A PGA pro who went back to school to deliver golf to hundreds of youngsters has come top of the class by winning a prestigious national award at the BMW PGA Championship.
Matthew Conner from Scarborough’s Snainton Golf Centre received the Golf Foundation’s Sinclair Award from former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher at its annual awards ceremony at Wentworth on the eve of the European Tour’s flagship event.
Conner, who began giving free lessons in school off his own back, pipped a record number of nominations for the accolade in which the leading golf charity salutes an outstanding achievement by a PGA professional.
The 29-year-old, who is a former high jump champion and talented rugby player, also took the opportunity to meet up with old golfing pal Jonathan Lupton from Close House Golf Club, Newcastle, who is one of the 10 PGA pros taking part in the €4,500,000 event.
The pair played amateur golf all over the world including South Africa. But with Lupton looking on it was Conner’s time to take the spotlight in recognition of his phenomenal contribution to golf.
Golf Foundation chief executive Mike Round reeled off a list of his achievements including working with both the Scarborough and Filey and Ryedale and Whitby School Sport Partnerships which has helped him take golf to 70 primary and 10 secondary schools.
In addition he has worked with disabled children and run regular coaching and competitions for juniors.
Conner, a past PGA Rookie of the Year, freely admits to being absolutely passionate about coaching which prompted his decision to bring golf to local schools.
“I bought myself some Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme equipment and then just phoned up some local schools and asked if they wanted some free coaching,” he said. “At first I think they might have been a little reluctant but all the kids were so enthusiastic that it’s really taken off especially since School Sports Partnership got involved. As a coach as well as improving players in terms of technique I just want to inspire other people to play golf.”
And Conner says there’s no great secret to his approach. “I just try and make the learning as fun and relaxed as possible.”
Round added: “This award shows how important PGA pros are to the success of the many Golf Foundation projects in the local community.”