The heroes of grass roots junior golf: volunteers, PGA professionals, junior organisers, schoolteachers and local authority officers were celebrated at Wentworth Club during the Golf Foundation Annual Awards on Wednesday 19 May.
Taking place in Wentworth Club’s magnificent Ballroom courtesy of Golf Foundation supporter The European Tour, the ceremony heralded those inspirational figures who have worked closely with the leading golf charity during the last year to make golf more accessible to children from all backgrounds and abilities.
While the top players of today prepared to do battle in the BMW PGA Championship outside, Golf Foundation Vice President Bernard Gallacher presented awards in front of a packed audience to the people who are helping to inspire the next generation of golfers.
Charles Harrison, Chairman of the Golf Foundation, said: “This ceremony offers the opportunity to thank a number of individuals who have worked tirelessly in the interest of developing grass roots junior golf and helping youngsters to learn not only the mechanics of the golf swing but also important life skills that can really help them in later life.”
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, added: “For our work to succeed the Golf Foundation relies heavily on all those with passion working at the grass roots of the game. Their dedication to helping others can teach and also inspire us all.”
The President’s Awards were presented as follows:
- The Bonallack Award for a great schools programme was handed to the Mid-Sussex School Sport Partnership, which delivered golf in every school in the area – primary and secondary – reaching around 2,800 children and fostering links with local clubs. A team of secondary school students trained as young leaders and helped to deliver both Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme festivals, while staff attended disability training to ensure that golfing opportunities could be offered to all children and young people.
- The Sinclair Award, for the PGA professional who has carried out junior development work of real excellence, went to Matthew Conner from Snainton golf centre in Yorkshire. Matthew has delivered golf in 70 primary and 10 secondary schools, has organised golf festivals for youngsters and worked with disabled children in special schools. He has worked closely with sixth-form college students on performance and leadership training and his venue is an official Golf Roots centre with RangeMark status. Add to this all his coaching and community development work across his region and Matthew has shown himself to be a huge credit to his golf centre and the PGA.
- The Gallacher Award for the volunteer of the year was presented to Andrew McDonald. This 18 year-old from Newcastle is an excellent example of the type of young volunteer the Golf Foundation is looking to work with to help include more youngsters, a person who can use youth and enthusiasm to engage with children in clubs and schools. Last year, the Foundation’s Regional Development Officers trained over 1,300 young people as leaders. Andrew helped with the delivery of Golf Roots in Newcastle, and was a great asset during the National Golf Roots Final held at Loughborough University last September.
- The Laddie Lucas Award for the best local initiative went to the Girls Allowed project in Suffolk. This scheme encourages girls into golf through a sociable club based at Stowmarket Golf Centre, which is run with young women acting as mentors. Guided by PGA Professional Duncan Burl, 20 girls new to golf enjoyed the delights of the sport in their own club which not only focused on introducing the basics of the game in a safe and friendly environment, but also put an emphasis on fun and the social aspects of the sport. Government ‘Sport Unlimited’ funding is used for golf teaching in schools before follow-on opportunities at the club.
- The Critchley Award for the best major project was presented to the North Lanarkshire Golf Development Group. In Scotland, the aim of clubgolf is to create opportunities so that every child is able to access the sport. North Lanarkshire became the first local authority in Scotland to give every Primary 5 pupil an introduction to golf; that amounts to almost 4,000 boys and girls in 129 schools. Since the golf group’s formation more than 400 individuals have been trained as Activators and more than 75 volunteers have been trained as Level 1 coaches, leading to an increase in junior memberships at local clubs. Plans are now in place to launch a dedicated junior golf academy in the area; a one-stop-shop for all ages and all abilities.
- The Burroughs Award, for an organisation that has made great efforts to create opportunities for those with special needs, goes to Bristol Special Schools Project. This project has improved access to golf for a wide range of special schools and units in the Bristol City Council area. Since it started in 2008, many youngsters have been able to try golf under expert supervision, leading to skills and competition festivals which have become a fixture in the city’s school sports calendar. The project has involved pupils with a wide range of learning difficulties and disabilities.
- The Mackenzie Award highlights how golf can be used to promote positive life messages to young people, a focus of the Foundation’s ‘Skills for Life’ mission. This year the award goes to PGA professional Gavin Grenville-Wood. Gavin, who runs his Academy at Oak Park in Surrey, has worked in the local schools and community and his likeable personality has made him popular with children, teachers, parents and colleagues. Within the Crown Golf group, which owns Oak Park, he has been able to take advantage of the company’s desire to ‘grow the game’ and has championed the concept of skills for life across all of the Crown Golf Academies.
- The Gus Payne Trophy is awarded to the club that raises the most money for the Golf Foundation’s golf initiatives. Tiverton Golf Club is a worthy winner, after members were asked last year to each donate £2 to the Golf Foundation on top of their annual subscription, raising £1,540 in the process. For 2010, the club informed members they should next donate any fee they were comfortable with, and when club secretary Richard Jessop accepted the award on Wednesday, a gasp was heard from the audience as he handed over a cheque for the £2,000 for money raised this year.
- The Sir Henry Cotton Award for long-term service to junior golf was won by Tony Adams, a person who has been described as ‘Mr Rotherham Schools Golf’, as he has been actively promoting golf through schools in that area for 35 years. During that time, he has taken a group of youngsters from Wickersley School on a trip to St Andrews every Easter holiday for 35 years, organised the Rotherham Schools Stroke Play and Match Play Championships for over 30 years, and the Rotherham Schools Team Championship for 14 years. Tony has also run scholarship schemes for under-privileged children and run weekly golf sessions in the sports hall. In announcing the award Mike Round called Tony an “outstanding ambassador” for schools golf.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org