It was definitely a happy holiday for Gary Wolstenholme when he was named in the New Year Honours List. The England international was awarded the MBE for services to sport.
“It’s a great honour and I’m very proud,” he said. “I received a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office some three weeks ago and the biggest problem was not being able to tell anyone. It was burning a hole in my pocket so to speak.
“This means everything to me. It salutes the sacrifices I’ve made to the game over the past 20 years but this is not just for me. It is also for those people who have helped me achieve what I have. Those at my club Kilworth Springs, those who have coached me over the years, the people who helped me when I was in Bristol, and especially my mother without whom I wouldn’t have achieved anything.”
Wolstenholme has been at the pinnacle of the men’s amateur game for three decades. He made his full England debut in the 1988 Home Internationals and has played annually ever since. He has also played regularly against France and Spain and in the European Men’s Team Championships, making overall 199 appearances for his country.
He has been a member of the past six GB&I Walker Cups, four times on the winning side, as well as three St Andrews Trophies and three Eisenhower Trophies for England and GB&I, once as a winner.
“I’ve been playing golf for over 40 years, having started when I was four,” he says. “Although I’m 46 years old I feel I’m 46 years young. I am still very ambitious and want to achieve even more in the game. A seventh Walker Cup would be high on the list.”
Wolstenholme will receive his MBE at an investiture at Buckingham Palace, he hopes from the Queen, some time over the coming months. “I’ve been to the Palace with the Walker Cup team but I’ve yet to meet the Queen. So that would be a thrill,” he adds.
Victorious Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam will be taking no chances over his visit to Buckingham Palace this time after being awarded an OBE.
Woosnam, who previously won an MBE, captained Europe to a record third straight victory at the K Club in September, said, “When I got my MBE I almost missed it. Traffic problems meant we were late and if it wasn‘t for some guy on the gate recognising me and letting me in, I wouldn‘t have made it. I think this time we‘ll go down the night before!
“It’s great. To have an MBE and to go up to an OBE is fantastic. I‘m over the moon. The Ryder Cup was a fantastic event and is always going to be the pinnacle of my career but to get an honour like this on top of it is brilliant.”
New Year Honours List 2007 www.honours.gov.uk/lists/2007honours.aspx