Golf Foundation Awards at Wentworth celebrate “dedication, innovation and inspiration” in junior golfThe Golf Foundation staged its Presidents’ Awards at Wentworth on Wednesday (18th of September), celebrating the “inspiring” volunteers and professionals who through their passion and hard work are helping this national charity to change the lives of young people by introducing them to golf.
(Photo: 2019 Awards Winners, courtesy of Getty Images)
Thanks to the European Tour and Wentworth Club, the ceremony was held again in Wentworth’s elegant Ballroom, where a packed audience of 200 invited guests heard the stories of groundbreaking golf projects and unique individuals in junior golf. After being welcomed onto the stage by Bishopsgate School Choir (which has a thriving golf programme in Surrey), Chairman of the Golf Foundation Stephen Lewis congratulated all of the prize winners for their “fantastic support in giving their time for others”. Stephen also thanked the core funders for supporting this child-centred charity, making reference to The R&A, who in the past year has committed to support the Foundation over the next four years.
Golf Foundation CEO Brendon Pyle then told the audience: “In 1952, Sir Henry Cotton, Raymond Oppenheimer and Gerald Micklem created the Golf Foundation to make golf more accessible to young people. They recognised the wider value of the sport and how it can bring out the best in young people. Today is a celebration of the fantastic work that is being done to change the lives of young people through an introduction to golf and to develop a life-long love of the sport. You will hear from dedicated volunteers, innovative PGA Coaches and the committed young players themselves who are inspiring their peers and the next generation.”
This year the awards were expertly led by Channel 4 television presenter Kerr Drummond, who recently agreed to become an Ambassador for the charity in the same year that Ladies European Tour players Felicity Johnson and Meghan MacLaren (currently competing in France) joined the charity, as did European Tour favourite Graeme Storm, who was also present at Wentworth to celebrate the prize winners and hand over the trophies.
Kerr Drummond said: “I actually remember playing in the Golf Foundation’s junior championships… so when I heard about some of the great work that the Golf Foundation was doing to make the game more accessible to youngsters of all backgrounds, I thought ‘I’d really like to be a part of that’. In my opinion, the game of golf has the ability to improve lives. It’s fantastic for both your physical and mental health. I honestly believe that I wouldn’t have achieved nearly as much as I have in life if it wasn’t for golf. So, in my opinion, it’s very important that this amazing game we love is available to all, not just the lucky few whose parents or grandparents introduce them to the game.”
Graeme Storm said: “I have really enjoyed giving something back to the sport by being welcomed into many schools in the North East; introducing hundreds of youngsters to golf with the Golf Foundation. We have been coaching these boys and girls and then encouraging many to try golf with the support of local golf clubs. It is great to see the benefits being made in the community and in the lives of the youngsters themselves.”
Graeme then presented all the trophies except one: the ‘Laddie’ Lucas Award for a strong girls project was presented by special guest, social media influencer and champion of girls golf, The Jazzy Golfer, who, after playing in the BMW PGA Pro-Am on the Wentworth course, kindly hot-footed to the clubhouse to join the proceedings, much appreciated by the whole audience.
Other special guests on the stage included Archie Qualtrough, a 13-year-old member of Woodhall Spa Golf Club, who received an England Golf Young Ambassadors ‘Hero’s Handshake’ this summer, in recognition of his tireless work in raising money for charity. Archie came on stage with the remarkable PGA Professional Luke Willett. Luke, known as The Iron Golfer and based at Hampstead Golf Club, is soon embarking on a gruelling 800-mile bike ride around all 14 Open Championship venues and playing them all in 10 days, all to raise money for the Golf Foundation.
The 10 Presidents’ Awards included:
The Critchley Award
Presented to a project that has taken golf into the community and made the sport available to any young person.
WINNER: Addington Court Golf Centre, Croydon, for its success in creating opportunities for young golfers and developing junior players, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds or with disabilities.
The Bonallack Award
Presented to a project that has helped young people to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in golf.
WINNER: Overstone Park GC in Northamptonshire, for creating a successful scholarship programme that has resulted in a significant increase in junior membership at the golf facility.
The Montgomerie Award
Presented to a young volunteer(s), in recognition of their time and effort spent supporting junior development.
WINNER: Katie Amos and Ben Lavender: young volunteers at Northampton GC, who have both committed a great deal of time and enthusiasm to help grow their junior section.
The Burroughs Award
Presented to an individual who has made particular progress in golf in the face of adversity or a project that has made efforts to create opportunities for those with special needs.
WINNER: Tickenham GC, near Bristol, in recognition of the club’s considerable success in encouraging young people with disabilities, particularly autism, to enjoy golf.
The Gus Payne Award
Presented to the golf club that donates the most amount of money in support of the Golf Foundation’s activities.
WINNER: Walton Heath Golf Club, Surrey, for its generous contribution of £1,894.
The Sinclair Award
Presented to a PGA Professional who, as a direct result of his/her efforts, has made a significant impact in the development of grass roots junior golf. The winner receives an ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler.
WINNER: Iain Fulton, PGA Professional at Belton Woods Golf Club, for being instrumental in developing junior golf in South Lincolnshire and achieving a significant increase in junior members.
The Mackenzie Award
Presented to one of the charity’s Skills for Life Trophy winners.
WINNER: Leah Gray, for her dedication and passion in in supporting other juniors at Toft Hotel Golf Club and Bourne Golf Academy in Lincolnshire, and two-times winner of the Skills for Life trophy at her club.
The Gallacher Award
Presented to a volunteer who, as a direct result of his/her efforts, has made a significant impact in the development of grass roots junior golf.
WINNER: Steven Carlisle, who has been a committed Junior Organiser, supporting the junior section at Garforth Golf Club, Leeds.
The ‘Laddie’ Lucas Award
Presented to a project that has created more opportunities for girls to play golf.
WINNER: Sally Hinton-Lewis and Close House Golf Club, Tyne and Wear, for introducing more beginner girls into golf via the Girls Golf Rocks Programme.
The Sir Henry Cotton Award
Presented to an individual who has demonstrated meritorious service to junior golf for a sustained period. The winner of this award will receive a grant kindly provided by the Stanley Morrison Trust and an ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler.
WINNER: PGA Professional Ivan Oliver, who has delivered an outstanding level of golf provision across East Riding and North Yorkshire for many years.