The Golf Foundation has thanked the European Tour for helping “significantly” to raise the profile of junior grass roots golf during the recent BMW PGA Championship.
The Golf Foundation was selected as the joint Official Charity of the tournament alongside Rays of Sunshine, the children’s charity which brightens up the lives of seriously ill youngsters in the UK. Through enthusiastic promotion of these two organisations, on-site fundraising and a series of public participation events at Wentworth Club, the European Tour helped raise more than £87,000 to be shared between the two children’s charities.
However, fundraising was only part of the story, as the Golf Foundation was given centre stage in a special ‘Tri-Golf’ area in Wentworth’s Championship Village for the week to introduce hundreds of youngsters and their families to golf in what is believed to have been the busiest week yet for the Golf Foundation at this event. Some 29 school and club groups came along to enjoy golf challenges, while teachers and parents of all the children involved could find out more about how their children can ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the game with Golf Foundation support.
To excite all ages among public spectators, the Golf Foundation team created the ‘Totally Mega Putt Challenge’ for the week, raising close to £10,000 through the generosity of the many family members who had a go at this 100 ft monster putt; the most accurate putters winning some excellent Titleist prizes every day including Scotty Cameron putters.
Launched to acclaim by Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes on the Wednesday, as Manchester United played Rays of Sunshine youngsters, another star of the show was local lad Ethan, aged 10, who was the first youngster to sink the Mega Putt.
The funds raised by the Golf Foundation will be spent on its HSBC Golf Roots programme through which the charity helps young people, from all backgrounds and circumstances, to enjoy the playing and personal benefits of the sport. Starting in schools and communities the charity has created a successful pathway into club golf, with a target of encouraging 50,000 extra young people through the gates of a golf club by 2018.
The European Tour also provided an excellent venue in which the Golf Foundation could stage its prestigious annual Presidents’ Awards ceremony. In Wentworth’s Ballroom, a crowd of nearly 200 people came together on the Wednesday to celebrate the incredible work of volunteers, professionals and community groups in offering their time and commitment to help young people as they take their first steps in the sport.
Twenty-four hours later, Chairman of the Golf Foundation Stephen Lewis was presenting three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington with the Foundation’s Spirit of Golf Award, given annually to leading golfers who have inspired young people by their achievements and, crucially, through the spirit in which they play the game. Here, Padraig said: “Golf is a wonderful sport for youngsters… In golf, you are on your own, learning to control your emotions and adhering to the rules, which can all help shape character. I love the game and hope I can encourage young people to take it up.”
Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said later: “This charity is hugely grateful to the European Tour for both its fundraising support during the week and the way in which its team has helped ours to showcase the Foundation’s work to visiting youngsters and their families.
“The teamwork doesn’t end there. Following the success of the European Tour’s recent GolfSixes championship at Centurion Club, the Golf Foundation will be helping youngsters to emulate their Tour heroes by piloting ‘GolfSixes Academy’ events in 32 golf clubs around England over the summer, employing the European Tour’s GolfSixes branding. Here, we are supporting England Golf’s junior retention programme in golf clubs following funding from Sport England.
“During the European Tour’s British Masters supported by Sky Sports in September, the Foundation will once again enjoy a fundraising and golf activity opportunity during the week of this event, while our October Pro-Am will once again be set up for us to the highest standard by our colleagues at the Tour. All of this support is helping significantly as we raise the profile of junior grass roots golf in an exciting period for the sport.”
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org