The inspirational winners of the first England Golf Awards were honoured last night for their outstanding contribution to the sport and to growing the game.
They were celebrated at a gala dinner for their excellent and innovative activities which support for the England Golf strategy, Raising Our Game.
The strategy calls on all who care about the sport to work together to create a brighter future for the game. Its aims include more members, more players, stronger clubs and identifying and developing winning golfers.
The award winners were:
Young Volunteer of the Year – Jake Conroy, 19, of Little Hay Golf Club, Hertfordshire; presented by Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation.
Jake, who has cerebral palsy, champions both junior and disability golf and spends much of his time volunteering. “I never expected to get anything for volunteering,” said Jake. “I enjoy doing it, I get a massive buzz from it. It’s good to see people with smiles on their faces!”
Volunteer of the Year – Margaret Bedford of Strawberry Hill Golf Club, Middlesex; presented by Judi Walker, England Golf board member.
Margaret has transformed the junior section at her club and raised the profile of Strawberry Hill in the local community. “I can’t believe it, this was such a surprise and such an honour and I’m so delighted for my club,” she said. “I just love volunteering.”
Lifetime Service Award – Anne Herbert of Gosforth Park Ladies, Northumberland; presented by Nigel Evans, England Golf President.
Anne, who has just retired as President of the Northumberland Ladies’ Association, was recognised for her work with her club, county, region and county vets’ association. “I’m very thrilled and very honoured. I am also very lucky because I enjoy volunteering and I never expected to be thanked for it!”
Talent Pathway Award – Gareth Snelgrove of Hagley Golf Club, Worcestershire; presented by Nigel Edwards, England Golf Performance Director.
Gareth, a PGA coach, has created a local pathway offering school pupils a taste of the game – with the emphasis on fun – and follow up opportunities for coaching in the club’s junior academy and golf club membership. “If we keep persevering with this system it will help to grow the game in Worcestershire and, hopefully, across the country as a whole,” he said.
Participation Award – Scott Rusbridge and Tom Hide, Coastal Golf Academy, Essex; presented by Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England.
The PGA professionals run their academy at four clubs – Frinton, Millers Barn, Harwich and Colne Valley – and aim to inspire golfers of all ages and backgrounds to play the game and become members. Scott commented: “It’s an honour to be recognised by England Golf and it’s a reward for our efforts which makes us even more enthusiastic to carry on.”
Membership Award – Ken Wilson of Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire; presented by Richard Flint, England Golf’s Director of Participation and Club Support.
Ken has grown the membership at his club with a warm welcome and new ideas, such as persuading the club to offer discounted memberships to attract specific age groups. “It’s a great honour for me to be recognised nationally. It has been hard work, but it’s been very rewarding.”
Modernisation Award – Mark Rozenbroek of One Stop Golf, Hull; presented by Martin Slumbers, incoming Chief Executive of the R&A.
Mark has realised his dream of creating the ‘ultimate golf gaming centre’ where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the game. “It’s fantastic to be recognised by England Golf and winning a national award is special,” he said.
GolfMark Club of the Year – Windlesham Golf Club, Surrey; presented by Stuart Gower of COBRA PUMA GOLF and Andy Willems, England Golf senior regional manager.
Windlesham won the award for their great work to get juniors and beginners into the game. Stewart Judd, Windlesham’s general manager, said: “Part of our vision is to continuously improve and GolfMark is a key part of that. It has helped us put procedures in place, helped us grow our membership and helped us develop as a sustainable business.”
Coaching achievement award – Graham Walker of The Oaks, Yorkshire; presented by Steve Parrish, Chairman of the England Golf Performance committee.
Graham Walker was honoured for his many achievements as lead coach to the national men’s squad. “This is a massive achievement for me and I’m immensely proud,” he said. “I love working with the players and getting them to improve to become the best they can be.”
London Pride Steward of the Year – Samantha Hudson of Swaffham Golf Club, Norfolk; presented by England Golf Chairman Graham Yates.
Samantha is a steward who is literally prepared to go the extra mile for her club -she’s planning to run a marathon this year to raise funds for their charity. “This means the world to me, I can’t think of anywhere better to work,” she said. “I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me and especially to thank my team. I couldn’t do it without their backing and their support. This is for everyone who helps run the clubhouse and who also goes the extra mile.”