European Tour star Ross Fisher, BBC commentator and former European Tour player Ken Brown and leading LET players Rebecca Hudson and Felicity Johnson all played energetic Tri-Golf games with local youngsters in the junior golf centre - provided by the European Tour - in Wentworth Club's tented village to mark the occasion.
Golf Roots is the new overarching name for all national initiatives run by leading golf charity the Golf Foundation. Golf Roots develops playing and personal skills amongst thousands of young people, aiming to reach one million boys and girls a year by 2013.
Ross Fisher led a team of youngsters in a game of Tri-Golf, the fun-packed golf activity. He clearly relished the contest and scored heavily! Ross said: "This was great fun and it was very enjoyable to see the youngsters get so much out of their Tri-Golf. It's a really good start for them."
Following these exploits, Ken Brown, Felicity Johnson and Rebecca Hudson joined the celebration. All three - along with Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis - have become Golf Roots Ambassadors in support of a project that aims to make golf accessible to youngsters from all social backgrounds and circumstances, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Johnson and Hudson led one team of youngsters, while Ken Brown was joined by young golf volunteer from Suffolk Danni Lee to lead a second team. For the final team, up stepped two more professionals, Craig Shave and Jon Lupton. Craig and Jon had the distinction of qualifying for the BMW PGA Championship through PGA events last year. Both men combine tournament play with PGA coaching and both support the Golf Foundation at a local level, teaching golf in schools and then encouraging youngsters towards club activity. As both have played Tri-Golf before perhaps it was no surprise they won the contest and the medals!
Ken Brown said: "Golf is a great game to play, from being a youngster all through your life. The Golf Foundation team is making great strides to open the game up to more boys and girls and we should all get behind Golf Roots to make this happen."
Rebecca Hudson said: "When I first played golf, without the support of my junior organiser Fred Sumner and the Golf Foundation I doubt that I would of had the start in golf. I'm happy if I can put something back and help young girls to see golf as a good sport to play, and that's true of all Ladies European Tour players. Felicity and I really enjoyed this golf challenge and to be a Golf Roots Ambassador is a great feeling."
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: "I think Ross, Ken, Rebecca, Felicity, Craig and Jon have really helped to advance the cause of Golf Roots here today.
"To have a leading European Tour professional inspiring the youngsters, a much-loved BBC commentator and two of the players who are driving women's golf forwards in Britain is fantastic. It was also great to welcome Craig and Jon who are two PGA professionals who have been instrumental in our Golf Roots work in the regions. We are delighted they are playing in the championship. Finally, I'd like to thank the European Tour for providing us with this junior golf centre for the week at Wentworth, which we are operating on behalf of the England Golf Partnership."
The Golf Foundation has a proven track record in increasing the level of golf in schools and plays a major role in linking these schools to golf clubs and driving ranges to increase junior participation rates in support of the national golf partnerships of England, Scotland and Wales.
The Girls Allowed project in Suffolk were the winners of the Laddie Lucas Award and were at the event to pick up their prize. This scheme encourages girls into golf through a sociable club based at Stowmarket Golf Centre, which is run with young women acting as mentors. Guided by PGA Professional Duncan Burl, 20 girls new to golf enjoyed the delights of the sport in their own club which not only focused on introducing the basics of the game in a safe and friendly environment, but also put an emphasis on fun and the social aspects of the sport. Government 'Sport Unlimited' funding is used for golf teaching in schools before follow-on opportunities at the club.