At the age of 22, Alyson Mckechin was playing on tour. Now, with the benefit of PGA training behind her, the Assistant Professional’s attention is focused on coaching at Stirling Golf Club, where she is driving a flourishing junior scene and a 120-strong women’s section.
After winning the Scottish Ladies Amateur Championship and representing Scotland on the international stage, it seemed as though Alyson Mckechin had her future mapped out.
She turned professional in 2015 and earned qualifying rights on the Ladies European Tour, where she played in various events across the world.
The 28-year-old from Paisley gave it a go but realised she needed a new career path, which she found by completing her PGA training.
Serving an apprenticeship with John Greaves, at Glasgow Golf Club, before moving to Stirling and working under the guidance of Kenny Monaghan, Alyson has widened her skills, embraced fresh challenges, and discovered a new passion for coaching.
How did you make the move into coaching?
I didn’t want to leave the golf industry and that’s when I decided to go down The PGA route. It was a great decision. Kenny has really helped my coaching develop. My motto is ‘keep it simple’. I have a lot of people who are just starting and it’s important to keep the excitement and enjoyment in the game for them.
What does your coaching role involve?
My attention is focused on coaching golfers of all abilities, helping players lower their scores on the golf course and improve their overall game. I am also involved with the junior programme at Stirling Golf Club and have a keen interest in developing junior golfers.
We run a programme called Kids at the Castle. Last summer we had 80 kids a week and that’s been maintained over the winter. Our practice area has been all revamped and we have a six-hole Academy course, which is fantastic. And I’m involved in inspiring more females to take up this great game. I work with Stirling and Clackmannanshire girls’ county team, getting them ready for the summer. It’s very active.
How does coaching compare to life on tour?
Coaching really is my passion now. When you’re a touring golfer it’s all very much about you. But this is about looking after others. There’s a great sense of satisfaction watching someone swing it better, hitting it better and growing in confidence with your guidance. I’d only given a couple of lessons before I quickly realised how much I loved it. I enjoyed travelling around on tour and playing alongside some of the best players in Europe for a spell. But I’ve learned a lot through The PGA, and it’s really opened my eyes.
I hadn’t thought much about junior coaching or getting women into golf but that all changed when I came off tour. When you realise that you are actually inspiring people to take up golf and stick with the game, that’s a really nice feeling. I’ve probably developed a lot more patience too. It’s been a very enjoyable journey for me.
What challenges did you encounter on the Ladies European Tour?
I didn’t have much sponsorship and when you’re looking at £60,000 to cover your expenses for a year, it was tough. Because of my status, I was working on a week-to-week basis and wasn’t sure if I’d be in an event or sitting at home. It was hard to build any momentum.
My contemporaries in the amateur game were players like Georgia Hall, Charley Hull, and Leona Maguire. My claim to fame is that I beat Georgia in the singles of the Home Internationals at Gullane. She’s done pretty well for herself since then, hasn’t she? At the back of your mind, you always wonder ‘could it have been me?’ We were all on a pretty level playing field as amateurs. But they performed when they got the opportunity and that propelled their pro careers to a whole new level.