The Golf Foundation Presidents’ Awards at Wentworth on Wednesday (23rd of May) celebrated the “fantastic people at the heart of junior golf” – the volunteers and professionals who selflessly give their time to help young people to enjoy the benefits of golf.
Thanks to support from the European Tour, the ceremony was held again this year in Wentworth Club’s elegant Ballroom, where the event’s largest ever audience heard the stories of 10 award winners and their projects – some of whom have been through positive but highly emotional journeys thanks to golf.
The Golf Foundation is the nationally recognised charity that works with national partners to encourage young people to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport. Its HSBC Golf Roots programme reaches 500,000 youngsters a year, creating a pathway from discovering golf in schools and the community to playing regular golf at golf clubs. The charity offers boys and girls the opportunity to enjoy all aspects of the sport with an emphasis on ‘Skills for Life’ learning to support young people as they develop, both on and off the course.
The Presidents’ Awards ceremony was teed up perfectly by Emma Anderson and Ali Jodiyawalla, who are members of the England Young Ambassadors group. Ali and Emma spoke eloquently, while10 ‘Presidents’ Awards’ were presented by the charity’s current President, Sandy Jones. Each award winner was serenaded with an appropriate song by the brilliant Windsor Academy Trust Choir from Halesowen; not only great singers but an academy with a strong golfing pedigree.
Golf Foundation Chairman Stephen Lewis thanked all the charity’s core funders and supporters for backing the charity. He said: “We are hugely grateful to everyone who chooses to support us. Without this help our team wouldn’t be able to make the progress with so many local projects and many of these great award winners wouldn’t be able to express their enthusiasm and passion in helping some of the fantastic young people here today.”
Chief Executive Brendon Pyle talked the audience through the award winners. He added: “We received so many brilliant nominations which shows just how much is being done in golf clubs, schools and communities to encourage youngsters into the game. The people on stage today represent all the fantastic people at the heart of junior golf.”
The 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.
Chapelton Primary School and Broadlees Golf Club’s (Strathaven, Scotland) Inter-Disciplinary Learning Project for its success in creating opportunities for young golfers in its community.
The Bonallack Award
Presented to a project that has helped young people to ‘Start, Learn, and Stay’ in golf.
Coastal Golf Academy at Frinton Golf Club, Essex, for creating a pathway that has resulted in a significant increase in junior membership.
The Montgomerie Award
Presented to a young volunteer, in recognition of his/her time and effort spent supporting junior development.
Emily Furniss, a young volunteer at Gaudet Luce Golf Club in Worcestershire, who enthusiastically supports young golfers to develop in the sport.
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.
This year’s Burroughs Award winner is PGA Coach Darren Game, of Bourne Golf Centre, Lincolnshire. Darren has worked tirelessly to make golf more inclusive in his community and to encourage all abilities of young golfer to work together. He has been running weekly golf sessions at Willoughby School (special school) for the past five years, including an annual trip to Bourne Golf Centre, ensuring they play in School Games GolfSixes with mainstream pupils. The pathway continues with monthly coaching at Bourne GC where eight players with a disability are now academy members. A focus is placed on training young volunteers, who assist him in the golf sessions (one keen volunteer is a wheelchair user). The players who are disabled look up to the sports leaders as role models. Teacher Rebecca Lee said: “If it wasn’t for Darren’s enthusiasm, golf would be something the students at Willoughby School would never experience.”
The Gus Payne Award
Presented to the golf club that donates the most amount of money in support of the Golf Foundation’s activities.
Andrew Kemp and Beadlow Manor Golf Club (Bedfordshire) for the club’s generous donation of £4,500.
The Mackenzie Award
Presented to a project or individual that has successfully integrated Skills for Life into its work with young people.
WINNER: Abhisaran Singh Sohal, from Strawberry Hill Golf Club in London, for demonstrating the personal skills that golf can help foster.
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 also receives an ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler.
Zachery Marsh, from Mark Janes Golf Academy at Tonbridge Golf Centre in Kent, for introducing hundreds of young people to the sport.
The ‘Laddie’ Lucas Award
Presented to a project that has created more opportunities for girls to play golf.
The Laddie Lucas Award celebrates a project that has created more opportunities for girls and this year’s winner is a partnership between Elsham Golf Club and ‘This Girl Golfs’ Project in North Lincolnshire. Elsham is the host club linking to three local secondary schools, with taster sessions provided to 400 girls, followed by a six-week StreetGolf satellite club. Sixty-four girls signed up and 51 completed the course; the grand finale being when the golf club closed its course for a day and ran the first ever ‘Girls Open’ (to be an annual fixture). Some 42 girls took part in a GolfSixes team competition and the Women’s section provided volunteers. Fifteen of the girls joined the new Girls Academy, while eight have become junior members. There has been a cultural change at the golf club with more events and competitions open to girls and women.
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.
Thomas Bowen, who has been a committed volunteer supporting the junior section at North Wales Golf Club.
The Sir Henry Cotton Award
Is the charity’s most prestigious award and is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to junior golf over a sustained period of time. The winner of this award also receives a special grant kindly provided by the Stanley Morrison Charitable Trust and an ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler.
The winner this year is Barry Chapman, junior organiser at Woodall Spa Golf Club for the past 29 years. In that time the junior membership has remained at over 70 each year and it is estimated that he has looked after over 2,000 juniors in his time. Two of his juniors have gone on to play Curtis Cup and Walker Cup golf – Holly Clyburn and Nathan Kimsey.
Barry treats all the juniors the same, giving the newest members just as much time and attention, encouraging all to get involved and enjoy the game he loves.
As a result of his efforts, Barry secured sponsorship of over £30,000 for the junior section while after 29 years he still supports almost every training session, match and social activity.
Woodhall Spa was one of the first 40 golf clubs in the country to test the Golf Foundation’s Box of Tricks initiative, providing invaluable feedback on its impact.
Barry has also been keen to give back to the sport and has run the Adult/Junior Foursomes for the past 11 years, raising over £1,600 for the Golf Foundation.
Barry Chapman’s popularity and impact in growing junior golf is summarised by the words of a youngster and the club’s current Junior Captain, Jake Ball. Jake says: “Barry has been this strong, motivating but really kind presence throughout my time at Woodhall Spa. He has a great sense of humour and appreciates all our jokes, mostly aimed at his strict rules for manners and appearance. He loves playing against us at the Adults versus Juniors competitions and is not adverse to a little gamesmanship to gain an advantage! I can honestly say Barry is a legend and he is much loved by all at our club.”
* Find out more about the charity at www.golf-foundation.org