Most of you will be familiar with YouTube. Then again, some of you may just think it’s a Scottish insult. The YouTube in question is the global online video sharing and social media platform upon which you can watch just about anything. And I mean anything. Whether it’s seminal moments in human history, like footage of the moon landings, or a shaky recording of big Davy from Garthamlock drinking a pint of heavy through his nostrils before collapsing on a startled dog, YouTube’s rich tapestry of content tickles all manner of fancies.

For Peebles head professional, Steve Johnston, YouTube has opened up a whole new world of opportunity as he spreads his golfing pearls of wisdom to various corners of the globe. With almost 84,000 subscribers to his channel, Johnston is Scotland’s most prolific golfing YouTuber and his online lessons, drills, tips and tutorials go far beyond his base in the Scottish Borders. “Something like 55% of my YouTube views are from the USA, 33% are from the UK and the rest is a global mix,” said Johnston of this vast reach.

Somewhere in South Dakota, then, 16-handicapper Hank will be telling Elmer and Chuck that his crippling slice has been cured by Johnston’s expertise as they mosey up the second.

Encouraged and inspired by the output of his fellow professional Rick Shiels, who was something of a YouTube trailblazer in the UK and now has over 2.4 million subscribers, Johnston has embraced the medium and is reaping the rewards. Like learning to play the game itself, though, you have to put in the hard yards if you’re going to be successful at it. “In the early days it was all about being persistent,” added Johnston of those formative dabbles. “It’s a slog at the outset, putting in the effort and hours creating content for so few views but it pays off eventually. When you see traction in a video and receive coaching requests, you know the time put in has been worth it.

“I was invited to play in Rick’s YouTube golf day at Formby Hall back in 2019. He explained that the best thing about having a channel is when golfers travel long distances just to come to you for their lessons. He said, ‘think how many golf professionals someone has driven past to come to see you?’. Rick also highlighted the fact that there is almost a relationship in place before you meet the client. They know you and like your style which makes the experience for both parties very easy indeed.”

Teeing-up each video with his catchphrase, ‘right, we’re on’, Johnston delivers insightful instruction in a simple, light-hearted way that even the most ham-fisted of howkers will understand. Yes, even this hapless correspondent. “Each video is different and most of my content is tuition based so a lot of research goes into each video with inspiration also coming from lessons I deliver on the range,” said the Advanced PGA pro, who also writes a tuition column in Bunkered magazine. “I also seek inspiration from reading about how the great golfers from the past used to play the game and I then incorporate that into more modern-day techniques. This all takes time. I would say an eight-minute video, from research to filming to editing to uploading, would take between two and four hours.

“About 80% of all my coaching now is with golfers who have seen me on YouTube. I’ve had had to enrol an extra member of staff to assist with coaching the members at my club.”

While plenty of long-in-the-tooth golfers will continue to leaf through a dog-eared edition of 'Practical Golf by John Jacobs' in search of a canny technical tip, the YouTube market grows and grows. Johnston is urging more of his fellow club professionals to give it a whirl too. “They should grab their phone and go for it,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be engaging and relative to what a golfing audience requires. Waiting for someone to come into the pro shop and buy a Mars bar is not good enough. You need to go out and be seen. Even if your subscribers are only the members from your golf club, it’s highlighting your knowledge and your offerings to them.”

Type ‘Steve Johnston PGA’ into a YouTube search engine and see for yourself…