Major honours were presented to those who have demonstrated their passion for grass roots junior golf: volunteers, PGA Professionals, junior organisers, schoolteachers and local authority officers, during the Golf Foundation President’s Awards on Wednesday 22nd May at Wentworth Club.
Former Golf Foundation President Ken Schofield was a guest of honour and presented each winner with their award in Wentworth Club’s magnificent Ballroom in front of a packed audience.
A number of golf’s biggest names were present to applaud the winners, many of whom are volunteers, and who all support the Foundation’s aim to make the game more accessible to children from all backgrounds and circumstances through its ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme. Each winner has excelled in helping to advance the Golf Foundation’s cause significantly in schools, the communities and golf clubs.
Nine prestigious awards were presented in a ceremony which is now a fixture in the golf industry’s diary. It is held at Wentworth courtesy of Golf Foundation supporter The European Tour and the Wentworth Club, taking place on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship.
Foundation Chief Executive Mike Round said: “One of the things I love about this event is that it brings the whole of golf together to thank and celebrate the work of these unsung heroes. We are here at one of the best tournaments in golf, at one of the best venues in golf, in a room full of the great and good of golf, but this event is all about the foundations of the sport. It’s about acknowledging the efforts of those whose work all too often goes unnoticed.
“It’s great to be able to congratulate the winners today for their achievements. They have all done tremendous work as part of our HSBC Golf Roots programme and I hope this inspires everyone here, and golfers everywhere, to support the Golf Foundation for the good of the game and the next generation of young players. Our winners are doing great things to help protect the future of this fabulous sport.
Mike added: “Being able to watch some of the world’s top golfers before and after our event also makes it a very special day for our guests and we are very grateful to The European Tour for granting us this unique opportunity.”
Golf Foundation Chairman Charles Harrison said: “When this organisation was founded 61 years ago by Sir Henry Cotton supported by Gerald Micklem, the Foundation was more of a grant giving body to schools. In the last 10 years the Foundation has become far more pro-active, developing its own large-scale and successful programme, called HSBC Golf Roots, which reached around a million youngsters last year, training thousands of volunteers and teachers.
“We have suffered funding challenges in recent times and it is vital that we maintain these high levels of support for new young golfers. Successful regional projects are run by great volunteers and professionals, and it is wonderful to celebrate these amazing people today who are doing so much to help the next generation of players. Their work is truly extraordinary.”
The President’s Awards were presented as follows:
The Gus Payne Award is presented to the club that raises the most money for the Golf Foundation’s initiatives and was won by Woburn Golf Club. For many years, Woburn has raised funds by committing to the concept of a certain amount of donation per member, and has demonstrated just how easy and effective this can be, raising £2,320.
The club also offers plenty of junior coaching activity, stages junior events, and is producing some talented young players. Mike Round said of Woburn: “It is one of my favourite venues in Great Britain, not just because of its wonderful clubhouse and stunning courses, and not just because of its commitment to junior golf, but also because it has been so good to the Golf Foundation in so many ways, for so long. We are extremely grateful to the club and its members for their generosity.”
The Bonallack Award for a great schools programme was presented to The Rushcliffe School Sport Partnership in Nottinghamshire, which worked effectively with Edwalton Golf Club and Academy to engage pupils in the School Games and increase junior membership numbers at the golf club.
Delivering more than 30 curricular and extra curricular sessions in primary and secondary schools, PGA Professional Daniel Parkes has built an excellent relationship with the teachers, which led to a successful School Games Tri-Golf competition (supported by ten of Edwalton Golf Club’s senior members) with the winning team progressing to become Nottinghamshire Champions.
Junior membership at the club has more than doubled and a number of youngsters have competed in the Nottinghamshire Union’s ‘Nippers Tour’, enhancing the club’s profile in the county.
Investing in school-based activity has made a significant impact on the club, with greater profits and more family involvement, including new members. And remember, it all started in school!
The Laddie Lucas Award for the best local project went to the Islington Football Development Partnership. Islington has the second least green space in the country, with no golf facilities at all. Children, parents and teachers were wary of of golf. The Partnership, with local council and Golf Foundation support, brought Tri-Golf to 14 primary schools involving 675 pupils, while Golf Xtreme caught the imagination of 128 secondary school girls (54% of all youngsters in the project were from black and minority ethnic groups), while youngsters with learning difficulties also enjoyed a golf experience. Tri-Golf festivals and a summer camp where youngsters visited Trent Park GC and received coaching from PGA Professional Tyran Adams were on offer.
At the event where the Olympic Torch came through Islington, over 100 children played Tri-Golf, while Golf Xtreme thrives at a monthly project at Sobell Leisure Centre, regularly attracting 300 teenagers. Nine coaches have been trained for an initiative which has completely changed local people’s perception of golf and its benefits as a sport.
The Critchley Award for the best major project was awarded to the Surrey HSBC Golf Roots Programme. This county-wide project involved 25 PGA Coaches from 15 different golf facilities.
Supported by a number of trained leaders, the Coaches ran Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme sessions in 90 primary schools and 17 secondary schools. This activity involved 6,300 youngsters, 46% of whom were girls.
Almost 1,000 pupils received follow-on coaching in the clubs and completed Level I of the Junior Golf Passport, while 81 youngsters have already become new junior members as a result of this work.
A star of the show has been Addington Court Golf Club, which welcomed 60% of the children who received school taster sessions back to the club for beginner coaching. The HSBC Golf Roots project is very strong in schools here as part of the School Games, and Surrey’s County Golf Partnership has been an excellent supporter of the Golf Foundation’s aim to reach more youngsters through golf and help instil the Skills for Life benefits of the game.
The Mackenzie Award was introduced to highlight how golf can be used to engage with children and young people and promote the concept of Skills for Life to them. This is the concept that golf is more than just a game – it can be used to develop a range of personal skills and qualities.
This year’s winner was the not-for-profit Off the Bench organisation, based in Lincolnshire.
Off the Bench seeks to promote golf and other sports in exciting ways to engage with young people and support their personal development through positive activities, sports leadership and volunteering opportunities. Their golf project utilises ‘Street Golf’, a flexible and creative Golf Foundation format which is supported by the national organisation, StreetGames.
Mike Round said: “There is a very close match between our Skills for Life agenda and the objectives of Off the Bench. We have been really impressed with how they have fully embraced our initiatives. Giving ownership of the activities to the young people has fundamentally changed their attitude to the sport and has encouraged positive behaviour.”
The Gallacher Award for volunteer of the year was presented to Paul Smith. In a short space of time at Breadsall Priory Golf & Country Club, Paul introduced Novice handicaps, Sunday nine-hole sessions, a Junior Order of Merit, and played a key role in the club attaining GolfMark. He helped to secure for young Derbyshire golfers a Q&A interview with Melissa Reid and arranged Friday evening skills sessions. During 2012, juniors performed well at county level and a number of juniors have played for the men’s and ladies’ scratch teams.
Junior Golfer/Non-Golfer events, Junior Away Days, and Tri-Golf sessions in primary schools are all part of his inspirational activity. Paul promoted life skills when he encouraged the Junior Section to raise money for the Captain’s charity last year.
Mike Round said: “The juniors have developed a sense of belonging to the club and, thanks to Paul’s efforts, they enjoy the benefits of their membership, they play the game following its etiquette and rules, and they always play with smiles on their faces.”
The Sinclair Award for the PGA Professional of the year went to Scott Rusbridge, the full-time coach for the CoastalGolfAcademy in Essex.
Mike Round said: “This is a particularly difficult category in which to select a winner, as there are so many PGA Professionals out there doing incredible work. This gentleman’s enthusiasm, dedication, commitment and breadth of activity are what attracted us to his nomination.”
Scott has been busy with Tri-Golf in schools, and at club level he developed the coaching programmes at Harwich GC, Frinton GC and Millers Barn. Children signed up for six-week courses that followed the Junior Golf Passport structure, and were encouraged to join their club where they had additional lessons and practice sessions.
Scott has enjoyed success as a coach for girl groups (at times using HSBC Golf Roots funding), raising player numbers and supporting the County Academy Programme. To support him further, a minibus was purchased and one of the first outings was to take children to the Essex Under 10’s Championship – a great experience for all involved.
The Burroughs Award is presented to those who support young golfers as they deal with adversity or for golfing progress made by an individual with special needs. This year the award was presented to a young individual. Lewis Eccles is an 11 year boy who is diagnosed with ASD, ADHD and Dyspraxia. The result of this mix of conditions is that he has issues with behaviour, concentration, social interaction, coordination, memory and speech.
Despite six years of difficulty in school with some of the elements of school life, he has excelled in golf, supported by a golfing father who introduced him to the game aged eight, and his brother who also plays.
Lewis very quickly developed his golfing skills which, it was later found, were helped by the nature of the sport – the physical repetition of the golf swing. Repetition is something Lewis likes.
Having learned this and by practising regularly, his balance improved, as did elements of his co-ordination, concentration and confidence. He hero-worships his golf coach who is fantastic at getting the best out of him.
Lewis was lucky enough to be at a school which is fantastic with Special Educational Needs children. Golf brought him a new found ability to interact. He found an interest in reading and learning about his new passion, which developed a whole new set of skills.
The school purchased a Tri-Golf kit and asked Lewis to hold a lunchtime club where he could teach others the basics of golf. His classmates now regularly attend the local driving range on evenings and weekends. They now see Lewis in a new light. His behaviour in structured lessons and activities has improved greatly.
This year has seen him compete in junior golf competitions up and down the country, and has mixed and socialised with many different children of all ages. He has now started Secondary School and new challenges await him but he faces them a little bit better equipped than before.
Mike Round said: “Golf has not been a miracle cure for Lewis. It has, however, given him a focus and a desire which has driven him to learn new skills. Because of his need for routine and repetition, he was able to pick up golf where other sports were impossible. Lewis is an incredible young man who highlights very clearly that golf has the power to change children’s lives.”
The Sir Henry Cotton Award for long-term service to junior golf was presented to Tim Morrison.
The Foundation’s most prestigious award is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to junior golf over a sustained period of time.
Golf Foundation Chief Executive Mike Round said: “This year, I’m so pleased to be able to say that the Sir Henry Cotton Award is going to someone who not only matches the criteria of having made a significant contribution, but also someone who has a personal connection with Sir Henry Cotton himself – in fact Sir Henry Cotton was his Godfather.
“When I was first told about this individual many years ago, I didn’t fully appreciate the scale and scope of the work he did for the Golf Foundation and for junior golf. Since my taking over the role of Chief Executive and having spent a considerable amount of time north of the border, his commitment to the cause of junior golf has become more and more apparent.”
Mike added: “Back in 1995, Tim started running a fundraising event in Scotland assisted by his lovely wife Maggie and with the help of the good folk at Turnberry. Such is his passion for junior golf, that every year he has used his connections inside and outside the sport and has encouraged individuals and organisations to take teams at his events. He has cajoled, persuaded and occasionally twisted arms, but always with a gentle and friendly manner. To date, his event has raised just short of £300,000 – and all of that money has been donated to the Golf Foundation. This contribution has been a fundamental element of our funding for Scotland and many schools and clubs have benefited as a result of the funding he has provided.
“In 2011, the annual event that year had to be abandoned as a result of some of the heaviest rain ever seen in Turnberry but, such is the strength of feeling for our winner, his guests did not seek any sort of refund and he still handed over a donation of £22,000 that year.”
The Stanley Morrison Charitable Trust also sponsors an U16’s junior tournament which attracts a field of around 120 youngsters from across Scotland, and Mr Morrison has supported numerous talented young players with the potential for high performance. He has also been on the committee of the Maybole Junior Golf Initiative which established the MayboleGolfAcademy. This started with a dozen children, but now regularly involves 60 to 70.
Mike Round concluded: “In Tim Morrison we couldn’t have a more deserving winner who carries out his work with such style and generosity to others. We were delighted to present Tim with this award.”
HSBC Golf Roots and the Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org