CONWY’S PGA Professional Andrew Blake was keen to stamp his own mark on the role of club professional after being handed the tough task of taking over from legendary pro Peter Lees.
Now, more than two years into the role, his hard work is starting to bear fruit after refurbishing the pro shop and creating an indoor golf studio.
Andrew, 44, spent 12 years as assistant to Peter, who served the championship club for almost half a century.
His career could easily have taken a very different direction. He said: “I was brought up in the North East and left home to work for a Portsmouth-based company selling security equipment.
“I was living in a guest house with my brother and we had a great time, but eventually the company ceased trading and I returned home.
“I saw an advert for an assistant professional at Houghton-le-Spring but was playing off about eight at the time so didn’t think I had a chance. About two weeks later I heard they were still looking so I applied and got the job.
“By coincidence the pro at the time was Stephen Bradbury, who had also worked at Conwy as Peter’s assistant. Stephen’s now pro at Aldersey Green, in Chester.”
His move to this region came in 1993 when he got the assistant’s job at Chirk, near Llangollen.
Andrew, who first got the golf bug as a teen watching golfers from his bedroom window playing at Wearside Golf Club, added: “I stayed there until Peter asked me to help him out with some teaching. In 2002 I then became assistant.
“When Peter retired I put forward my vision to the club and they liked the ideas and gave me the job.”
That was in November 2013 and now he boasts a new-look shop and a state-of-the-art Golf Studio, which was built in the old junior locker room.
Andrew, who lives in Llandudno Junction, added: “With the help of some members I did the work on the shop straight away, then in 2014 I began work on the studio.
“The biggest task was to raise the roof, which I had to get a contractor to do. The rest I was able to do with help from members and friends.
“I’ve got GC2 equipment and GASP Lab, which helps with coaching, allows you to play numerous well-known courses like Royal Birkdale, Troon and Turnberry, but it also allows me to do club fitting.
“It’s still amazing how many golfers are using clubs that are unsuitable. You wouldn’t run a 100m race in size 10 trainers if your feet were size eight! Therefore, it makes sense for anyone that wants to improve their game to get properly fitted.
“I have Callaway, Cobra, Ping and Titleist clubs available so there’s a choice,” said the former county scratch champion.
The room, particularly over the winter months, is well used. Some of the elite players that make the most of the facility include Ladies European Tour star Amy Boulden and top Welsh amateurs Evan Griffiths and Lee Jones.
Members are now starting to book the room out to play their own little events on the various courses too.
“It’s a great addition,” said Andrew, who hopes to emulate his predecessor and enjoy a long career as Conwy’s head pro.
Fate suggests he might get his way. “I was trawling through some old belongings recently and I found a 15th birthday card I’d kept from my auntie. It’s the only birthday card I’ve ever kept and I don’t know why I still have it, but the image on the front is of Conwy Golf Club.
“I was living 230 miles away and hadn’t heard of Conwy so maybe it’s a sign?”