Somerset’s Graham Yates has accepted the nomination to become President Elect of England Golf for 2019 with a view to becoming President in 2020. Graham has been a golf volunteer for 45 years and joined the board of directors of the English Golf Union in 2007.
He played a key role in its merger with the English Women’s Golf Association which created England Golf in 2012, and he continued as a director of the new organisation until 2017. For the last three years he was chairman of the board.
He commented on his new role: “I am very honoured and delighted to have been given this incredible opportunity to serve the game of golf. Golf has been a big part of my life and it has been my privilege to have had the opportunity to offer my services and to work closely with the thousands of volunteers and colleagues who support our game towards its future in all its forms.”
Graham has played golf since he was a boy member at Saltford Golf Club. But his first experiences as a golf volunteer developed in Malawi. It was there that he and his new wife, Hazel, made their home after he joined Standard Chartered Bank in Malawi in 1968. He was with the bank for 25 years, mostly in countries in sub Saharan Africa, including Malawi, Cameroon and The Gambia. He also had a five-year spell as administration manager for the bank’s operation in France.
During all this time abroad, golf and club life were an important part of leisure activities and after first volunteering at Lilongwe Golf Club in 1973, Graham became heavily involved with club committees.
Graham remembers: “Golf came in many different forms. The early days were spent in fairly basic tropical conditions playing to browns not greens, and with fairways not dissimilar, in the dry season, to many golf courses this summer in the UK.
“Notwithstanding the sometimes brutal climate conditions, golf was played with enthusiasm and it was an eye opener to me at the time to realise just how widespread the game was and how varied and different the courses were. This was equally true of the participants and fellow players which ranged from caddies emerging as really good club players, to playing fairly regularly with the President, not of the club, but of the country.”
After Graham took early retirement the Yates family returned to the UK and settled in Somerset. Soon Graham was again persuaded to became involved in club committees, this time at Taunton Vale Golf Club, and in 2000, he was appointed as the Honorary Secretary for the Somerset Golf Union.
Other voluntary committee work followed, with spells on the former English Golf Union’s Championship Committee and the SSS and Handicapping Committee. Graham was elected the Somerset Golf Union President in 2008, and as the South West Group President in 2013.
Graham is a member of Burnham and Berrow Golf Club, the renowned Somerset links course, which has hosted many national and international events. The club will stage the English women’s stroke play championship in 2020, coinciding with Graham’s year as President.
“Burnham and Berrow suits me very well as a genuine mix of the traditional values and etiquette of golf, a very good test of the game, but probably and more importantly as a golf club responding to the changing needs, pressures and reality of golf in the 21st century,” said Graham.
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