors Golf Captain. His passion for sport got him the job and his career in golf took off.
In the 29 years since, Darren’s resume is pretty impressive, having experienced professional golf across the region in many facets, including the following:
Darren describes his transition into his new role as Director of Golf.
“Having just started the role I haven’t quite identified yet a typical working day. I am currently trying to gauge where my time is to be divided between the Pro Shop and the Golf Office, hopefully I will be able to settle into a routine after a few more weeks. Without doubt my first port of call each day is emails. It can be a simple competition query, or it could be a membership enquiry. No matter what the request, I aim to respond as quickly as possible. There are also a lot of meetings to organise at present, with captains and committees to try and outline a working relationship going forward. Once things settle down I can structure my working week to provide the best service for members.”
Darren is very aware of the unpredictable aspects to the job and recalls getting a phone call from the course and chasing kids off the 15th fairway who had decided to set up and have a game of early evening football!
Darren said, “Chasing kids, climbing fences and shinning up trees is definitely beyond the written roles and responsibilities of the job – so a good sense of humour is essential! I feel proud and privileged to be part of the continued success of this golf club, which without doubt is one of the most prestigious golfing venues in the South West.
When I arrived, the club was embarking upon course changes, which I can only say has greatly improved the golfing experience and members and visitors alike are constantly reminding me of this. I am excited about the on-going course changes and the impending opening of our new practice facility in Topsham Road”.
Darren and his team recently celebrated two successful golf competitions – the Ladies’ and Mens’ Pros’ Day in July.
“We had an unbelievable week! The ladies absolutely loved their first ever Pros’ Day and have demanded that it goes in the diary every year. The day was full of laughs and the presentation was one of the most fun times I have had in my time here! The Mens’ Pros’ Day was, as always, a brilliant day. 208 players supported the event and despite a gusting wind the scoring was amazing! Thank you to all those players who supported the events. To have almost 300 members play across the two days and support us, is staggering and something myself and my team are extremely grateful for.
“From day one members of Exeter Golf and Country Club have been first-class in supporting both myself and my team. We are now moving into a new dynamic as a team and we are excited about helping to enhance the member experience here at the club”.
Chris was introduced to golf at the age of 13 through family members at the local pitch and putt centre. He was hooked from that moment; visiting the driving range and spending every bit of time he could swinging a golf club.
He joined Hele Park Golf Centre shortly after and achieved his first handicap of 19. Chris then started playing in as many competitions as possible. As his golf developed, Chris went on to represent the county in both the Junior and Men’s squads in various tournaments.
Chris also played for South Devon College whilst attaining my BTec National Diploma. At the age of 17, he shot the course record of 61 with a handicap of 4.
His professional journey got underway with the PGA Foundation Degree with Darren at Teign Valley and he has just finished his final year.
Chris said, “Darren has been an excellent mentor and supported me throughout the process. I have a great interest for coaching and fitting, being able to pass on my knowledge to others as a PGA Professional. I love engaging with the members and enjoy my time working and meeting people in the shop.”
Tom’s golfing career started as a mere 3 year old boy, when, with a cut down wooden 4 wood, his Dad took him on the 9 hole course at Burnham and Berrow.
He was hooked and when they moved to Devon a few years later, he joined the Acorns Course at Woodbury Park before moving onto the Oaks. Having spent his junior days there, including bring captain of the Devon County Boy’s Squad in 2009 and 2010, he was delighted to become a professional in 2014 off a handicap of 2 and embarked on his PGA training. In the meantime, Tom represented the Men’s County Squad, and was a regular in the University of Birmingham 1st team (captain in 2013) while studying for a degree in Sport and Exercise Science.
To date, Tom has recorded over half a dozen Professional wins on the circuit, including winning the West Region Under 30’s Order of Merit in 2017.
Tom became a fully qualified PGA Professional in July 2016 and joined the Exeter Golf and Country Club Pro Team in March 2017.
He said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Pro team here at Exeter. I have a real passion for coaching and fittings, as well as playing myself and aiding player’s game development, through various coaching methods that I have learnt in my studies over the years. My philosophy is to keep the game as simple, and most importantly as fun as possible!”
Ryan started golf at the age of 8 with his dad at Exeter Golf and Country Club. His first real passion in life was football, however this was quickly overtaken by golf.
During his amateur career, Ryan represented Devon from under 14’s through to the Devon Men’s first team. At the age of 16, he moved to Hartpury College in Gloucestershire to further his golf education. During this time, Ryan became the British College Champion, both individually and with the team.
Ryan went on to win the Devon Amateur Championships and the South West Boys Four Counties Championships in this period. After Hartpury, he moved to America and received a golf scholarship at the University of South Alabama, where he gained a degree in Business Administration.
Ryan turned professional in February 2017, then joined the Pro Team at Exeter in September, when he started working towards his PGA qualifications.
Ryan said, “I have really enjoyed my first 10 months here at Exeter Golf and Country Club as a professional. The interaction with the members and the feeling of helping people with there golf performance is very fulfilling. Whilst I really enjoy coaching and improving people’s games, I still have a real hunger to compete and improve my own golf at the same time.”
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