The Golf Foundation Annual Awards Ceremony sponsored by Greenside magazine and supported by The European Tour’, heralded those inspirational figures who have worked closely with the leading golf charity the Golf Foundation. The Foundation makes golf more accessible for youngsters from all backgrounds and abilities and supports the national golf partnerships of England, Scotland and Wales.
Taking place during the BMW PGA Championship on 20th May, a packed crowd of VIP guests heard nine remarkable stories of commitment to junior golf in 2008 as Golf Foundation President Ken Schofield CBE presented the awards.
Brendon Pyle, national development manager of the Golf Foundation, said, “The reason for this ceremony is to celebrate the work done in 2008 to support and develop grass roots junior golf through school and community projects across Great Britain.
“Golf has so much to offer young people, from the fun and satisfaction of playing a great sport to the learning of life skills that help create rounded individuals. For our work to succeed the Golf Foundation relies heavily on teachers, club volunteers, PGA professionals and development officers all working together. Their dedication to helping others can teach and inspire us all.”
The Golf Foundation is particularly thankful to Greenside magazine which sponsored the awards. Greenside is a consumer magazine with articles developed by the experts, PGA golf professionals, to help golfers get the most out of their golf game. It is produced on behalf of the largest professionals’ buying group Foremost Golf, a keen supporter of the Foundation, by Haymarket Network. The European Tour, itself a strong supporter of the Golf Foundation, provided the excellent marquee venue and a well-received lunch as hosts of the awards.
The President’s Awards were presented as follows:
• The Gus Payne Trophy is awarded to the club that raises the most money for the Golf Foundation’s golf initiatives. For 2008, the award went to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews for donating £4,636. The club was one of the first to sign up whole-heartedly to the Golf Foundation’s ‘Commit to Junior Golf’ campaign.
• The Sinclair Award, for the PGA professional who has carried out junior development work of real excellence, went to Leanne Cooper, assistant professional at Llanwern Golf Club in Wales. Leanne has increased the junior section from seven boys to more than 100 youngsters, including 33 girls. She has helped club volunteers reach into primary schools, pioneered girls’ coaching sessions, developed a nine-hole mini course, and worked with community groups in Newport offering golf to ‘at risk’ youths to reduce crime and disorder.
• The Gallacher Award for the volunteer of the year was presented to Cheryl Pawley of Cookridge Hall Golf Club in Leeds. Through Cheryl’s work Cookridge Hall became the first golf club in the North East of England to achieve GolfMark accreditation. Working alongside PGA coaches she has helped introduce many young people to golf through Tri-Golf sessions in local schools and the creation of a Tigers Club, a pre-membership group held at a nearby 9-hole course with 40 members. There is also a website for juniors and she has welcomed more girls and children from minority ethnic groups into the club.
• The Bonallack Award for a great school and club programme was presented to Droitwich and Worcester School Sport Partnership, which achieved 100 per cent coverage of every school in the partnership (48 schools, including five special schools). Five golf clubs and facilities have been linked to the partnership, while more than 1,000 young people were involved in a series of Tri-Golf festivals. A Community Golf Coach has been employed, and an academy has been developed to provide a transition from Tri-Golf in schools to metal club coaching in the golf clubs.
• The Laddie Lucas Award for the best local initiative went to Tapton Park Golf Club in Derbyshire, which has actively engaged with 23 local schools through club volunteers, young leaders and the PGA professional, creating a number of golf festivals in the process with follow-on coaching at the club. Beginners joining the club receive a welcome pack, loan clubs and the offer of their money back if they don’t like it! Free coaching 20 times per annum and access to the pitch and putt course are all part of the programme, supported by a huge team of parent and young volunteers.
• The Critchley Award for the best major project was presented to the Wrexham County Council Golf Development Group. The Wrexham team broke a world record for the biggest ever mass golf lesson – 802 participants – and by working with so many schools it is retaining many youngsters in golf. With over 1,000 children involved in the school phase, 350 attended follow-on taster days at the local golf facility and 247 have continued with regular coaching.
• The Burroughs Award, for an individual who has done so much for helping disabled golfers, was presented to PGA professional Jon Woodroffe. Jon made a great impact in Kent, working with four special schools and coaching students who have behavioural or learning difficulties and physical disabilities. The feedback and support for this winner from the teachers he has worked with was quite outstanding. Nominee Kim Bushell said: “Jon’s continued enthusiasm and commitment has been an inspiration to us and all of the students he has coached.”
• 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’s winner – Breakthrough Golf in South Gloucestershire – supported young people facing exclusion from school by using golf to change behaviour. The project worked with a group of 15-year-old disruptive students. Over the next six months the boys not only worked on their game at local driving ranges and courses but also became Tri-Golf leaders, delivering Tri-Golf in primary schools. Behaviour of the group has improved significantly and a number of the students have found a passion for the game.
• The Sir Henry Cotton Award for long-term service to junior golf was won by David Houlihan. As Portsmouth Golf Club’s secretary for 25 years (he left the post in 2006 and remains a trustee) David Houlihan took tremendous steps to develop junior golf in the city, both at his home club which saw junior membership treble in his time, and also in the wider community. David has worked closely with the Golf Foundation and Portsmouth City Council, chairing the highly successful Portsmouth Junior Golf Partnership, which actively links schools to clubs. David’s vision for the future is to have golf as an automatic choice on the school curriculum and to have golf clubs more accepting of juniors and their needs.