Golf Foundation President Colin Montgomerie presented Ernie Els with the prestigious award during the annual dinner of the Association of Golf Writers, held on Tuesday evening (12 July) at Royal St George’s, Sandwich.
The South African was selected for the honour for his achievements as a player, for his contribution to the sport, and the commitment he has shown to children and young people.
He joins an illustrious club of previous winners that includes Gary Player (2007), Tony Jacklin (2008), Lee Westwood (2009), and Ian Poulter (2010).
Colin Montgomerie presented the award in front of a packed audience of golf writers from around the world. They learned that his commitment to working with young people had included supporting clinics for Golf Foundation youngsters.
Colin said: “Ernie is a great supporter of young golfers everywhere. He demonstrates his commitment through the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation, which he established in South Africa in 1999. He is rightly proud of the opportunities that this Foundation is giving to talented young South Africans predominantly from families with limited resources.
“More recently, Ernie established the ‘Els for Autism’ campaign and is helping to raise funds for the work being done to develop a better understanding of Autism and, ultimately, find a cure. I know that this is a cause very close to your heart.”
Ernie Els said: “This is a wonderful award to receive and a great honour for me. I wouldn’t have become the player I am today without support at the grass roots level. We players get so much out of golf and so all of us should be prepared to put something back for others. That is what makes the sport so special.”
Ernie Els is a friend to the Golf Foundation. He attended a junior presentation event at Hoebridge Golf Centre in Surrey a few years ago, and met Golf Foundation youngsters at a unique golf facility that was constructed at Canary Wharf in London. On both occasions, Ernie left a lasting impression on those who were fortunate enough to meet him.
The Golf Foundation is a highly progressive development organisation which is increasing golf participation in schools and creating stronger links between schools and golf clubs and driving ranges in support of the national plans for the growth of the game in England, Scotland and Wales. The Foundation’s ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme is aiming to reach one million youngsters per year by 2013, and promotes positive messages to young people (‘Skills for Life’).
The Golf Foundation is supported strongly by, among others, The R&A, HSBC, The European Tour, the Ryder Cup, the PGA, the England Golf Partnership, Sport England, the Ryder Cup Trust, and the British Golf Industry Association’s Grow Golf fund.
HSBC Golf Roots Ambassadors include Lee Westwood, Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis, Ken Brown and Alison Nicholas.
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org