Inspirational junior organisers, volunteers, schoolteachers and PGA professionals were celebrated at Wentworth last week, as some of the heroes of grass roots junior golf received the annual Golf Foundation President’s Awards.
While the biggest names in golf warmed up for this year’s BMW PGA Championship out on the course, in Wentworth’s tented village another group of hard-working and talented individuals were gaining recognition for their achievements in helping the Golf Foundation to bring more youngsters into golf.
A packed crowd of VIP guests heard eight remarkable stories of commitment to junior golf in 2007 as Golf Foundation president Ken Schofield CBE presented the awards.
Mike Round, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said, “Golf has so much to offer young people, from making friends to giving them skills for life. Working with the national golf partnerships, we are striving to introduce the sport to as many youngsters as possible from all backgrounds and abilities.
“To make this happen, the Golf Foundation relies heavily on the teachers, club volunteers, PGA professionals and development officers all working together to run innovative and exciting junior programmes. Their enthusiasm and dedication is fantastic and we were celebrating some of the best examples of their work at Wentworth.”
Eight President’s Awards were presented at Wentworth. These were as follows:
• The Gus Payne Trophy is awarded to the club that raises the most money for the Golf Foundation’s golf initiatives. For 2007, the award went to The Worcestershire Golf Club, which donated a superb £3,376 to help grass roots golf funding.
• The Sinclair Award, for the PGA professional who has carried out junior development work of real excellence, went to Duncan Burl, who operates at Stowmarket Golf Centre in Suffolk. Duncan has been at the forefront of junior golf in his area. Working with local and county golf partnerships, he has held Tri-Golf sessions in primary schools, hosted a Tri-Golf festival and invited the local schools up to the Stowmarket Golf Centre, where he guides youngsters through the Foundation’s Junior Golf Passport. Duncan has worked with disaffected young people from the local high school using the sport to promote positive social messages, and also promoted its health benefits at public events.
• The Gallacher Award for the volunteer of the year was presented to Mike Hart, the first chairman of the Essex County Golf Partnership. Mike played a key role in setting up this proactive partnership that helps juniors. He has been a great supporter of the Golf Foundation and has always spread the word about its initiatives to schools, clubs, and PGA professionals. Within the clubs, he has promoted the Junior Golf Passport and at county level has run the Essex U12s boys team. The word “inspiration” is often used to describe Mike’s impact on young and adult golfers.
• The Bonallack Award for a great school programme was presented to the Allerdale School Sport Partnership in Cumbria. The Golf Foundation is now working with well over 300 school sport partnerships in England and similar organisations in Scotland and Wales, introducing golf to in excess of 750,000 children across Great Britain. The Allerdale partnership is one of the real stars of this framework. Covering a large rural area in Cumbria, the partnership made it possible for a high number of youngsters to experience golf for the first time. Over half of the 60 primary schools in the partnership now have their own Tri-Golf bag and 60 teachers have been trained as Tri-Golf Activators. Of the nine secondary schools, five have their own Golf Xtreme equipment and a number of teachers have attended the Golf Xtreme workshop.
• The Laddie Lucas Award for the best local initiative went to the St Helens Golf Project. Here, the school sport partnership has recently embraced golf as a new sport and it enjoys ever-stronger links with the local golf club, Eccleston Park. The club professional has delivered golf sessions in the 12 primary schools and two secondary schools in the area and even went into the assemblies to promote a Tri-Golf festival. The golf club closed two holes to enable a family fun day to take place, and by welcoming youngsters wholeheartedly, the committee has helped to create a 600% increase in the number of junior members. A piece of land has been earmarked for a junior-only practice area and three new driving bays have been introduced specifically to assist with the visits by school groups. To cap all this, 10 retired members and 10 pupils from a local college piloted the new Junior Golf Leaders Award and have gone on to give over 750 hours of their time as volunteers.
• The Critchley Award for the best major project was presented to the South Birmingham Development Group. This group reached an estimated 3,700 children through 45 primary and secondary schools and community groups. By the end of December, six schools in the area had built their own Tri-Golf courses and had established their own Tri-Golf clubs, giving youngsters the opportunity to play nine holes of golf during their lunchtime! Free green fees for children aged under 11 and initiatives encouraging parental involvement have been introduced at municipal courses. The project included work with a school that caters for pupils with a range of special educational needs and a local charity that works with disabled youngsters. There was also an active involvement with the Golf Foundation’s inner city project – Golf Roots – thereby reaching children from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
• The Burroughs Award, for an individual or group who has made particular progress in golf in the face of adversity, was presented to Elmwood College in Scotland. This centre of excellence for disability has introduced the sport to primary school children and college students who had no previous experience of the sport. There are weekly coaching sessions for young children. Young people with learning difficulties can specialise in golf and are given support so that they can progress onto the mainstream NC Golf Studies course at the college. At the major competition end of disability golf, talented students can access coaching from the Special Olympics Head Coach and top quality facilities, with a number of students having gone on to win medals for GB at the Special Olympics.
• The Sir Henry Cotton Award for meritorious service to junior golf was won by David and Margo Horsburgh. David has been a junior organiser for three golf clubs. At county level, the couple became involved with the Norfolk Schools’ Golf Association at its inception in 1995 where David has been the Championship Referee and Competitions’ Organiser since the start, and Margo has been the Honorary Secretary for the last 10 years. Husband and wife have both served for eight years on the National Executive Committee of the English Schools’ Golf Association. David has also been on the EGU’s Tournament Panel for the last five years and Margo for the last two. Over the years, they have been involved in assisting the Golf Foundation with the Age Group Championship and refereeing at the Faldo Series events. In his presentation speech, Mike Round spoke of his “huge admiration for what they have done for junior golf over the years”.
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