Global Edition

Florida Reward for Work-A-Holic Golf Pro

12.01am 7th January 2011 - People - This story was updated on Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Sharon Brookes, who runs a golf academy and driving range in Blackpool, will swap the seaside town for Orlando when she attends the PGA Merchandise Show in Orange County at the end of January.

The Florida show is the biggest of its kind in the world and thousands of PGA professionals from across the United States and overseas will gather at the golf industry event.

Brookes was selected following a nationwide competition by The Professional Golfers’ Association to celebrate the hard work of its members across the UK.

Her efforts over the past 18 months have seen her establish a series of initiatives that have been embraced by primary and secondary schools in the town and she has also set up links with the British Heart Foundation with a family introduction day.

Regular golf festivals have encouraged youngsters into the game while an especially rewarding effort has been her close ties with Woodlands School for children with special educational needs.

She has also set up a feeder link with nearby Stanley Park Golf Club so pupils start on her par three course at her Bisham range before progressing through to the 18-hole course where they also get free lessons.

In tandem with St Annes Old Links she also has plans to create a league between local clubs for seven to eight-year-olds with a pre handicap, pre membership league designed to encourage a new generation of golfers.

PGA chief executive Sandy Jones said: “Many PGA members play a crucial role at grass roots level in bringing people into the game but often their work goes unheralded and this competition was a way of helping recognise the great work they do,” he said.

“In Sharon’s case she typifies the enthusiasm and dedication that has helped galvanise a community and we’re delighted she will get the chance to travel to the PGA Merchandise Show and hopefully it will be a great experience for her.”

Brookes says she barely has time to pause for breath during her hectic schedule but admits she wouldn’t swap her job for the world.

“The council were making a big push to get children into sport and I became community golf coach going into schools and making sure all the schools had opportunity to do it,” she said.

“I would work in the academy until 2pm and then head to the schools to do the coaching – it’s a lot of running around and hard work but worth it.

“The key is building a pathway from the schools to the golf clubs and encouraging a new generations of golfers.”

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