David Leadbetter is setting up golf teaching academy

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THE most successful golf coach in the world is looking to set up a teaching academy in the UK – and Goodwood is on his horizon.

David Leadbetter – the man who coached six players who have reached number one in the world – has 28 academies in 13 countries, but has yet to set up a base in the UK.

Originally from Worthing, Leadbetter would love to have a base in the county.

Leadbetter is now based mainly in America, but he has family in West Sussex – his mother lives in Rustington – and on a flying visit to the UK, he outlined his plans to expand his continually-expanding golf empire.

He said: “We have been talking to Goodwood about doing something, but it’s in the very early stages. Goodwood is a lovely facility – I was amazed what I found there, and it has real potential to do something.

“People know about Goodwood not only in the local market, but worldwide. It’s a fabulous place, and it would be an ideal location.

“One of things that’s very important to us when we open an academy is the location, and potential practice facilities. Goodwood doesn’t have that at the moment, but I know they’re looking at doing something.

“It ticks all the boxes for me, with the facilities it could offer and being close to an area I know well.”

And the possibility of linking his brand, one of the most prestigious in golf, with Goodwood and its reputation for quality is one that excites him.

Leadbetter added: “We have some exciting things in the pipeline as far as changing the way the game is coached.

“You have got to keep progressing –I have always been at the cutting edge of instruction, and we have to see if we can get people to play this game in a more correct manner and enjoy playing a bit more.

“For many of us, that’s a lifetime’s pursuit! “Leadbetter is now a household name around the world, but his early years were spent in the family home in Worthing.

He said: “We lived here until I was about seven, when my family moved to Rhodesia.

“I lived in Northamptonshire for perhaps two years, and then moved out to the States in 1980 – and been there ever since, for 30 years or so.”

He has three children – one is following in his father’s footsteps and is teaching, heading up the family business in China, while the other two are both members at Ham Manor. His daughter, who plays off a handicap of two, has just started a golf scholarship in America, while his 16-year-old son plays off four.

He said: “I have always had links with Ham Manor Golf Club. My grandmother lived just down the road, so when I came back to this country in the mid-1970s, it was easy for me to walk down the road and get a game.”