A group of 11 remarkable young people are set to give golf a fresh, new voice.
They are Young Ambassadors for England Golf and the Golf Foundation and through their own stories, enthusiasm and love of the sport, they will challenge negative perceptions and play a part in getting more people talking about and playing the game.
The ambassadors range in age from 10 to 22 and include school pupils, students, a volunteer coach, a trainee PGA professional, a would-be PE teacher and a trainee doctor. They’re all prepared to do what it takes to inspire others, whether it’s speaking at meetings, blogging or vlogging, getting involved with national campaigns or helping to organise events.
“They’re an amazing group,” said Lee Dolby, England Golf’s Young People Manager. “They’re bringing to life our Children and Young People’s Plan for Golf and helping us achieve our vision of inspiring a love of golf that lasts a lifetime.
“By sharing their stories they’ll help raise awareness of golf, show the positive impact of young people and prove that it’s a game for all.”
The Ambassadors are:
Emma Anderson, 20, of Sherwood Forest Golf Club, Nottinghamshire
Ella Baker, 12, of Warley Woods Golf Club, Halesowen
Isabella Bleaken, 10, of Westonbirt Golf Club, Gloucestershire
Warren Clark, 17, from Hampshire and a member of Salisbury & South Wilts Golf Club
Emily Furniss, 18, of Gaudet Luce Golf Club, Worcestershire
Morgan Halpin, 19, of Morecambe Golf Club, Lancashire
Ali Jodiyawalla, 18, of Hatchford Brook Golf Club, Birmingham
Ysobel Lush, 16, of Langdon Hills Golf Club, Essex,
Hope Neild, 16, of Royal Norwich Golf Club, Norfolk
Jessica Pilgrim, 12, of Harewood Downs Golf Club, Buckinghamshire
Matthew Wilcox, 22, of West Lancashire Golf Club, Lancashire
The ambassadors recently got together for a training session involving the Youth Sport Trust and the Sport and Recreation Alliance. It was a chance to share their stories and experiences and similar themes emerged right across the age range.
They spoke of how golf has given them confidence and inspired their career ambitions, how they want to work to make the game truly inclusive and their passion to show that it’s not an ‘old man’s’ game.
Here, four of them talk about golf:
Ali Jodiyawalla took up golf at the age of 12 when his dad was introduced to the sport through his work. Now, aged 18, he wants to give back, commenting: “Golf’s given a lot to me, if it wasn’t for golf I think I would just be out with my mates a lot more, instead of being focussed on something.
Ali is a Level One volunteer coach and his main interest is helping other people to enjoy golf and discover what a great game it is. “There’s a lot of stereotypes around golf but when you actually start playing and get more and more involved it’s so different,” he said.
“If young people start representing golf a lot more than the elderly it will take away the biggest stereotypes, that it’s an old man’s sport and a rich man’s sport. And if younger people are doing it, it looks a lot more fun!”
Ysobel Lush is, at the age of 16, a veteran volunteer, having helped to recruit girl golfers for three years with Girls Golf Rocks in Essex. The sport and her experience has shaped her life and ambition to be a PE teacher. She says: “I’ve been playing golf since I was little and I’ve made all my best friends through golf. It’s made me what I am and what I want to be.”
Morgan Halpin started playing golf with plastic clubs as a three-year-old and is now in the first year of his PGA training. He likes the social aspect of golf and comments: “It’s fun, that’s what it’s all about.”
Morgan is passionate about sharing his pleasure in the game and has particular interest in disability golf, inspired by his sister who has a rare genetic disorder. His mum and a friend founded Unique Kidz, a charity to help families find suitable childcare and social activities for their disabled children, and Morgan has been involved with golf activities.
Emma Anderson was England Golf’s 2017 Young Ambassador of the Year in recognition of her extensive volunteering. But the university student reckons she has benefited from golf: “It’s made me so much more confident and helped me know that I want to work in sport.”
She’s upbeat about the way golf is changing, but says the challenge is getting the wider world to recognise this. “When I talk to people my age about golf there is a perception that it’s older people who are making the decisions, but within golf a lot of young people do have a voice that is listened to. What we’ve got to do is get that voice out there to say that golf is a progressive sport which is changing and that it’s something for people to get involved with.”