Annual ceremony celebrates people who have given kids a start in the game of golf
EUROPEAN TOUR pro Nicolas Colsaerts was on-hand to honour some of the ‘heroes of junior golf’ as the Golf Foundation held its annual awards ceremony at the Wentworth Club.
The awards recognise people who have helped to provide young people from all backgrounds and abilities with a way into the game and were given out in front of a packed audience.
Leading the ceremony, Golf Foundation chief executive Mike Round, said: “Every year we organise this event so we can highlight the incredible work of the people at the grass roots who make it possible for children and young people to experience golf and the benefits it has to offer.
“There could not be a better time or place to do this - here at one of the most impressive golf venues in the country. It is worth remembering that the efforts and achievements of our award winners are equally impressive as the incredible ability of the tour golfers, albeit in a different way.
“Without these dedicated, heroes of junior golf, many of golf’s star payers would never find their game, and thousands of other young people would miss the chance to enjoy this great sport.”
In total there were nine awards handed out on the evening, with all of the nominees thoroughly deserving of the prize.
The first award of the night was the Gus Payne award and was presented to Tiverton Golf Club. The Gus Payne award is given to the club that raises the most money for the Golf Foundation’s initiatives, with Tiverton Golf Club having been a great supporter of the Foundation for many years.
Last year, the club donated just over £4,450 and the members’ goodwill is demonstrated annually by their £2 voluntary contribution to the foundation, which is added on to the annual membership subscriptions.
Mike Round said: “Our award winner really ‘gets it’. Tiverton’s members recognise their responsibilities to the sport go way beyond their own junior section. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the committee, the PGA professional and the membership at Tiverton Golf Club for their generous support.”
The Bonallack award recognises the importance of the development of golf in schools and was presented to Chartham Park Golf and Country Club in West Sussex.
The club’s PGA professional Ben Knight was at the heart of the project and understands how critical it is for a golf club to make connections with local schools. During 2013, he gave 1,198 children under the age of 14 a taste of golf at school using Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme, and in the process, promoted fundamental movement skills to complement PE lessons in school, and life skills to help their overall development.
The Laddie Lucas award is presented each year to the best local project and this year it went to Norwood Park Golf Centre in Nottinghamshire.
Richard Strange, the club’s PGA professional, is proactive in the community and boasts great relationships with local schools. The club hosts several initiatives including a dedicated junior handbook with a cover designed by the juniors; ‘Girls Into Golf’ coaching, junior coaching, regular taster sessions for schools and an ‘Open Week’ for new players.
As a result, the junior membership at Norwood Park has increased by over 70% and participation in junior coaching sessions has increased by 95%.
The Critchley award went to the Jersey Golf Development Group as it recognised a project that involves multiple partners working together towards the achievement of a common aim.
Over the past four years, the Jersey group has enabled 6,000 children to receive free Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme coaching in their schools, the community, and at Les Mielles Golf and Country Club.
In 2012, teaching golf was part of the curriculum for 11 schools, and it has been reported that this number increased in 2013.
Yorkshire-based ‘The In Communities Project’ received the Mackenzie award for highlighting how golf can be used to engage with young people and promote the concept of ‘Skills for Life’.
Its team, led by golf and sports coach Andy Watmuff, has worked regularly with low academic achieving teenagers, those with special educational needs, and those who have been excluded from classes.
One of the teachers said: “Over the ten-week period, I witnessed an improvement in their attitudes, coping skills, anger management and ability to focus. This was down to Andy’s patience, empathy, humour, coaching and personal skills.
“Andy has made it possible for a lot of our students to gain a qualification and an experience they would have never accessed if it wasn’t for his ability to coach and educate young people through golf.”
Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club’s Alistair Tait was presented with the Gallacher award for his exceptional volunteer work. Having supported coaching at the club since 2005, he is now Coaching Coordinator of the junior section, seeing numbers rise from 94 to 131 in 2013.
He also secured funding to develop the practice facilities and set out a three-hole mini-course on the practice ground for the younger juniors. Coaching numbers in 2013 were exceptional with 80 children signing up after Easter and a total of nine trained coaches taking regular one-hour sessions.
Mike Davies from Glyn Abbey Golf Club was the winner of the Sinclair award for best PGA professional. He has linked the club with all the local schools and set up a project called ‘20x20’ that offers free coaching to children of all abilities and gives them the chance to join the club through one of many membership categories he has helped to develop.
The Burroughs Award was presented to Dan Leins, leader of the Kick and Swing project, for his efforts made to improve access for those with special needs.
His project has been running for the past four years and creates fun coaching with a golf and football mix for pupils of two local special needs schools and focused departments from other schools.
The final award of the evening, the Sir Henry Cotton Award, was presented to Phillip Woodcock from Scarborough North Cliff Golf Club. He received a grant of £1,000 from Golf Foundation supporter, The Stanley Morrison Charitable Trust and, for his significant contribution to junior golf over a sustained period of time.
He joined the club at the age of 14 in 1968 and has been in the post of Junior Organiser for over 30 years.
He helped grow the junior section from its small beginnings through his two-hour coaching sessions on a Monday night held over the 26 weeks of warmer weather.