The Golf Foundation Presidents’ Awards at Wentworth on this afternoon (Wednesday 23rd May) celebrated the “fantastic people at the heart of junior golf” – the volunteers and professionals who selflessly give their time to help young people to enjoy the benefits of golf.
Thanks to support from the European Tour, the ceremony was held again this year in Wentworth Club’s elegant Ballroom, where the event’s largest ever audience heard the stories of 10 award winners and their projects – some of whom have been through positive but emotional journeys thanks to golf.
The Golf Foundation is the nationally recognised charity that works with national partners to encourage young people to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport. Its HSBC Golf Roots programme reaches 500,000 youngsters a year, creating a pathway from discovering golf in schools and the community to playing regular golf at golf clubs. The charity offers boys and girls the opportunity to enjoy all aspects of the sport with an emphasis on ‘Skills for Life’ learning to support young people as they develop, both on and off the course.
The Presidents’ Awards ceremony was teed up perfectly by Emma Anderson and Ali Jodiyawalla, who are members of the England Young Ambassadors group. Ali and Emma spoke eloquently, while10‘Presidents’ Awards’ were presented by the charity’s current President, Sandy Jones. Each award winner was serenaded with an appropriate song by the brilliant Windsor Academy Trust Choir from Halesowen; not only great singers but an academy with a strong golfing pedigree.
Golf Foundation Chairman Stephen Lewis thanked all the charity’s core funders and supporters for backing the Foundation throughout another year. Chief Executive Brendon Pyle then talked the audience through the award winners and their “incredible work”. He added: “We received so many brilliant nominations which shows just how much is being done in golf clubs, schools and communities to encourage youngsters into the game. The people on stage today represent all the fantastic people at the heart of junior golf.”
The Awards included the following:
This year’s winner of the Critchley Award is Chapelton Primary School and Broadlees Golf Club, in Strathaven, Scotland. This eight-week partnership fostered ‘community spirit’ through golf and educated young people about a range of subjects. All 44 pupils from Chapelton school visited Broadlees GC each week, taking part in golf activity but also learning about: renewable energy in relation to nearby wind turbines; planting 80 trees at the golf course; farming diversification; building bird boxes and designing a golf hole. The pupils had reports published in the local paper, contributed to a new community noticeboard at the club and attended a Mini Medics first aid course run by the club staff. Twenty-nine of the pupils progressed to after-school coaching at Broadlees GC and a number are now academy members. The project has also positively changed how both the pupils and parents perceive golf.
The Bonallack Award is presented to a project that creates a pathway from schools into clubs and membership, and goes to Frinton Golf Club and Coastal Golf Academy, Essex, which has grown its junior membership by 23, to 72 in one year. The club offers a free minibus service to collect pupils; helping 100 pupils to receive coaching, culminating in a Schools Cup for all players. The PGA Pro, Tom Hyde, has embraced the Foundation’s Box of Tricks initiative to keep more juniors engaged and has built a Tri-Golf course at a local primary school. Highlights include: a development squad for the 9-hole course and fun inter-club team competitions, followed by access to the 18-hole course and junior membership; a Tour pass allowing free access to three other golf clubs and competitions; good communication with parents and trips to events such as the BMW PGA Championship.
The Montgomerie Award is presented to a young volunteer who has helped inspire other young people and this year goes to Emily Furniss, of Gaudet Luce Golf Club, Worcestershire.
Emily joined the coaching academy aged 12 and progressed as both a player and volunteer, offering to help coach and becoming Golf Captain at her Senior School. In 2015, Emily was diagnosed with a tumour in her knee and needed surgery but this only made her more determined; while on crutches she attended Pre County training days and club coaching. Emily has joined the Golf Foundation/England Golf’s Young Ambassadors Group, while she continues to help the junior section at Gaudet Luce and County Girls Coaching. Emily’s friendly and patient nature ensures young girls always feel welcome. She also volunteers as a Guide for the Blind Golf Association and will be helping out at the England Golf Disability Championships this year.
This year’s Burroughs Award winner is PGA Coach Darren Game, of Bourne Golf Centre, Lincolnshire. Darren has worked tirelessly to make golf more inclusive in his community and to encourage all abilities of young golfer to work together. He has been running weekly golf sessions at Willoughby School (special school) for the past five years, including an annual trip to Bourne Golf Centre, ensuring they play in School Games GolfSixes with mainstream pupils. The pathway continues with monthly coaching at Bourne GC where eight players with a disability are now academy members. A focus is placed on training young volunteers, who assist him in the golf sessions (one keen volunteer is a wheelchair user). The players who are disabled look up to the sports leaders as role models. Teacher Rebecca Lee said: “If it wasn’t for Darren’s enthusiasm, golf would be something the students at Willoughby School would never experience.”
The Gus Payne Award is presented to the golf club that donates the most money to the Golf Foundation. This award goes to Andrew Kemp who was determined to help young golfers in his year as Club Captain at Beadlow Manor Golf Club (Bedfordshire) by making the Golf Foundation his nominated charity. With a background in youth work, Andrew bought into the Foundation’s strategic aim of ‘Golf for All’ and its wider benefits for young people. He ran a variety of activities including auctions, raffles and a Duke Box night, raising £4,500 for the charity. Andrew invited the Foundation’s CEO Brendon Pyle to his ‘Captain’s Drive-In’ and proudly introduced him to the club’s junior team that had just won the National Junior Team Championships. Andrew is passionate about helping young people; hopefully his example can inspire more captains to think of the Foundation as one of their nominated charities.
Thanks to the 80:20 Charitable Trust and Golf Monthly magazine, 450 ‘Skills for Life’ Trophies have been given to clubs to recognise juniors who demonstrate these values. Each club was asked to nominate its recipient for the Mackenzie Award and this has been extremely popular. The winner – Abhisaran Singh Sohal – was involved in a serious car crash when he was five, which led him to struggle to mix with others. A chance visit to a local golf facility sparked an interest; golf became his passion and by nine he was welcomed by Strawberry Hill GC, London, and became a junior member, taking part in Junior Golf Passport sessions, the focus on Skills for Life helping to develop his game and express his sense of sportsmanship. He now has a handicap of seven, has played for Middlesex, and is Junior Captain. He is always happy to encourage the new players.
Over 500 PGA coaches are at the heart of Golf Foundation projects, so nominations for the Sinclair Award for leading professional are always competitive. Zachery Marsh, of Tonbridge Golf Centre in Kent, is the winner (receiving an ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler). Zachery has a child-centred approach and enjoys teaching Skills for Life. He has worked in 15 schools and introduced over 1,500 youngsters to the sport in the last year. His ability to make the game fun while developing confidence has resonated with many schools. In his nomination, many wrote on his behalf; Academy director Mark Janes said: “He’s just what the game of golf needs at this present time, someone who breaks down the barriers and gets children thinking this game is cool.” Zachery has embraced new ideas like Girls Golf Rocks and sits on the HSBC Golf Roots Coaches Network.
The Laddie Lucas Award celebrates a project that has created more opportunities for girls and this year’s winner is a partnership between Elsham Golf Club and ‘This Girl Golfs’ Project in North Lincolnshire. Elsham is the host club linking to three local secondary schools, with taster sessions provided to 400 girls, followed by a six-week StreetGolf satellite club. Sixty-four girls signed up and 51 completed the course; the grand finale being when the golf club closed its course for a day and ran the first ever ‘Girls Open’ (to be an annual fixture). Some 42 girls took part in a GolfSixes team competition and the Women’s section provided volunteers. Fifteen of the girls joined the new Girls Academy, while eight have become junior members. There has been a cultural change at the golf club with more events and competitions open to girls and women.
The Gallacher Award for a great volunteer goes to Tom Bowen, North Wales Golf Club, whose work has given him new direction after suffering from depression. Tom had been a 4-handicap golfer before he became virtually housebound for two years. On a chance visit to his old golf club he realised that he had been genuinely missed by the staff. Tom offered to help with the new junior programme and was soon helping every day. He was thrilled to pass his PGA Level 1 volunteer coach award and helped deliver coaching sessions in schools and the golf club. Tom is now a county junior organiser, an assistant PGA professional and enrolled on a university course. His fitness has improved having lost three stone in two years. The club says Tom has an “amazing relationship with the juniors and coaching staff” and this links the junior section together so well.
The Sir Henry Cotton Award is the charity’s most prestigious award and is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to junior golf over a sustained period of time. The winner of this award also receives a special grant kindly provided by the Stanley Morrison Charitable Trust and an ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler.
The winner this year is Barry Chapman, junior organiser at Woodall Spa Golf Club for the past 29 years. In that time the junior membership has remained at over 70 each year and it is estimated that he has looked after over 2,000 juniors in his time. Two of his juniors have gone on to play Curtis Cup and Walker Cup golf – Holly Clyburn and Nathan Kimsey.
Barry treats all the juniors the same, giving the newest members just as much time and attention, encouraging all to get involved and enjoy the game he loves.
As a result of his efforts, Barry secured sponsorship of over £30,000 for the junior section while after 29 years he still supports almost every training session, match and social activity.
Woodhall Spa was one of the first 40 golf clubs in the country to test the Golf Foundation’s Box of Tricks initiative, providing invaluable feedback on its impact.
Barry has also been keen to give back to the sport and has run the Adult/Junior Foursomes for the past 11 years, raising over £1,600 for the Golf Foundation.
Barry Chapman’s popularity and impact in growing junior golf is summarised by the words of a youngster and the club’s current Junior Captain, Jake Ball. Jake says: “Barry has been this strong, motivating but really kind presence throughout my time at Woodhall Spa. He has a great sense of humour and appreciates all our jokes, mostly aimed at his strict rules for manners and appearance. He loves playing against us at the Adults versus Juniors competitions and is not adverse to a little gamesmanship to gain an advantage! I can honestly say Barry is a legend and he is much loved by all at our club.”
Find out more about the charity at www.golf-foundation.org
Top picture: 10‘Presidents’ Awards’ were presented by the Golf Foundation’s current President, Sandy Jones