Following the recent merger of the English Golf Union with the English Women’s Golf Association to form England Golf, joint presidents for 2012 were voted into office at yesterday’s (Wednesday) Annual Meeting at Woodhall Spa.
Paul Baxter (Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire), the past Chief Executive of the English Golf Union, and Sue Johnson (Huddersfield, Yorkshire), a past Chairman of the England Ladies’ Golf Association and the Ladies Golf Union, will operate in tandem for the new organisation for the coming year.
Paul Baxter says: “The merger will undoubtedly bring with it a number of challenges however it will also create opportunities.
“I have known Sue Johnson for a number of years and we have worked together in the past. Our role is to support the Board bring together a smooth transition of the two organisations into a single body for the promotion and development of English golf.
“Creating one organisation provides the opportunity to grow the game at a time when membership of clubs is declining and one of my ambitions during my year as President is to promote the benefits of golf club membership.
“I am also looking forward to supporting England teams and visiting the clubs hosting our championships, but most of all I look forward to meeting the people who make the game tick – the club volunteers who give so willingly of their time so that we can play and enjoy this wonderful game.”
Sue Johnson says: “This is history in the making and we are privileged to be part of it. Through our roles we can help to bring men and women golfers together as members of one, united and successful organisation. So, I shall attend some men’s events and Paul will be at a number of women’s events.
“The merger which created England Golf was for the good of all amateur golfers, and it is now up to us to make it work.”
After studying mechanical engineering as part of an apprenticeship with Golf Ball Development for Penfolds, Paul Baxter worked for Rolls Royce and the Bemrose Corporation in Derby before moving into golf administration in 1973 as secretary at Chevin Golf Club.
Four years later he moved to Sherwood Forest before the switch to the English Golf Union (EGU) at its headquarters in Leicester prior to the move to Woodhall Spa in 1996.
Paul is also an accomplished golfer. After joining Sherwood Forest as a junior in 1956, he was English boy champion in 1960 as well as a boy and youth international. He captained the England youth team and also represented GB&I at boys level. He was Derbyshire champion three times, match play champion four times and once Nottinghamshire champion.
His involvement at the helm of the EGU restricted his playing opportunities but he was captain of the Midland Golf Union 1982–84 and President of the Nottinghamshire Schools Association 1983-84.
In 2001, Paul became an England senior international and in recent times has been a member of the Lincolnshire seniors team, becoming Lincolnshire seniors champion in 2009.
Paul has been married to Carol for 47 years and they still live in Woodhall Spa. They have two sons, Frazer who is the golf professional at Market Harborough Golf Club, and Iain, a Wing Commander in the RAF, and a daughter Sharon, who is a Ward Sister at a hospital in nearby Boston. They also have six grand children.
Sue Johnson is a past chairman of the English Ladies Golf Association (ELGA) and the Ladies Golf Union (LGU).
She began her career in golf administration in Yorkshire and went on to represent the county for ELGA, which became the English Women’s Golf Association. She became ELGA chairman in 1987 then started a six-year term on the LGU, which she chaired in 1994.
Sue was LGU president from 2001-03, has also been captain and president of Yorkshire and is a life vice-president of both bodies. During her time with the LGU Sue was involved with running the Commonwealth Tournament, now the Astor Trophy, and the Curtis Cup when it was held at Royal Liverpool.
She has been a single figure golfer for most of her life and played for the Yorkshire second team, but says: “I’ve never been a top golfer but I have had such pleasure from the game and met so many wonderful people.”
Sue was introduced to the game by her husband, Peter, and their elder son, Paul, recently finished his term of office as Huddersfield club captain. Their other son, Dan, represented Great Britain in wheelchair basketball in three Paralympic Games and their daughter, Jill, played for the England Under 18 hockey team, before making her home in France. Sue has four grandchildren.