Sarah Bennett

Sarah Bennett: PGA Head Teaching Professional at Three Rivers Golf and Country Club

  • Sarah uses her own health scare to inspire and motivate wounded, injured and sick service personnel

Sarah Bennett is a PGA Head Teaching Professional at Three Rivers Golf and Country Club, near Purleigh in Essex. She has suffered hardships that would have broken many people but has managed to turn those testing times into good times having recovered from a neurological condition.

Sarah spent two decades as a professional golfer on the Ladies European Tour before being struck down with a viral infection that changed the course of her life. Her eventual transition from player to coach, which had seemed inevitable before her impromptu retirement, became almost inconceivable when she was told by doctors she would never play golf again. A chronic viral infection attacked Sarah’s inner ear canal, a condition known as vestibular neuritis. In normal cases, the nerve becomes inflamed and produces vertigo-type symptoms. In Sarah’s case, her nerve was completely destroyed by the infection.

The road back to a healthy life led her to the doors of the various British Army Recovery Centres where, by working with wounded service personnel, the rewards of remaining positive in the face of adversity began to emerge. Sarah wanted to use her experience to help others and entered into dialogue with the Recovery Centres, explaining how she wanted to use golf to assist the rehabilitation of wounded service personnel and veterans. She has also assisted those with strokes.

Despite having her career sabotaged by illness, Sarah does not look back in anger. In fact, she describes what she went through as a ‘blessing in disguise in many ways’. ‘It gave me the nudge to offer my experience and then set up the now annual Golf Fore Recovery national event,’ she says.

Sarah was recently involved with the inaugural programme run by , bringing female coaches together, which she described as ‘a tremendous experience’. And she was recently awarded an upgrade to Fellow status on her current membership level by the PGA for her commitment and development work.

Sarah is passionate about attracting more women into the game and has utilised her own experiences to progress this area with GolfingGirl. As a woman determined to make her mark in a predominantly men’s world, and having grown up in an environment where she was often the odd one out, she knows just what emotions are going through the minds of her female clients when they enter the sometimes intimidating setting of a golf club.

Sarah says helping women relax and feel comfortable in their new surroundings, and quickly develop friendships in the group, is her first priority as their coach. She can relate to their lack of confidence and apprehension, and recalls an incident when she was a teenager that emphasises how intimidating the environment can be.  ‘Being a female coach, I did worry slightly what the boys might think, but it’s been fantastic, and I really enjoy coaching them.

Sarah admits that, when it comes to her coaching philosophy, it is a combination of mental attitudes and management over too much mechanical input.

You can find out even more about Sarah’s inspirational story in her full interview with Connected Coaches.