Jonathan Knowles has been named Director of Coaching and Community Engagement for the Cameron Champ Foundation.
Knowles, a PGA teaching professional who has been working overseas since 2010, is based at Foothill Golf Course and will lead the development of our foundation’s junior golf programs.
His journey as a teaching pro has been anything but typical.
As a kid in Plano, TX, Knowles played soccer, baseball and basketball and picked up golf for fun when he was about 7. A trip to Hank Haney’s Golf Ranch when he was 13 was his first introduction to serious golf. Hunter Mahan, then the No. 1 junior in the world, was practicing that day, and Knowles was inspired to see what he could do if he focused on golf.
His hard work paid off, and by the time he finished high school he was a star on both the golf course and the soccer field. He played both sports at Lyon College in Batesville, AK, and taught at Haney’s golf camps for juniors in the summers.
After graduating in 2008, he headed to Germany to try his hand at professional soccer. He spent some time with second division teams but soon decided golf was his future and teaching his passion. He went home to Texas to work on getting his PGA certification.
“What I wanted to do with golf was help kids through the game,” he said. “I wanted to use it as a vehicle to help others.”
After earning his certification, he returned to Berlin in 2010 to work at Gross Kienitz, the largest public golf facility in Germany. Knowles invested heavily in technology (simulators, SAM PuttLab, K-Vest), built the junior golf program there into one of the best in the country and eventually became head pro. After four years, he left Gross Kienitz to work as a private coach with elite junior players in Berlin. In 2019 he moved to Latvia to work at a new Jack Nicklaus-designed course, and he returned to teaching privately when Covid hit.
Now he is back in the U.S. to help the Cameron Champ Foundation build its junior golf programs. He knows the junior circuit can be a struggle for black and brown players, but he is optimistic about the future and excited to make a difference through the foundation.
“Playing junior golf in North Texas, I was usually the only black golfer on the course,” he said. “To see where the game has gone now is pretty cool. There is more representation on the pro tours and a lot more diversity in junior golf tournaments. I want to keep building on that progress in my role with the Cameron Champ Foundation.”