For those of you who don’t know me, I am Philip Sparks, younger brother of Brian. I am sorry to be the bearer of the sad news that our founder and mentor, Brian, sadly passed away on Friday 4th February. Brian had had a long running battle with cancer, but passed away peacefully in our sister’s arms, in St Albans Hertfordshire in England, where she had nursed him with love and care throughout his final months.
I know this sad news will have an impact on so many golfers around the world, who benefitted from Brian’s inspirational work on developing a better way for golfers to be able to improve their games in the easiest way possible. He was passionate to not take us into the technical abyss that so many Golf Teachers have fallen into in recent years. Brian’s unwavering belief was that if you could reduce tension and technical thought and realign players beliefs in areas where they were maybe out of kilter, their swings would flourish as would their entire game. He also passionately believed that a positive attitude and one that accepted the mistakes that occur frequently in this game, would carry players to a higher level. As his brother, I saw this happen time and time again with players who would find they had an ability within them that they never knew existed.
I mentioned at the beginning, the impact this news would have on so many golfers, but I knew Brian well enough to know he would say, “Don’t be sad, we should be grateful that our paths crossed. And to please carry on flying the flag for Easiest Swing”. He would want you to continue to go out and truly enjoy your golf.
Brian has left Easiest Swing in the hands of a small team headed by Seán Herron (in Majorca) and me to continue his vision of an online and Virtual Golf Club. A Club where members could meet and take on board information and stories from Easiest Swing Coaches and like-minded golfers, as well as developing rooms in this virtual “Club” designed to help golfers improve their fitness, nutrition, wellbeing and mental attitude. Brian has been working on this project for several years and we expect to bring it to life later this spring. Seán (pronounced Shan) and I look forward to announcing the opening of the Club in a newsletter in the near future, but if you want to express your interest in the meantime, we are already building a list of fellow Easiest Swing Golfers who will enjoy being founder members.
Brian wasn’t just my big brother (BB) and me his little brother (LB, which is what we often called each other) he was my best friend, my golf coach and mentor and was the nearest thing that I had to a Dad, when “Pop” died in 1977. Brian was hungry for knowledge to better help people with their golf and we worked and discussed the topic endlessly for 50 years! Without him, I could never have been a golf professional as was proved to me in 1977 when I moved for a job to another professional who also coached me. However, this proved to be a disaster and when I was picked up by Brian a mere 18 months later, my game was in pieces and I was virtually ready to give golf up, convinced that I would never make it. By contrast, Brian never stopped believing in me.
I saw over the years, that he had the same vision for every golfer he ever met, he was convinced there was a way they could make their game easier and more effective - if he could just get beneath their pre-conceptions and reveal the inner great player he was always convinced lay there. I had been coaching Julia (my wife) for 25 years when she had a one, and only one, hour long lesson with Brian. Most of the time was spent getting inside her head, not hitting shots, but when they finished I could not believe the difference in her swing! 15 years later she still swings the Club better than she ever did under my coaching and all sorted in a single one-hour session! That is how good my brother was!! When asked today what he told her, she can’t exactly remember, just something about how to make it as easy as possible and just to relax and go with it. I am sure there will be many of you reading this who will be able to relate to that.
Brian and I have two elder sisters, both who have taken turns in looking after him since last summer when he stopped being able to look after himself, and I know he was so grateful to them for taking him in and giving him the love and care that he needed. Pat and Brenda, you have been so kind and generous to Brian, and I know he felt safe and loved by you both and I would like to thank you for taking such good care of him during these past few difficult months. In my own way, I did everything I could to make life easier for Brian, by taking over and running various elements of his business and affairs and hope that a few key elements of that will continue long after he has gone. Brian didn’t just want to make a living from coaching - he wanted to change the way golf is coached - and was passionate that his legacy should gather momentum after his death. He truly believed that traditional coaching, despite its ambition to help, just made the game more difficult for most golfers. He always remained convinced that the answer is not to tell people how to do it, but to guide them to discover for themselves better ways to swing and play. He believed in movement and freedom not constraint and stillness. I watched him coach people who had never played before, and also coach highly experienced pros, and was always astonished how, in such a short time, you could see them flourish and experience a much better way that felt way too easy to be true!
Brian was first diagnosed with Hodgkins disease, which is a cancer of the lymphatic system, in 1977 when he was 26. He underwent pioneering new radiotherapy treatment for six months which devastated him. In those days there were no anti sickness treatments, so he suffered terribly, but despite becoming extremely frail, he finally pulled through and survived this treatment. It is interesting to know that one of the life changing moments for Brian was right at the end when he had had his final treatment. No one told him that he would not get better straightaway….. In his head he had finished this dreadful treatment and should finally start to feel better, but no one explained to him that for some time he would continue to get worse as the radiotherapy did its job before he got better. The effect was devastating for him, as here he was expecting to feel better but in fact he felt worse. In his head he was convinced he was going to die. I went to visit him at that time and he was so weak that he couldn’t raise a glass of water to his mouth, so I had to do it for him. By this time, he was six and a half stone (90 pounds, 40 kilos) and I remember leaving him and I think we both thought it would be the last time we would see each other and, very emotionally, we said our goodbyes. However, finally after several months, he gradually started to pull through. It was about a further two years before he got back to anything like a full recovery. I think this experience set the stage for his absolute belief that you must be aware of your student’s beliefs and that trying to change their swings without changing their beliefs was futile. In its formative state, Positive Impact Golf and later Easiest Swing coaching was in its very earliest stages of life.
During these last few difficult weeks Brian asked me to wish each of you who met and knew him, great golfing and he sends his love too. He cared deeply for every single person he ever worked with. So, when things are not quite going right in your game, listen for his voice….. it will be there, he will tell you to relax, swing with ease and balance and let your game come back to you. Trust yourself and most importantly enjoy!! And remember, whether you think golf is easy or golf is difficult, you will be right! The choice is yours!!
Brian turned pro at East Berks GC in 1966 and played the tour from 69-72 before moving to The Downshire. He then worked as Head Pro at Barton on Sea, Staverton Park, Stoneham before moving to France in 1987 to become Head coach at Sully sur Loire, Chateau des Sept Tours, Sable Solesmes. After that he became General Manager at Les Bordes and The Lambourne Club before returning England in 2006 to coach at my golf course and driving range, Manston Golf Centre. I sold Manston in 2011 and Brian stayed on there for a further 5 years before then moving to Canterbury GC as the final home for his wonderful coaching.
Brian Anthony Vincent Sparks June 17, 1951 – February 4, 2022
Brian requested that no flowers are sent for his funeral, but that gifts to the charity below are made instead. Should you wish to attend the funeral please note Brian’s request that guests wear “Happy” clothes and that the event afterwards will be a “Celebration of Brian’s life”:
Philip and the team at the Easiest Swing
With heavy hearts,