National charity the Golf Foundation has thanked the European Tour for helping to create a “wonderful spirit” in which to promote junior golf at last week’s BMW PGA Championship.
The European Tour provided a purpose-built junior activity stand in the Spectator Village at Wentworth, as part of its #GolfForGood community ethos. This allowed the Golf Foundation and its partner England Golf to showcase all the benefits of golf to visiting families and also school groups over five days of fun and energetic golf games.
The Golf Foundation presented ‘Golfway’, the lively and easy-to-learn golf format that is being launched into schools all over the country to engage with young people from all backgrounds. This schools initiative is backed by The R&A and is a cornerstone of the charity’s HSBC Golf Roots programme that aims to reach two million children in 7,500 schools in the UK over the next five years.
Supporting this activity was the Golf Foundation’s Ambassador Nicola Bennett, who led some high energy Golfway games with children from Moreton School in Wolverhampton, and was interviewed by the European Tour about the charity’s message that golf is for everyone, for children of all backgrounds and abilities. Six school and community groups were made to feel especially welcome, including Enfield Grammar School, Bishopsgate School in Egham and Claydon High School in Ipswich.
Sky Sports Golf presenter John E Morgan and social influencer The Jazzy Golfer starred on the stand as they took part in against-the-clock challenges to the excitement of watching children. Other attractions included simulated golf games courtesy of virtual golf specialists Awesome Golf, where conventional golf targets and bunkers were replaced with shark-infested waters.
As part of the week, the Golf Foundation presented two unique awards at Wentworth, with the support of the European Tour.
The Spirit of Golf Award is given to a world golfer who has inspired many new young players to take up the sport by the way they play the game. This year it was presented to Thomas Bjorn.
Apart from his great playing career and his leading Europe to Ryder Cup victory in 2018, in the summer of 2020 during Covid-19, Thomas embarked with limited training on a gruelling four-day, 210km hike from Wentworth to Wales – raising £40,000 to support young people, shared equally through the Golf Foundation and UNICEF.
The charity’s next presentation was the inaugural Dinah Oxley Spirit of Golf Award, for a junior golfer who has made a strong contribution to golf and their community.
It is made in honour of the generous legacy donation made to the charity by Dinah Oxley, one of the finest amateur golfers this country has ever produced.
The first winner was Tom Paterson of The Cave Hotel and Golf Resort in Kent, who was delighted to receive his award from Thomas Bjorn himself. Tom, aged 15, has been a huge help to all at his club, including assisting The PGA Professional with coaching the younger juniors, leading the club’s golf team with inspirational team talks, giving free lessons in a local primary school and raising money for the charity MIND through a lockdown golf challenge last year.
Stephen Lewis, Chairman of the Golf Foundation, said: “This joint presentation was all conducted in a wonderful spirit at Wentworth. Thomas and Tom are both great ambassadors for all that is good in golf. We were also delighted that members of Dinah Oxley’s family were able to attend these awards. Dinah Oxley left a highly generous legacy donation to our charity and we know that she cared passionately about encouraging young golfers to play the game, which is what this week at Wentworth is all about for our charity team. I cannot thank the European Tour enough for their support this week in enabling the Golf Foundation to demonstrate its work at such a prestigious event.”
On the junior stand in the Spectator Village, the Golf Foundation and England Golf teams were able to talk with visiting families about how their children could enjoy a start in golf.
As well as promoting the sport as a family activity and signposting the many and varied benefits of golf club membership, England Golf also showcased scoring input for handicap purposes on the ‘My England Golf’ app and the iGolf scheme which provides an official handicap index to independent golfers of all ages.
Visitors to the Golf Foundation/England Golf area also had the chance to win an adidas hoodie from Ryder Cup star Tyrrell Hatton – a former England Golf amateur international and inspiration to the next generation of English golfers.
One of the highlights on the stand was provided via technological fun by virtual golf specialists Awesome Golf. Awesome Golf’s highly accessible Super Splash and Nearest the Pin games were a huge hit, with children teeing up one shot every minute for the duration of the tournament. Even the youngest player, three-year-old Felix, was able to successfully splash his way into the shark infested pool, to the delight of he and his family (www.awesome-golf.com).