What does it mean to win an England Golf Award? What difference does it make? As we search for our 2019 winners, we set those questions for Liam Ridgill, our 2018 Young Ambassador of the Year.
Liam is the captain of Drax Golf Club in Yorkshire, taking on the role at the age of just 23! He is the youngest captain in the club’s history and the only person to have been both junior and club captain.
Winning the award has had a great influence on his year. He explains:
“The award came a catalyst for success, not only personally but for the club and more importantly in my eyes, the game as a whole. I have always aimed to help modernise the game and attract younger players to all golf clubs. After all, it is a fantastic social sport that has served me well since picking up my first 7-iron at the age of eight.
“I’m happy to say that through further initiatives from members’ benefit schemes and other developments at the club, we have seen 34 new members this year – with the majority never been members of golf clubs before!
“While it has been fantastic welcoming new players to the game, I have tried to focus on keeping people playing and involved in the sport. In the busy 21st century, some of us unfortunately don’t find the time to play golf, mixing it with work and family time. This is why in March 2018 we at Drax introduced “Sticks at 6”.
“It was a new 9-hole social gathering which was run by myself every Wednesday from March to mid-September to encourage people to pick up their clubs for 9 holes at 6pm.
“This was also a great way to integrate new members with longer serving members of the club. Two of the new members, off the back of our first Sticks at 6, managed to reach the semi-finals of our doubles knockout competition.
“From the success of this year, I encourage all clubs in England to host their own Sticks at 6 and keep their members engaged with the club.
“As you can imagine, being a club captain at such a young age has been a happy challenge. However it has now put me in good stead, along with the award, to start looking at the future of golf in terms of junior players.
“When I first joined Drax as a 12 year old, we had 40+ juniors. Sadly, over the years the number has unfortunately dwindled. My focus for 2019 and the following years will be around encouraging and supporting the younger generation of players and trying to encourage those of school/university age to take up the sport we all know and love.
“I’m hoping to draw on the award to show people of a young age that golf is a game for everyone. I believe that England Golf has fantastic values that can be relayed to a wide audience using all forms of social media. Drax members have come to embrace platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and it is now an invaluable part of our marketing strategy.”
- Know someone equally deserving for 2019? Nominate now for one of these categories:
Most Welcoming Club of the Year, sponsored by HowDidiDo
Lifetime Service Award
Volunteer of the Year
Young Ambassador of the Year, in association with The Golf Foundation
Coach of the Year, sponsored by The PGA
County of the Year
Innovation Award, sponsored by Players 1st
To find out more click here. Nominations close at midnight on Friday 30 November 2018.
Caption: Liam Ridgill (right) is pictured with TV presenter Dan Walker (left) and Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation.