Nicholson, Davidge and Newton honoured at Performance Awards 2020

Andrew Nicholson has spoken of his pride at being named England Golf’s Coach of the Year for 2020.

Nicholson – a valued member of the regional coaching set-up – was given the accolade during the recent England Golf Performance Awards ceremony which was hosted online.

There were also awards on the night for Volunteer of the Year, Sheila Davidge and Jim Newton who was presented with a glass trophy for Excellence in Coaching.

The South West represented by Davidge, Martyn Thompson, Harri Cizmic, John Jacobs and Mark Powell scooped the prizes for both girls’ and boys’ region of the year.

Nicholson’s award was an acknowledgement of outstanding work during 2020, a year in which one of his pupils – England women’s squad player Charlotte Heath – won the Australian Amateur Championship.

It was a night charged with emotion for Nicholson (main picture) who paid tribute to his late father, Victor, in an acceptance speech delivered from the heart.

“I would like to dedicate the award to my dad,” he confirmed.

“He was a great man, an Imperial College Master of Science who did research for NASA.

“He was pretty much the brightest, yet most modest man I ever knew. He was a good guy and I miss him so much and owe everything to the support and mentorship he showed me.”

Every pupil who has ever worked with Nicholson – based at the Wynard Golf Club in Stockton-on-Tees – is immediately struck by his passion and enthusiasm for the game.

Having coached Nick Marsh and Dan Brown to their English Amateur Championship titles in 2014 and 2016 respectively, Nicholson currently works with European Tour pro Chris Paisley as well as a raft of up and coming junior girls in Yorkshire and the north east.

Known as ‘Mrs South West’, Davidge (pictured above) richly deserved her title of Volunteer of the Year.

Even while battling through her recovery from chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, she was still dedicated to the girl golfers in the region.

Based in Dorset, Davidge has helped a number of outstanding golfers make their way from regional to national level over the years and her excellent communication with players, coaches and staff is always outstanding.

For his excellence in coaching over a lifetime spent helping golfers in Yorkshire, news of Newton’s award was warmly received.

Having just retired from serving a decade as manager for the Yorkshire region, a passionate commitment to junior golf was noted in Newton’s commendation.

A tireless worker for Leeds and District Union of Golf Clubs and Wakefield Golf Club, Newton (pictured above) was credited on the night for the way he helped create fun, energetic and high quality coaching environments for all the boys he helped coach over the years.

As well as celebrating the winners at the award ceremony,  the 2020 Performance Conference also introduced some excellent guest speakers to the online audience of coaches and volunteers from across the country.

Renowned putting coach Mike Kanski, short-game expert Graham Walker and Rick Sessinghaus – coach to 2020 USPGA champion Collin Morikawa – were among the list of those who offered captivating presentations to their audience.

England Golf Performance Director, Nigel Edwards, paid tribute to the coaching staff and volunteers for their work in this the most challenging of years.

“The dedication shown and the hard work put in by all our performance staff, volunteers and colleagues across the regions is always superb,” admitted Edwards.

“But in 2020 the desire to continue to provide world-class support to our golfers has been truly outstanding.

“Both in and out of lockdown, the enthusiasm, imagination and drive of our coaching network and volunteers kept golfers engaged and focused on their goals.

“We are extremely fortunate to have so many talented and conscientious people willing to put in the hours and go that extra mile on behalf of the country’s up and coming players.

“I must also thank the speakers at the conference who gave their time and knowledge so freely and made a lasting impression on those who were able to join us for the unique online sessions.”