The Golf Foundation Presidents’ Awards at Wentworth on Wednesday (25th May) celebrated the “incredible work” of volunteers and professionals in offering their time and commitment to help young people to enjoy all the benefits of golf.

Thanks to support from The European Tour, the ceremony was held in Wentworth Club’s elegant Ballroom, where the event’s largest ever audience heard the stories of ten award winners and their projects, which all help to develop the golfers and golf stars of the future.

The Golf Foundation is a 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 enjoying regular golf at golf clubs and driving ranges.

As a charity the Golf Foundation relies completely on the exceptional efforts of hundreds of junior organisers and ‘young leaders’ who mentor children new to golf, hundreds of PGA Pros who take the game into schools and welcome children back for club coaching, and the many families whose youngsters are discovering the game. In addition, the Foundation has trained a great many enthusiastic teachers who have embraced golf as a sport as part of the school curriculum.

(Getty Images)

The Presidents’ Awards ceremony was teed up perfectly by Ali Jodiyawalla, a 17 year-old from Birmingham who won the 2015 Gallacher Award for Best Volunteer. After being a hit with the audience last year and his continued excellent support of younger golfers at Hatchford Brook Golf Centre in Solihull, Ali was given the honour of opening this year’s awards – to much applause – as a symbol of all that is good about the junior game.

The Golf Foundation’s new President, Sandy Jones, presented the ten awards, while the charity’s Chairman Stephen Lewis thanked The European Tour and Wentworth Club for staging the event and all the Foundation’s core funders and supporters for backing the charity throughout another year.

Stephen Lewis said: “It is a great honour to represent the Golf Foundation which works with so many people who care deeply about the game. We thank all the volunteers, PGA Professionals and all the golf clubs up and down the country who are inspiring the next generation of young golfers. Congratulations to all the very worthy winners of our awards and it is a privilege to hear your stories today.”

Foundation Chief Executive Brendon Pyle talked the audience through the ten Presidents’ Awards winners and their “incredible work”, which includes the following:

The Sinclair Award is made each year to a leading PGA Professional. This year, the award is made jointly to two Pros who work together, Jonathan Pearson and Paul O’Donnell, ofCookridge Hall Golf Club, Leeds. Each received an ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler, with their awards.

In 2015, this pair coached 1,500 children in schools and community taster sessions, 400 entered through the gates of a golf club, 360 attended at least five weeks of coaching, and 25 new young members were created.

Eleven players under the age of 14 progressed into the Leeds and District training squad as part of Yorkshire Golf.

Some 150 youngsters have weekly golf lessons, including 60 girls; there are sessions for youngsters with disabilities and a satellite club for teenagers.  Around 120 youngsters use the Junior Golf Passport on a weekly basis.

The Sir Henry Cotton Award is the Foundation’s most prestigious award, presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to junior golf over a sustained period of time.  This year’s recipient is David Owen of Knowle Golf Club, Bristol.

Along with the fine trophy, David receives a special grant generously provided by the Stanley Morrison Charitable Trust and an ETIQUS golfer’s watch kindly donated by Gary Butler.

David Owen became Junior Organiser of Knowle GC in 1999, when his daughter Sally joined as a junior member.

There are now 23 girls in the junior section, compared to 22 boys, which certainly bucks the trend in golf clubs around the country. Over 40 children under the age of 10 attend a Monday night academy session run by our recipient.

With the club situated beside one of the most deprived areas of the UK, David set up a support fund with the help of Knowle members, which ensures that finances are not a barrier to any child playing the game at this club. Five pupils from a local secondary school have been given free membership.

David is committed to introducing more players to the game and some of these players have gone on to enjoy success at the elite level. Players such as Hannah Barwood (England international and Curtis Cup player) and Jo Hodge (England international and multiple County Champion).

On receiving his award, David Owen said: “I would like to thank the Golf Foundation on behalf of all those children out there who have received support and encouragement from the charity.  As you can imagine, I am totally passionate about encouraging children to take up golf.”

David said being a Junior Organiser isn’t always easy but is always worth it “when you see that sense of joy and achievement on the faces of the children when they hit that ball for the first time in the air, straight and long, or when they hole an outrageous 30 foot putt.”

David added: “One final and very important thank you goes to my wife Jennifer who has shown me so much support.”

Golf Foundation

This article is an extract from an article in Golf Business News. To read the full article click here.