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Heroes of junior golf meet Nicolas Colsaerts

10.12am 23rd May 2014 - Growing the Game - This story was updated on Saturday, June 28th, 2014

All the winners with Nicolas Colsaerts (left) (Getty Images)
All the winners with Nicolas Colsaerts (left) (Getty Images)

The Golf Foundation President’s Awards on Wednesday, 21st May celebrated some of the “heroes of junior golf” who have given their time and enthusiasm to provide young people from all backgrounds and abilities with a start in the game.

Held in the perfect setting of Wentworth Club’s Ballroom, a packed audience from the world of golf heard the stories of nine award winners and their projects, featuring the volunteers, PGA Professionals, junior organisers, schoolteachers and local authority officers who all help to develop the golfers and leading players of the future.

Chairman of the Golf Foundation, Charles Harrison, gave special mention to the generosity of The European Tour and Wentworth Club for providing the stage, and also to one of the ceremony’s guests of honour, Ryder Cup player Nicolas Colsaerts, who kindly presented each of the awards on the day. Nicolas was one of the heroes on his Ryder Cup debut in 2012 as he and Lee Westwood beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the Friday fourballs, the Belgian star carding eight birdies and an eagle of his own in that match.

Charles Harrison said: “So many of us remember the wonderful effort of Nicolas at Medinah. We could wish for no better golfer to present our awards today as he and the rest of Europe’s Ryder Cup Team will have been a huge inspiration to a new generation of young golfers and also to all those who work in the sport.”

Leading the ceremony, Golf Foundation Chief Executive Mike Round said: “Every year we organise this event so we can highlight the incredible work of the people at the grass roots who make it possible for children and young people to experience golf and the benefits it has to offer.

“There could not be a better time or place to do this – here at one of the most impressive golf venues in the country, which is also the home of The European Tour, one of our greatest supporters, and on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship itself.

“In the newspapers over the next few days, we will read about the incredible ability of the golfers taking part at Wentworth this week. It is however worth remembering that the efforts and achievements of our award winners are equally impressive, albeit in a different way. Without these dedicated, heroes of junior golf, many of golf’s star players would never find their game, and thousands of other young people would miss the chance to enjoy this great sport.”

A number of golf’s biggest names were present to applaud the winners, many of whom are volunteers, and who all support the Foundation’s aim to make the game more accessible to children in schools, communities and golf clubs through its ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme.

The President’s Awards were presented as follows:

Gus Payne Award presented to Tiverton Golf Club

The Gus Payne Award is presented to the club that raises the most money for the Golf Foundation’s initiatives and was won by Tiverton Golf Club.

This Devonshire club has been a great supporter of the Foundation over many years, last year donating just over £4,450. Members’ goodwill is demonstrated by a simple but excellent method: a £2 voluntary contribution added on to the annual membership subscriptions.

Mike Round said: “Our award winner really ‘gets it’. Tiverton’s members recognise their responsibilities to the sport go way beyond their own junior section. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the committee, the PGA Professional and the membership at Tiverton Golf Club for their generous support.

“I’d also urge members of all golf clubs to ask the question,‘Do we collect £2 per member each year for the Golf Foundation?’ If the answer is ‘No’ then plead with your secretaries and committees until they do. It’s a very small amount from each club member, but the impact on the sport would be huge.”

Bonallack Award presented to Chartham Park Golf and Country Club

The Bonallack Award acknowledges the importance of the development of golf in schools and Chartham Park Golf and Country Club in West Sussex is a highly deserving winner.

At the heart of this project was PGA Professional Ben Knight who understands how critical it is for a golf club to make connections with local schools. During 2013, he gave 1,198 children under 14 a taste of golf at school using Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme. He promoted fundamental movement skills to complement PE, and life skills to help their overall development.

To promote regular, meaningful coaching Ben was invited to run breakfast and after-school clubs at schools as he built relationships with sports co-ordinators and head teachers, resulting in the staging of a school ‘Tri-Golf Festival’.

Leadership training was also organised for some 84 Year 5 students at seven schools so that they in turn could run their own school competitions.  This excellent example of school work is the first step on the pathway that has been developed to take children from complete beginners through to club members.

Laddie Lucas Award presented to Norwood Park Golf Centre

The Laddie Lucas Award is presented to the best local project and Norwood Park Golf Centre in Nottinghamshire is an outstanding recipient of the honour.

The club boasts a proactive PGA Professional in Richard Strange and great relationships with local schools and the community. Club initiatives include a dedicated junior handbook with a cover designed by the juniors; weekly ‘Girls Into Golf’ coaching, junior coaching, regular taster sessions for schools and an ‘Open Week’ for new players. The Foundation’s PGA-endorsed Junior Golf Passport is a feature, as are weekend junior roll-ups, summer camps and a ‘Junior Buddies’ scheme where more experienced members mark cards for new members.

Junior membership in three years has increased by over 70% and participation in junior coaching sessions has increased by 95%. The club also works extensively with disabled youngsters. Last year, coaching was given to pupils with severe learning difficulties many of whom were in wheelchairs.

Mike Round said: “What other clubs might consider to be impossible, this club makes possible. All at NorwoodPark should be very proud of their achievement.”

Critchley Award presented to the Jersey Golf Development Group

The Critchley Award goes to the Jersey Golf Development Group. This award is presented to a project that involves multiple partners working together towards the achievement of a common aim.

Over the past four years, the Jersey group, led by PGA Professional Wayne Osmand, has enabled 6,000 children to receive free Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme coaching in their schools, the community, and at Les Mielles Golf & Country Club.

The well-run project is backed by the Golf Foundation and other public and private organisations which support the island, while Jersey resident and Ryder Cup hero Tommy Horton has also given his time to inspire the youngsters.

In 2012, teaching golf was part of the curriculum for 11 schools and it has been reported that this number increased in 2013. Workshops for coaches and volunteers have been organised to grow the project, which is also inclusive, with two special schools receiving coaching.

Encouragingly, not only is Les Mielles seeing more juniors at the club, the other clubs on the island are also welcoming enthusiastic children from the schools.

Mackenzie Award presented to The In Communities Project

The Mackenzie Award was introduced to highlight how golf can be used to engage with young people and promote the concept of ‘Skills for Life’. A Yorkshire-based initiative, ‘The In Communities Project’, has excelled to win this honour. Its team, led by golf and sports coach Andy Watmuff, has worked regularly with low academic achieving teenagers, those with Special Educational Needs and those who have been excluded from classes.

With one group, the local driving range restaurant area became a conference facility for work topics before developing their golf skills on the range, including competitions.

Another group worked with the green keeping staff. This inspired three boys to ask about work experience opportunities and work-related learning in horticulture.

One of the teachers said: “Over the ten-week period, I witnessed an improvement in their attitudes, coping skills, anger management, ability to focus. This was down to Andy’s patience, empathy, humour, coaching and personal skills… Andy has made it possible for a lot of our students to gain a qualification and an experience they would have never accessed if it wasn’t for his ability to coach and educate young people through golf.”

Gallacher Award presented to Alistair Tait, Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club

The Gallacher Award is for an exceptional volunteer and Alistair Tait at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club wins the accolade. Supporting the coaching there since 2005, Alistair is now Coaching Coordinator of the junior section, seeing this rising from 94 to 131 in 2013.

Alistair secured funding to develop the practice facilities and set out a three-hole mini-course on the practice ground for the younger juniors. Coaching numbers in 2013 were exceptional with 80 children signing up after Easter and a total of nine trained coaches taking regular one-hour sessions.

Attention to detail is a key. Alistair purchased and fitted mirrors to the storage shed on the practice area as a teaching aid, and painted the three covered bays himself. The club’s reputation led to a visit from the French Golf Federation to experience its methods, and the club was the first without a PGA Pro to be awarded the status of a Scottish Golf Development Centre.

Mike Round said: “Teams need leaders and Fortrose and Rosemarkie’s junior programme has one of the best.”

Sinclair Award presented to Mike Davies, Glyn Abbey Golf Club

The Sinclair Award for best PGA Professional goes to Mike Davies of Glyn Abbey Golf Club in Carmarthenshire. Mike has linked with all the local schools and set up a project called ‘20×20’ that provides free coaching to children of all abilities and gives them the opportunity to join the club through one of many membership categories he has helped to develop.

Mike’s passion is for providing activity for disabled children, working with 20 special schools. He was trained as a Golf Development Wales Inclusive Coach. The club was one of the first to achieve the Disability Sportwales Ribbon Award, and first to be awarded HSBC Golf Roots Plus funding that led to 100 children from 10 special schools being coached and then welcomed with their families to the club.

Mike Round said: “Mike’s impact has been hugely significant with the club increasing membership by 79% in three years, doubling its junior membership and increasing turnover by 10%. However, his work at community level means his influence has extended far beyond just coaching, and has been a huge achievement.”

Burroughs Award presented to Dan Leins, leader of the Kick and Swing project

This year’s Burroughs Award is presented for efforts made to improve access for those with special needs, and here PGA Professional Dan Leins of Churston Golf Club won the honour for his outstanding effort in leading Torbay’s ‘Kick and Swing’ project. Dan’s project creates fun coaching with a golf and football mix. Kick and Swing works with two local special needs schools and focused departments from other schools. Running for four years, it continues to grow each year, organised in partnership with Torquay United Football Club.

Golf and football coaches work alongside each other to deliver the two sports closely together to maximise engagement with classes of children who have varying physical disabilities and learning difficulties.

The project works with four to six groups each week for a six-week period and the highlight is the ‘Celebration Event’ where the children are brought together at Torquay’s home ground, Plainmoor. Golf and football activities are organised, before the players from Torquay attend to join in themselves.

This is a great example of how sports can work together to provide fun and enjoyment to many disabled children.

Sir Henry Cotton Award presented to Philip Woodcock, Scarborough North Cliff Golf Club

This award winner receives a generous grant of £1,000 from Golf Foundation supporter, The Stanley Morrison Charitable Trust.

The Foundation’s most prestigious prize, the Sir Henry Cotton Award, is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to junior golf over a sustained period of time. This year’s winner is Philip Woodcock, Junior Organiser at Scarborough North Cliff Golf Club

Joining the club as a 14 year-old in 1968, he reached a good standard of golf and decided in 1983 to offer himself for the post of Junior Organiser. Thirty years on, his dedication and commitment to the role is still as strong as ever.

The junior section grew from small beginnings through Philip’s Monday night two-hour coaching sessions held over the 26 weeks of warmer weather (one indoor session a month in winter).

The ethos promoted was not just about playing golf, but one that also provided the juniors with the opportunity to develop social skills, thus giving them a good grounding for the future while forming long-lasting friendships.

Philip has recruited several assistants to help him and the format has produced a thriving crop of junior players at Scarborough North Cliff year on year.

Philip chose the Golf Foundation’s Junior Golf Passport Scheme to support coaching sessions, which are now organised and run by the Club’s PGA Professional Fraser Kelley.

His encouragement has created British Amateur Champions, PGA Pro’s and an employee of the European Seniors Tour. There are also several hundred juniors who have progressed into other occupations, having benefited from the life skills learned at the junior sessions.

One of these said: “Philip has taught us the importance of making friends, building and maintaining relationships, and acting responsibly with confidence. He’s encouraged us throughout school, university and our careers. I know that all will be proud to call him their friend.”

Mike Round said: “I’d like to express my appreciation to this gentleman, firstly, for all he’s done for the junior section at Scarborough North Cliff Golf Club for the past 30 years and, secondly, for what he’s done to have a positive impact on the lives of all those who’ve been fortunate enough to have been part of his programme.”

HSBC Golf Roots and the Golf Foundation

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