ProDreamUSA has expanded its team of Regional Associates with the appointment of Marbella-based PGA professional Abbey Gittings to work on nurturing up and coming young golfing talent in Spain.
Abbey, who competed on the LET Access Tour after graduating, is now a full-time coach at Marbella Golf Country Club on the Costa del Sol, brings a wealth of experience from her highly successful four-year collegiate career with Nova Southeastern University, where she won the NCAA D-II Individual Championship back in 2012 and led NSU to its fourth consecutive national team title.
“It still brings a big smile to my face when I talk about it,” said Abbey, who made the move from Warwickshire to Florida in 2009 as a ProDreamUSA client. “As a player on the team, you are already held in high esteem around the campus but winning the National Championship meant I was treated like a celebrity. Everyone knew about it and you’re given so much respect from the professors and fellow students, so it’s a great achievement to look back on.”
It was around the age of 15 when Abbey started considering a move to the USA, but admits that at the time she didn’t think she had it in her to actually go – despite winning three consecutive County Championships. Indeed, her first trip abroad was to compete in Brazil at the Faldo Series Grand Final, but no sooner was she experiencing the heat of South America, she was Florida-bound, having made a last-minute decision to turn down South Carolina in favour of the NSU Sharks.
“Another friend of mine had gone with ProDreamUSA and recommended them, so it all happened very smoothly after that. What made ProDreamUSA stand out was the level of support they offered, not just during the initial process, but throughout my time in America. They were so quick to help with any issues which I wouldn’t otherwise have known how to deal with, and even after I’d graduated, they kept in touch. You need someone who’s there for you and they were always involved when I needed them.”
The NSU Sharks home course is Grande Oaks, the venue where the famed movie Caddyshack was filmed, and Abbey can’t speak highly enough of the facilities she enjoyed during her university playing days.
“The course itself was amazing and the practice facilities were in such good condition. Even now, I don’t think I’ve experienced anything as good as they were out there for practicing and that makes such a difference, for your short game in particular.”
Having watched in awe of one her team-mates, Sandra Changkija – who went on to compete on the LPGA Tour – win the National Championship in her first year, Abbey sensationally emulated that feat two years later, clinching a two-shot victory in Kentucky during a memorable junior year.
“I remember at the time thinking ‘wow, how does she do that’ but Sandra was a great inspiration, and I knew that if I worked and trained as hard as her, I would have a chance. It was great to have people like that around you on your team who can give you that belief.
“The event was actually played during the NCAA festival so lots of other sports were playing in the same area, and that made my win even more special as it was such a big occasion. I was one shot back going into the final day but had two birdies in a row late in my round which put me into the lead in the final round and managed to keep it going for the win, which was undoubtedly the highlight of a fantastic four years out there.”
As a ProDreamUSA Regional Associate, part of Abbey’s remit will to be encourage more young girls to stay in the game for longer, while passing on her own insights from her college golf experience to those considering the USA as an option.
“I’m so passionate about playing and studying in America and I love speaking to people about the amazing experience I had, so I can’t wait to be telling young people to go for it and give themselves the chance. You also get great support in the USA on the academic side, and they never let you struggle.”
“It’s also encouraging to see the new investment that’s coming into women’s professional golf and that’s a big incentive for young girls at college now who have aspirations of turning pro at the end. There is something big out there at the end of it and you can make a good living if you work hard.
Abbey’s focus is now on coaching, including runnning a Ladies Academy, and she is relishing the chance to pass on her own philosophy to pupils, whether elite performers or the beginner level golfer.
“Golf has been my biggest passion as a kid so its great to give back, help people improve and see the excitement they get from the game. I was inspired a lot from my coach out in the States and she always just encouraged me to get out and play. It’s not about having the perfect swing, so I like taking my pupils out on the course and teach them how to play the game, rather than worry too much about technique.”
We’re excited about having Abbey as part of our team and inspiring more young golfers to achieve their academic and playing potential out in the States,
To find out more about Abbey’s coaching, visit: www.abbeygittingsgolfcoaching.com