Richard James started golfing when he was 11.

He has spent over 20 years playing the game and turning it into a career as a professional player playing in competitions such as the PGA EuroPro Tour, a tour that has played a vital role in the early careers of some of the biggest names in the sport.

During the 2016 tour, he won the Lookers Championship at Close House in Newcastle.

It was part of a successful season in which he also placed in the top three at the Matchroom Sport Tour Championship in Desert Springs, Spain and the Clipper Logistics Championship Pro-Am at Moor Allerton, Blackmoor on his way to finishing fourth at the end of the season.

But just two years later, he decided to take a break after feeling he was playing for the wrong reasons.

“I’ve played golf forever, it was something I loved playing,” he said.

“But during the 2018 season, I realised I was playing for the wrong reasons – I wasn’t enjoying the game. I was playing to make a livelihood.

“I took some time away to find my purpose and what I wanted to do. That’s when I decided to start coaching, I knew I would find it satisfying to help golfers improve.”

Three years later, Richard, who is now a qualified PGA professional coach, began teaching the game he loves.

Richard James Penrhos Golf
Richard James shows off the required technique during a day at Penrhos Golf Club in Llanrhystud (Cambrian News)

According to the former PGA tourer, golf is a game of technicality, and the key to it lies in the fundamentals – grip, stance and how the golf club contacts the ball.

Richard said: “The grip on the club is really important, it is the only point of contact between the player, club and the ball.”

He learned the importance of grip the hard way. When he first started playing competitively, he played with a ‘cross-handed’ grip, which gave his left hand dominant control over his right.

Although he was able to rise through the ranks in competitions, he was told by his coach that in order to progress he would need to change.

“He said ‘if you don’t change your grip now, you’ll hit a wall’,” Richard explained.

After years of playing cross-handed, the change wasn’t easy.

“It was like I’d never held a club before,” he said.

How you position yourself when taking a shot, is what makes your shot accurate.

Using a tennis racket to represent angles, Richard explained that as a golfer swings, their arms – and the club – travel along different angles.

The angle that the club hits the ball decides where the ball will go, when the club passes in between the feet, it hits the ball straight.

But to make it go truly straight, you need to be pinpoint accurate with your swing, even a single degree to the left or the right will cause the ball to curve.

“It comes down to a single degree,” Richard explained.

“When you’re swinging at 120mph, a degree can make a big difference.”

When it comes to how the club hits the ball, it is important that you hit it with the ‘sweet spot’, he said.

Similarly to hitting the ball at the wrong angle in a swing, hitting the ball with the wrong part of the club makes it swerve, go too high or too low, or barely makes it move at all.

The way to tell if you’re hitting the ball in the sweet spot, according to Richard, is by paying attention to how the club vibrates after it hits the ball.

“You know you’ve hit the sweet spot when there’s a softness to the vibration,” he said.

If you’d like to try your hand at golf lessons, you can book an hour or half-hour session with Richard and other coaches at Penrhos.