Ordinary people with big hearts are the lifeblood of junior golf. Many such people, volunteers, coaches and administrators, were gathered for the Golf Foundation’s annual awards, which took place during the Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters at the Marriott Forest of Arden.
The President of the junior golf charity, Sir Michael Bonallack, made the presentations to a packed assembly that included the European Tour’s George O‘Grady and the PGA’s Sandy Jones, along with members of the golf industry, the media, the many supporters of the Golf Foundation, and also its team of workers who are committed to spreading the word about what the charity can offer junior golfers.
There were seven awards in all.
The Gus Payne Trophy is presented to the club that raises the most money for the Golf Foundation and its important junior golf initiatives. This year the award went to West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey after members raised £3,176. The money will be a significant boost for junior golf and is just one donation of the many from golf clubs all around Great Britain.
The Gallacher Award for the best volunteer was presented to David Franklin, Junior Organiser at Epsom Golf Club in Surrey. Mr Franklin was selected for his efforts to expand junior golf at Epsom, his work with the local authority, his securing of a lottery grant of £5,000, his help to initiate Tri-Golf activity in numerous local schools, his recruiting of many volunteers to help juniors, the organising of drop-in sessions and even the production of a junior handbook.
On announcing the award, the Foundation’s Chief Executive Mike Round said: “Choosing the winner of the Gallacher Award is incredibly difficult because there are so many volunteers in golf and every single one of them is making a valuable contribution to the sport – every one of them is making things happen in their local area.
“The thing that makes this year’s winner stand out is the way he has acknowledged and embraced the changes taking place in the sport. He has recognised the need to change with the times and has been instrumental in transforming the thinking at his club from that of a traditional private members‘ club to that of a modern, energised community facility.”
The Critchley Award is given to the best major partnership of the year, and this year the award goes to all the people involved in the Wiltshire Junior Golf Project. This initiative brought together the Men’s County Union, the Ladies‘ County Association, School Sports Partnerships, Specialist Sports Colleges, Local Authorities, PGA professionals, volunteers and the regional officers of the Golf Foundation and ELGA. The results included stronger county links, training to help 72 more adults carry out Tri-Golf projects in 49 schools (helping 2,700 children), the teaching of hundreds of juniors through subsidised coaching at clubs, and the training of volunteers to become Junior Golf Leaders.
The Laddie Lucas Award for the best local project was won by Rednall Hill Junior School in Birmingham, for its startling and innovative commitment to bringing golf to its young pupils. After getting involved with Tri-Golf in 2000, using the game to teach maths and thinking nothing of bringing five coach-loads of 270 children to a Golf Foundation event, it seemed unlikely the school could up its game any further. But it did!
Mike Round explained, “With the help of Birmingham City Council they built their own Tri-Golf golf course within the school grounds. A state school with its own golf course. We believe it to be the first of its kind in the British Isles.” Creating the course involved planting shrubs, cutting the fairways and greens and constructing special tees. The course, with its tree-lined fairways, bunkers and rough, has all the qualities of the adult game. Mike added, “The children now have the option of playing a few holes at lunchtime. They can book tee times, loan clubs, mark cards and compete in competitions. In addition, the school is further developing the use of golf as a backdrop for learning across the curriculum.”
The Sinclair Award, presented to the best PGA Professional, was won by the popular Tony Howarth, Merseyside’s Golf Development Officer. Tony has been involved with a variety of projects and initiatives including the Wirral Schools Project, the Southport Seafront Classic, a Junior Short Course Championship, the English Seniors Open Junior Knock-out Competition, English Seniors Open Coaching Clinics, the Liverpool Community Games, the Curtis Cup, the River Festival and the Southport Air Show. The total number of children introduced to golf through all this activity adds up to a stunning 5,175. But it was revealed during the awards that Tony is also involved in many other junior golf initiatives, not least pre-match Tri-Golf sessions at Bolton Wanderers Football Club.
The Burroughs Award for a special needs initiative deservedly went to the members of Shirley Golf Club in the Midlands. Last year, under the heading ‘Golf for Disabled Children‘, the club organised a series of one-hour coaching sessions, which involved 150 disabled children from 12 local special schools. The weekly sessions included the use of Tri-Golf equipment with sufferers of cerebral palsy, autism and severe learning difficulties.
Coaching and supervision is provided by the club’s PGA Professional, who is assisted by around 30 volunteer members. They also have a specially adapted golf buggy for use by wheelchair-bound children. A teacher from one of the schools involved said: “Golf offers far more to our youngsters than we ever realised.” One of the volunteers said: “Far from being a chore, helping on the day was tremendously rewarding. The joy on the faces of the children was a privilege to share in.”
Finally, this year’s Sir Henry Cotton Award (Meritorious Service) was won by John Collins, of Brynhill Golf Club, South Glamorgan. For 20 years John has been the Junior Organiser at Brynhill Golf Club and in that time he’s introduced literally hundreds of children to the sport. In addition to his club role, he’s been highly active within the Glamorgan County Golf Union for around 15 years as a league secretary and honorary junior secretary.
At a national level, he was one of the small team of pioneering individuals in 1995 who produced the original junior golf development manual titled ‘A guide to Clubs on Junior Golf in Wales‘, and he continues to be a strong supporter of the Golf Development Wales team.
Mike Round said, “It would not be an overstatement to say that a significant amount of Brynhill’s success, Glamorgan’s success and Welsh junior golf’s success, is down to John’s enthusiasm and commitment.”
Golf Foundation www.golf-foundation.org
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