Many of those with a passion for junior golf development and protecting the future of the game are gathering for the Golf Foundation’s annual awards, taking place during the Quinn Direct British Masters at the De Vere Belfry.
Each year the Golf Foundation - the charity committed to making golf accessible for young people, presents awards to junior volunteers, sports officers, PGA professionals, school teachers and administrators who have excelled in working towards this cause.
The outgoing President of the Foundation, Sir Michael Bonallack, is presenting the awards for the year 2005 on Thursday (11th May) in front of a packed assembly of guests from all areas of the world of golf, including the European Tour, the national golf partnerships and associations, the golf industry, and the media. Invited Golf Foundation supporters will use the occasion to catch up with the Foundation’s team of development workers, who have helped the award winners and may other friends of junior golf in their endeavours throughout the year.
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “No matter how good a system and structure you have for any sport, you won’t create as many champions or as wide a body of those who love playing the game without people who are prepared to sacrifice an awful lot of time and energy encouraging youngsters. These mentors are absolutely vital. Often offering their experience for free and turning up to help young golfers in all weathers, year after year, these people are the lifeblood of the sport and our annual awards serve to highlight and reward all this hard work.”
There are eight awards in all, including the Bonallack Award, a new award presented by Sir Michael to mark the end of his five-year tenure as President of the Foundation. This is his last official duty, and he is succeeded on the day by new President, Ken Schofield CBE, former Executive Director of the European Tour.
The awards presented are as follows:
The Gus Payne Trophy is presented to the club that raises the most money for the Golf Foundation and its important junior golf initiatives. For 2005, the award went to Woburn Golf and Country Club for raising £4,626 through a unique money-raising members’ tournament, adding £1 to members’ subscriptions and a generous donation from the Ladies’ Section of the club.
The Gallacher Award for the volunteer of the year was presented to Mrs Ann Hunter for the remarkable work she has done to develop girls’ golf at Monifieth Golf Club in Scotland. Ann’s tireless efforts resulted in an explosion of activity in the girls’ section of the club, with a number achieving competitive success and representative honours, while the girls’ team beat the boys in the first ever such match at the club!
The Critchley Award is given to the best major partnership of the year for grass roots golf, and this year the award goes to The Urdd. The Urdd is the Welsh Language Youth Movement and the award has been given for its work in providing golf opportunities for youngsters across Wales, including an increase in girl membership at clubs in one area of 60 per cent.
The new Bonallack Award is presented to a school or school sports partnership that has developed a strong junior development project for pupils. The first winner is Brooksbank School Sports College, in Halifax, for establishing a thriving partnership between local schools and golf clubs. Around 900 children from as young as five played Tri-Golf in primary schools and a number of golf clubs opened their doors to welcome many more junior members.
The Laddie Lucas Award for the best local project is presented to a group that creates access opportunities within a particular facility or area. This award was won by the Merthyr Tydfil 3G’s Development Trust for the way it has used golf to engage with young children in what is acknowledged as an economically deprived area. This project has shown how golf can make a real difference to young children.
The Sinclair Award, presented to the best PGA Professional, was won by Barry Sandry, of Broome Manor Golf Complex in Swindon. Barry is a junior golf marvel and the club’s reputation for encouraging junior players cannot be bettered by any club. It is a Golf Foundation official Starter Centre which performs outreach work using Tri-Golf, and structured learning at the club using the Junior Golf Passport. Apart from creating a real buzz for golf in this area of the town, Barry also assisted with the successful Golf Foundation Golf Roots project in Swindon.
The Burroughs Award, for an individual who has made particular progress in golf in the face of adversity, went to Johnnie Hickling. Johnnie, aged nine, from Pembrokeshire, wins for his determination to participate in the sport and his ability to play his best golf while suffering from Aspbergers, dyspraxia and learning difficulties.
Finally, this year’s Sir Henry Cotton Award for meritorious service to junior golf over a sustained period of time was won by Mrs Mary Vine. Mary has contributed to junior golf in Durham for more than 40 years and has worked tirelessly establishing and developing opportunities for youngsters, particularly girls, raising a significant amount of money to fund this work.