Coaching is in the family blood for lifelong golfing coach Kevin Smith – winner of the Professional Coach of the Year Award – who has been mentoring and advising players ever since he left school some 40-years ago.

The Professional Coach of the Year Award is presented to professional coach who is demonstrates professional excellence or innovation through their coaching activities, and under whose guidance prodigies are able to perform and achieve at the highest levels.

Kevin has been playing golf since he was 14. Several years later when considering potential career paths to take after leaving high school, Kevin’s father, a rugby coach, suggested the Wellington teenager might consider a golfing career as a playing professional. Kevin tossed up the idea, but instead mooted that he wouldn’t mind being a golf coach instead.

Kevin subsequently applied for a job in the pro’ shop at Heretaunga Golf Club, now the Royal Wellington Golf Club… and the rest, as they say, is history, with Kevin recently receiving his 40-year membership recognition certificate from the New Zealand PGA. The organisation’s trainee programme provided the framework for evolving a career in coaching, fuelled by Kevin’s fascination with not only the physiology of swing dynamics, but also the psychology of the game.

Over the ensuing decades, the NZPGA teaching professional created his own hybrid training programmes – which he delivered at both Royal Wellington and Manor Park golf clubs. It was at one of those coaching clinics that Kevin was procured to privately coach a talented 12-year-old Daniel Hillier who was showing potential as an age group player – and subsequently under Kevin’s guidance, went on to become the New Zealand Amateur Champion as a 16-year-old.

Kevin continued to influence Daniel’s fairway evolution into a two-time Challenge Tour winner – including the 2022 Swiss Challenge which propelled Hillier onto the DP World Tour. Kevin still remains on the books in a ‘hands-off’ capacity as Daniel’s swing coach – checking in remotely online when needed during the European Tour, and catching up for face-to-face sessions whenever Hillier is back in New Zealand.

Living on the Kapiti Coast just north of Wellington, Kevin now divides his professional coaching time between the Otaki and Paraparaumu Beach golf clubs, where he runs group and individual lessons for kids and beginners, all the way up to pennant-level players, drawing equally rewarding outcomes from all abilities.

Kevin defines working with beginners and casual golfers as being a ‘building coach’ where the changes to improving technique are usually bigger – because the players are making bigger mistakes – while coaching high performance golfers is more defined as being a ‘fixing coach’ there to tweak and fine tune players’ techniques.

Sharing his teaching tips as an author, Kevin wrote a golf training manual called The Complete Guide to Good Golf – Golf Steps from Beginners through to Advanced Players.