The Golf Foundation Presidents’ Awards at Wentworth on Wednesday, 24th May celebrated the “inspirational work” of volunteers and professionals who have given their time and enthusiasm to provide young people from all backgrounds and abilities with a start in the game.
Thanks to support from the European Tour, a total of 10 awards were presented in Wentworth Club’s elegant Ballroom to individuals and group projects who exemplify how junior golf can flourish for the good of all. A major theme of the day was how the teaching of life skills through golf can help young people to thrive in the wider aspects of their lives, and this ‘Skills for Life’ message resounded in every award category.
On the eve of the BMW PGA Championship, a packed audience of nearly 200 applauded as Emma Anderson, England Golf’s Young Ambassador of the Year, opened the proceedings with a speech about how she has been inspired by the game.
Emma said: “Golf is a great sport for girls because it helps grow their confidence, it certainly has for me! It can teach girls how to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds, with the values the game promotes being useful in so many different areas. To encourage more girls to take up the sport, it is crucial to grow the inclusive atmosphere at golf clubs, allowing everyone to feel welcome and comfortable in any club.”
This highly positive opening set the scene in which award winners spoke passionately about their work and the audience enjoyed videos of dynamic junior golf progress to modernise and grow the game. Foundation President Sandy Jones presented each award trophy and Chairman Stephen Lewis echoed the need to encourage the next generation of golfers so they can experience the fun and friendship of a sport they can play for their whole lives.
And as the 10 award winners each took to the stage they heard some ‘swing’ by the band from Claydon High School, near Ipswich, itself a school typical of thousands now playing golf as a sport and following a path into regular club golf as part of the Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme, which sees more and more youngsters ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the game.
Chief Executive Brendon Pyle introduced the awards by saying: “When Sir Henry Cotton helped set up this charity in 1952 he recognised the wider value of the sport and how it can bring out the best in young people. Today is a celebration of the inspirational work that is being done to help young people enjoy the personal and playing benefits of golf.”
Chairman Stephen Lewis said: “All the winners here today embody the values of our charity and the people behind these projects are really very special. They all recognise that our children represent the future of the game and that in turn golf can help nurture good citizens, so it is an absolute privilege to be here to meet them. This day wouldn’t be possible without the support of the European Tour and also all of our core supporters who are helping us to make great progress in opening up the game to more youngsters from all backgrounds and abilities.”
Foundation President Sandy Jones added: “This is one of our most wonderful days of the year as we all feel inspired to be part of this dynamic group. The desire and commitment to support young people shines through in every case and makes me feel they are making the game better now, and for the future.”
The Critchley Award
Presented to a project that has taken golf into the community and made the sport available to any young person.
WINNER: Palace For Life Foundation for its success in creating opportunities for young golfers and developing junior players in its community.
The Palace for Life Foundation has worked with the Golf Foundation, Sport England, the Youth Sport Trust, Premier League 4 Sport, and StreetGames in a great partnership that has reached out to a large community of 14+ young people and through the ‘power of football’ has introduced hundreds to StreetGolf (over 50% girls and 33% BAME) and a route into golf clubs. A major highlight was staging a StreetGolf regional final at Palace’s ground, Selhurst Park, where young people chipped into the dug-out, hit shots from the stands and even fired shots into the goals.
The Palace Foundation’s Roxanne Bennett said: “This has been a great partnership project, we have all worked together to get more youngsters playing the game and I’d like to thank Andy Wright from the Golf Foundation, Steve Stiller from Fairleigh Golf Club and Sue Beck from Croydon High School for their excellent teamwork.”
The Bonallack Award
Presented to a project that has helped young people to ‘Start, Learn, Stay’ in golf.
WINNER: Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club for creating a pathway that has resulted in a significant increase in junior membership at the golf facility.
Pyle & Kenfig has embraced the development of junior golf over the past 12 months, taking golf into schools and working closely with Golf Development Wales, which has resulted in 47 new junior members, 20 of these being girls.
The club’s vision for junior golf is “to share with the local community the benefits and enjoyment of playing golf, removing all barriers to participation and in doing so introduce new junior boys and girls to the golf club with the aim of them becoming part of our club for the future”.
Club manager Simon Hopkin said: “Thanks to the Golf Foundation and we certainly couldn’t have done this without the great help of Golf Development Wales; we’re so grateful to Hannah, Zoe, Stuart, Theo and the whole team.”
The Montgomerie Award
Presented to a young volunteer, in recognition of his/her time and effort spent supporting junior development.
WINNER: Hannah Chaudry, a young volunteer at Northcliffe Golf Club in Yorkshire, who has helped to run the junior academy and summer camp sessions and organised the club’s junior fundraising day for the last two years, last year raising £1,000.
When Hannah started as female junior Captain there were nine junior members and after running weekly academy sessions, 28 juniors attended on a regular basis, the junior membership grew to 44, 12 of whom were girls.
Assistant PGA Pro Matt Stanworth said: “Hannah is a fantastic supporter of the younger girls, not only does she coach them, she is also a friend, and her help to me in group coaching makes the sessions really productive and fun.”
Meanwhile, Hannah achieved 10 A* grades last year in her GCSE’s and reduced her handicap to 6 while doing all this work!
The Burroughs Award
Presented to an individual who has made particular progress in golf in the face of adversity or a project that has made efforts to create opportunities for those with special needs.
WINNER: The Sheffield Inclusive Golf project provided fully accessible and inclusive golf sessions for a group of young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. A Special Olympics Golf Club was then formed to offer participants the opportunity to take part in the Special Olympics National Games which will be held in Sheffield later this year.
A number of young people in the project received the prize on the Wentworth stage, led by the highly-respected PGA Professional Peter Ball, who has coached this team.
Peter said: “What these young people have achieved is brilliant. Everyone here today is used to dealing with public situations and conversing with strangers but for a number of our group this kind of thing is a huge challenge for them, dealing with new situations can be very difficult. But this golf project has been great for building their confidence gradually, developing new life skills that can help in their day-to-day lives while making some friends for life. Each person has benefited in different ways. In return, I have learned so much from them, which has been a privilege.”
The Gus Payne Award
Presented to the golf club that donates the most amount of money in support of the Golf Foundation’s activities.
WINNER: Enfield Golf Club and Captain Phil Tiddy for their generous contribution of just under £9,000 raised by adopting the Golf Foundation as the Captain’s Charity.
In his Captain’s year Phil Tiddy was keen to back the Foundation and to do so he ran a variety of activities over the course of the year but perhaps the highlight was attracting Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston to play in a Pro-Am hosted at his golf club, which raised more than £3,000. Phil and his team communicated with the members to raise funds and this good work brought a further focus to an already thriving junior section.
Foundation CEO Brendon Pyle said: “Phil was supported by a large group of people at the golf club including his wife and fellow junior organiser, Kathryn. He is passionate about golf and helping young people, and hopefully his example can inspire more club captains to think of the Golf Foundation as one of their nominated charities.”
The Mackenzie Award
Presented to a project or individual that has successfully integrated Skills for Life into its work with young people.
WINNER: AL Junior Academies led by PGA Pro Aaron Lansberry for promoting life skills to over 120 children from all backgrounds at three golf clubs in Warwickshire.
Aaron is a PGA Coach who takes a holistic and child-centred approach to introducing golf to young people and their families. He spends hundreds of hours a year in local schools and community groups reaching up to 250 youngsters a week. Every child is given a golden ticket to encourage them to progress up to the golf club, which has led to a great return.
Aaron promotes key life skills from the very first session children have with him.
Golf Foundation RDO Paul Aitkens said: “The sessions are planned for the pure enjoyment and satisfaction of the juniors. Our winner believes that the feeling of choice, competence and building long term friendships are key components to children having fun at their sessions and staying in the sport. Aaron is highly deserving of this award.”
The Sinclair Award
Presented to a PGA Professional who, as a direct result of his/her efforts, has made a significant impact in the development of grass roots junior golf (ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler as prize).
WINNER: Matt Edgar from Horton Park Golf Club in Surrey for engaging with many young people to develop a thriving junior section.
Matt has transformed the junior section since his arrival by embracing Golf Foundation initiatives, working with a variety of school and community partners, and making the junior programme fun, inclusive and child-centred.
He works with Fulham Football Foundation to introduce more children with disabilities to golf and runs two girls-only sessions each week.
Matt delivers Tri-Golf teacher training workshops for local schools and 150 juniors receive coaching at the golf club each week. His Skills for Life coaching gives children the best chance to succeed not only in their golf but also through improved confidence. Some 48 juniors have joined the club in the last year. Golf course owner, Richard Haygarth, says of Matt: “This coach is every golf course owner’s dream.”
The ‘Laddie’ Lucas Award
Presented to a project that has created more opportunities for girls to play golf.
WINNER: Cottingham Parks Golf Club for engaging more beginner girls into golf by working with the local sports partnership and secondary schools.
Two of the club’s PGA Coaches, Mark Thompson and Alex Boyton, organised taster sessions for 280 girls in the local secondary schools from years seven to 11.
This led to a regular StreetGolf satellite club at the school with the support of the county sport partnership, Active Humber. Thirteen girls continued to sessions at the local golf club with seven taking up academy membership. A similar satellite club in another local secondary school enjoyed similar success.
The club has really supported the initiative by running a Women and Girls Taster Evening, which attracted 40 individuals and included amongst other activities a Putt for Prosecco Challenge, as well as encouraging mothers and daughters to attend and play golf together. Momentum is growing in this excellent campaign.
The Gallacher Award
Presented to a volunteer who, as a direct result of his/her efforts, has made a significant impact in the development of grass roots junior golf.
WINNER: Steven Bowers, who has been a committed volunteer supporting the junior section at Northampton Golf Club.
Steve gives up many hours of his time each week to build and develop the junior section of his club, which has grown significantly both in terms of membership and its breadth of offering.
The junior section offers over 40 events each year ranging from serious competitions to fun sessions such as an Easter Egg Hunt, fancy dress Halloween competitions played in the dark and a Christmas gathering where the course is full of snowmen and Santas.
Golf Foundation RDO for the area Jason Sorrell said: “Our winner firmly believes in ‘Golf for All’ by ensuring that young people with learning difficulties and disabilities play a full part in the section and by supporting more girls into golf. The club now has its first girls team and nine of them represented their county in 2016. Juniors are encouraged to help on the junior committee, greet new members at meetings and events, and to help out with academy coaching and competitions. What a great achievement!”
The Sir Henry Cotton Award
Presented to an individual who has demonstrated meritorious service to junior golf for a sustained period. The winner of this award receives a grant kindly provided by the Stanley Morrison Charitable Trust and an ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler.
WINNER: David Franklin who has encouraged and supported youngsters at Epsom Golf Club in Surrey since 2002.
Back in the early 2000’s David Frankin read about the Golf Foundation’s club learning programme, the Junior Golf Passport, and persuaded the club PGA Pro to adopt the fun initiative. For the first time in its 100-year history, the club started structured coaching.
In addition, David saw that the Golf Foundation’s Tri-Golf programme was ideal for taking golf into primary schools in the area surrounding the golf club and since 2003, Tri-Golf sessions in 11 local schools have reached 4,000 children. Furthermore, he was one of the first organisers in the country to run a Tri-Golf festival, bringing hundreds of pupils from local schools to the golf club, now an annual event on the club calendar.
This pathway to the golf club and the warm welcome the children receive has led to Epsom GC becoming a force for junior golf (more than 100 junior members at present) and at the age of 80 David still regularly attends junior committee meetings.
Foundation CEO Brendon Pyle said: “It is fitting that we should end today’s awards with a celebration of a volunteer who has embraced the aspirations of Sir Henry Cotton and the work of the Golf Foundation. We could not have a better recipient for this award.”
David Franklin said: “I am really pleased and honoured to be recognised in this way but this couldn’t have been done by one person. I am privileged to have had a great team around me right from the time we decided to reach out to more youngsters and welcome them to the club, and we are all delighted that Epsom Golf Club has such a strong relationship with schools and the community.”
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org