THE men whose job it is to unravel the mysteries of hitting a golf ball in the direction you desire are the gurus of the sport.

There is no other game where so many rely on so few, and Ribble Valley-based Damian Taylor, the son of 1985 world snooker champion and BBC commentator Dennis Taylor, has emerged as one of the most dynamic and successful coaches in golf today.

His famous students have included British Open Championship winner Darren Clarke, and former Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Ian Woosnam.

“When I was growing up in Blackburn, I just wanted to be a top player – I never dreamed that I’d coach at the highest level,” said the former Whalley Oakhill College student.

Taylor was always surrounded by sport.

The family home was a sand wedge chip away from Blackburn Golf Club, and while he played the pro circuit for a while he recalls that he was always to be found with his nose in a golf instruction book, learning about the game.

“The eighteenth green was forty yards from our back door. I’d come in from school, throw my bag down, and I’d be on there until it went dark.

“I never did my homework much. It was practice, play, practice, play.

“The professional at Blackburn, the late Gerry Bond, was a fantastic character and the one who really got me going.

“I remember I had some half-size clubs in a little pencil shaped bag.

“I loved all sport, and obviously with dad playing professional snooker I was always on the table.

“I was doing breaks of 90 when I was 12. I enjoyed football too and turned out for Blackburn Boys.

“But golf was the overwhelming passion though and even then I was always more interested in the technique of the game.”

When Taylor turned to full-time coaching, he was recruited by David Leadbetter, arguably the greatest coach of all, to run the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Singapore.

There he worked alongside the golf guru, developing the games of US Open champion Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and South African legend Ernie Els.

His growing reputation was further consolidated when he was also appointed as coach for the Singapore national golf team.

He said: “Today’s players are surrounded by all sorts of people, a caddie, a sporting psychologist, and sometimes several coaches, and I think that nowadays that golf is much more than a game.

“When you coach, you need that special patience and instinct to adapt to a players’ personality and while your job is to improve their technique, there’s much more to it than that.

“You eat with them, be in the gymnasium, or on the putting green and driving range for many hours.

“Crucially, you also have to offer that reassurance too.

“If a golf coach has nothing to say to his client, then that’s a good thing.”

Back in England, he was invited by Lancashire star and former QEGS pupil Nick Dougherty to become his full-time coach.

Taylor coached Dougherty to three wins on the European Tour, including the 2009 BMW International Open, the most successful spell in Dougherty’s career.

After several years in the top 50, though Dougherty lost his European Tour Card and his game disintegrated.

“I worked with Nick for four years and he was always in the top 30 – he never came close to losing his card in that time,” added Taylor.

“What has happened to him is unthinkable really from where he was five years ago.

“You hit all these good shots and you don’t really give yourself any praise for that and as soon as you hit one bad shot you beat yourself up.

“I think that’s happened with Nick. He’s had a few bad rounds and he’s got some baggage but, once he gets rid of that, he’ll start to remember the good times again and get back playing well.

“I still believe I could get him back. I’d love the chance to work with him again, and get another crack at it.

“But irrespective of who he’s working with, I just hope his form returns and Nick starts to get back into the winning circle again.

“He’s a super kid and a Lancashire lad and I hope it works out.”

Taylor was guiding Dougherty when he finished seventh in the 2007 US Open - and in the third round he was paired with Tiger Woods.

“Tiger’s round that day was the best I’ve ever seen,” said Taylor.

“His control over the ball, and the trajectory of his shots was breathtaking.

“For pure consistency over 18 holes that was probably Tiger Woods in his absolute prime.”

The financial rewards are massive for the senior players. Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, the first European to win the FedEx Cup, walked away from last month’s tournament in America with an extraordinary pay day of $11.4 million.

“Henrik had fallen outside the top 200 at the start last year, so it shows that you can always come back and that sort of money is life changing.

“The top guys just want to win trophies. If you asked Tiger Woods how much he had earned in his career he probably wouldn’t have a clue.

“But he would definitely be able to tell you how many titles he has won.

“Golf can be a lonely sport, but it is an incredible one.”

* Damian Taylor is available for lessons at Lee Valley, Rishton, Blackburn and Mottram Hall, Manchester. For details e-mail: or visit his website at