A 23-year-old Yorkshire golfer who is helping to change the image of the game, was named last night as England Golf’s Young Ambassador of the Year, awarded in association with the Golf Foundation.
Liam Ridgill is the 2018 club captain at Drax Golf Club, near Selby, and his contribution to his club and to modernising the image of the sport was honoured at the England Golf Awards, sponsored by Bridgestone.
Guests at the glittering, black tie event at the Royal Lancaster London applauded Ridgill, who uses his professional skills in marketing and IT to drive his club forward.
“It’s fantastic to be recognised,” said Ridgill. “But I only do what I do for the love of the club and the members and the guys I play golf with. It’s as much an award for them as for me.”
The judges recognised his enthusiasm, professionalism and innovative approach to attract people to the game and commented on his captaincy: “This is a great achievement that shatters the preconceived idea of golf only being for middle aged gents.”
Ridgill, the youngest-ever captain at Drax and one of the youngest in the country, is delighted to be changing perceptions around golf, saying: “There’s this historical stigma around golf that it’s for people who are retired but it’s a good sport for everyone to be involved in.”
Ridgill first started playing golf at eight and was introduced to the sport by his grandad, who is a founder member of Drax – and who has steadfastly refused to be captain, even declining an invitation to be his grandson’s vice!
After a break to try other sports he returned to golf aged 14 and, before long, was junior captain. Next, he became involved with the club committee when he was 19, taking responsibility for promoting Drax via social media and its website.
Successful promotions have included an offer to new members of 15 months’ membership for the price of 12 if they joined within a three-month period. This attracted 16 new members this winter.
One of Ridgill’s aims as captain is to build up the junior section and to retain players in their late teens and early 20s. Initiatives at the club to support this include student and intermediate memberships, while each adult member is given two associate junior memberships for children or grandchildren.
And what’s special about Drax Golf Club? “It’s the members,” said Ridgill. “We’re a tight-knit club and you get to know everyone. We’ve got a great set of members and we all pull together. It’s a strong community.”
The runners-up for Young Ambassador of the Year were Megan Field of Hatchford Brook Golf Centre, Warwickshire, Jessica Pinnell of Hatchford Brook Golf Centre, Warwickshire and Georgina Wrixon of Ashley Wood Golf Club, Dorset.