Local golf professional celebrates 50th year of teaching

This month Swindon-based coach, Ian Bolt, celebrates half a century of being qualified as a PGA Golf Professional. Based at Basset Down Golf Complex near Wroughton, Bolt is a well-respected golf professional in the South West, and started his career when he was just 17 years old. 

50 years is a notable achievement for any PGA member (Professional Golfers Association), which was founded in 1929, and is a global association for golf coaches. After being born in St Andrews, and growing up a stone’s throw away from the first tee of Anstruther Fife GC, Ian started learning to play golf with his sister’s clubs at the age of 13. After spending every possible moment practising on the course his game rapidly developed, with him winning the Club Championships at just 16 years of age. 

A year later he moved from Scotland to Wiltshire and began his 3 year studies to qualify as a PGA Professional, whilst working as an Assistant Golf Professional at Ogbourne GC. After becoming fully qualified at 20 years old, Bolt then moved to Manchester GC with his mentor David Haslam in 1972 for 4 years. His next career move was to North Wilts GC for 2 years, then returning to Ogbourne for a further 11 years. From there, Ian worked at Cricklade GC for 19 years. He has taught at Basset Down GC ever since. 

Some of Ian’s personal achievements include being a prolific winner of the PGA West Region circuit, winning the first Cornwall Festival; a 54-hole event which kicks off the start of the golf season. He has won numerous Pro/Ams in both individual and team events and has been partnered on many occasions with his life-long friend and sponsor Ken Knox. Ian said without the help and support he received from Ken and David Haslam, we would not have achieved the level of success that he did. Ian also competed in the 1974 British Open at Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, where he was placed 75th overall, has been named West Region Golfer of the Year twice, and is a Course Record Holder at 4 different courses across the UK. He is now an honorary member at St Andrews. Despite being in his 50th year of coaching, Ian still teaches a variety of golfers for just shy of 40 hours a week. 

To celebrate this incredible milestone, Basset Down GC arranged a secret collection for Bolt with help from its members and visitors, with over £450 being contributed towards a present. 

As a lover of fast cars, the club has arranged for Ian to have the ultimate driving experience at Thruxton Motorsport Centre with British racing driver and television presenter Tiff Needell. 

When asked about his 50th year of coaching, Bolt said: 

‘I still enjoy teaching now as much as I did when I was 20 years old, even after 50 years! I love seeing the improvement in players, regardless of whether they’re starting out as a beginner, or are a well established golfer in need of a few tips to fine tune elements of their game. Basset Down GC is such a friendly club, with an active membership and has one of the best driving ranges in Wiltshire. It’s great to be part of such a forward-thinking club, and I’m looking forward to continue coaching until my retirement – who knows when that will be though!’ 

Owner of the club, Juliette Nutland said: 

‘Over the last 10 years, Ian has been such a valuable member of our team, and has significantly helped us to grow our Ladies Section, as well as advising on the development of the golf course. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who contributed towards Ian’s present, and helped us surprise him on his special day – his face was a picture!’. 

Based just a 2-minute drive from J16 of the M4 in Swindon, Basset Down GC is open to the public 7 days a week. It’s facilities include a 9 hole golf course, 20 bay driving range, two footgolf courses and a fully licensed café. To find out more about the club and golf lessons with Ian, please visit their website www.bassetdowngolfcourse.com