Yorkshire’s Les Walker has a keen eye for golfing talent and he’s just been honoured for his years of volunteer service as an England and GB&I selector.
Walker, from Selby Golf Club, received England Golf’s Award for Excellence in Coaching at the annual coaching conference at Woodhall Spa.
He is renowned for his vast experience and encyclopaedic knowledge of boys’ and men’s golf. He’s got a great eye for spotting talent and has proved it over and over again by helping to pick successful teams, with players such as Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Luke Donald among his selections.
Walker’s second term with the R&A has just come to an end after eight years as a boys’ selector and he bowed out after a convincing win for GB&I over Continental Europe in the boys’ Jacques Leglise Trophy, which involved five England players.
Prior to this he trawled the fairways as a Walker Cup selector and was involved with the winning teams of 1999, 2001 and 2003. “We changed the pattern, we turned it around to win three on the trot and we only lost the next two by very small margins,” he said.
He first became an England selector over 30 years ago and has been involved in many national successes.
Walker is continuing as a boys’ selector and most recently has played his part in picking the England teams which have won the Boys’ Home Internationals for the last three years.
“We have a very, very strong squad and they are young so we have them for more years than we used to,” he commented as he looked forward to more successes.
Walker has his own proud record as player, having represented Yorkshire 178 times, winning 103 matches and halving 18. “It’s a good ratio,” he commented, viewing his record from a selector’s point of view! “It shows the lads that I have some expertise, that I did peg it up!”
Walker was recognised alongside three other award winners. JJ Vallely of Matfen Hall, Northumberland, and coach to the North girls’ squad, was named Squad Coach of the Year. A Special Recognition Award was presented to David Ridley of Coxmoor Golf Club, Nottinghamshire, to mark his retirement after 32 years as an England coach. Paul Cannons of Kingsdown and Walmer Golf Club, Kent, was honoured as the Volunteer Manager of the Year.
Caption: Les Walker, left, receives his award from England Golf Performance Director, Nigel Edwards (image copyright Vicki Head).