The England Golf awards winners

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 16, 2021 14:25

The last year and a half has been like no other for golf clubs. To recognise just some of the work carried out during the pandemic, England Golf has rewarded clubs, counties and individuals for their achievements in growing the game.

Naga Munchetty

Some of the English clubs, counties and individuals that have made a significant and positive impact on the amateur game since the start of the pandemic have been honoured by England Golf.

The England Golf Awards 2021 sponsored by adidas Golf was held virtually and streamed on YouTube.

Broadcaster and avid golfer Naga Munchetty was the host for the night when winners of seven categories were announced live to an online audience of finalists, well-wishers and golfers from up and down the country.

Judging panels made up of England Golf staff as well as industry and media colleagues made the following winning selections:

Club of the Year

This honour went to Bush Hill Park Golf Club in Middlesex for its outstanding efforts during the pandemic year.

Over 160 new members have joined Bush Hill Park since the first national lockdown in March 2020 due in no small part to the club’s positive and engaging presence on social media.

The club has become a signatory to the Women in Golf Charter and developed a new women’s affiliate programme which has attracted over 40 beginners and put 26 women on a pathway programme to full membership.

With a female chairman and PGA professional at the club, Bush Hill Park is fully committed to encouraging more women and girls to find enjoyment and healthy exercise through golf.

Improvements to levels of governance also impressed the judges while the work on the course and practice area has also been a boon for the members.

New bunkers, an on-course toilet facility and a halfway hut were constructed.

Using money received via an England Golf COVID-19 Support Fund grant, the club was also able to build five undercover practice bays and install a new chipping area for members’ use.

The club also won praise for its work in the community during lockdowns.

Perishable food and drinks were donated to a London homeless charity while 100 food parcels were delivered to members who were forced to self-isolate and were unable to venture out for supermarket shopping.

A takeaway food service also went down a storm – with 2500 portions of fish and chips or curry being sold to hungry golfers denied their usual visit to the clubhouse restaurant because of restrictions.

In keeping with a live and virtual event there was also some unexpected drama during this announcement. Despite missing out on the award, the lady captain and president at Dunnerholme Golf Club celebrated loudly – much to the confusion of others – after taking a call telling them they had just become grandparents!

County of the Year

Lincolnshire earned the praise of the judges for promoting women’s and junior golf.

In 2020, 22 of Lincolnshire’s 45 clubs signed up to The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter.

The same number of clubs were also awarded HSBC Golf Roots Centre accreditation – highlighting a drive to promote junior golf in the county.

In the past year, the Lincolnshire Ladies’ County Golf Association also amended its title to replace the word ladies with women – a small but significant and modernising touch to reflect the more inclusive, open for all philosophy that the county is keen to portray.

Overall, over 1,000 new juniors were introduced to golf in Lincolnshire in 2020 through participation programmes and almost 200 of these youngsters subsequently joined clubs as academy or full members.

The county also formed a new 15-strong junior volunteer team in 2021 – the Lincolnshire Girls Golf Squad – with the junior girls themselves playing a prominent role in shaping the aims and objectives of the group.

In 2021, the county will run five GolfSixes leagues involving 264 juniors 130 of whom are girls.

Performance of the Year

England international Joe Long’s feat in winning the Amateur Championship saw him scoop the top accolade.

The 24-year-old from Gloucestershire claimed victory in the 2020 Amateur Championship staged by The R&A and this earned him the nod from the judging panel.

“I’d just like to say a massive thank you to England Golf for me winning this prestigious award – I really feel honoured to receive it,” admitted Long.

Long is enjoying a dream year – helped by the spin-off invites following victory in that Amateur Championship last August.

In April, Long made his debut in the Masters at Augusta and shot a level par second round of 72 in the company of former champion Bernhard Langer.

He’s also played at Torrey Pines in the US Open and this month will play in the 149th Open at Royal St George’s.

Long was also part of the Great Britain and Ireland squad which narrowly lost the Walker Cup to the USA earlier this year at Seminole Golf Club in Florida.

“I really appreciate all the support from England Golf,” added Long. “I don’t believe all these opportunities would be possible without them.”

Sustainability Project of the Year sponsored by STRI

Whitsand Bay Golf Club in Cornwall was the winner thanks to an ecologically-sound approach to golf course management.

From a core membership of 120, Whitsand Bay has added 200 new members in the last three years and is building for a stronger, more sustainable future.

Since taking over the reins in 2018, Antony Hospitality Holdings has transformed the club’s fortunes by adopting a biodynamic policy.

By capitalising on the club’s setting in an area of outstanding natural beauty and moving away from chemicals, insecticides and pesticides, Whitsand Bay is going from strength to strength.

The club has also rebuilt 14 bunkers with turf sourced from site, sown a one and a half acre wildflower meadow and this year plans to add a number of beehives on the course surrounds.

The club talked about its progressive, carbon-based approach to agronomy when presenting a video on its project to world leaders at the G7 summit last month.

Volunteer of the Year

Faversham Golf Club’s Barry Sears’ commitment to junior golf saw him come out on top in a strong category.

Barry is a mainstay at the Kent club and is now totally immersed in the role of junior organiser having initially agreed to lend a helping hand as an ‘interim’ volunteer.

Five years on, Barry is still in the temporary role! In fact, he is now a key factor in driving participation among juniors and has a real knack of helping beginners fall in love with the game at an early age.

From a total of five juniors when Barry started his work, the club now has a thriving section with more than 70 boys and girls actively engaged as members.

With Barry’s perseverance, the club now runs regular Sunday afternoon meets for juniors without the pressure of more experienced players hurrying them along.

The club has introduced a full set of blue tees for younger players allowing them to play a shorter version of the full course.

A link with local schools has also been established thanks to Barry’s hard work and regular taster sessions are introducing more and more youngsters to the sport.

Even a serious adductor injury which left Barry struggling to walk in 2019 and into 2020 has not diminished his appetite to serve as junior organiser.

Barry has also leant his knowledge and expertise to helping the county develop its grassroots golf strategy and take his skills to a wider audience in the south-east.

Young Ambassador of the Year sponsored by the Golf Foundation

Lily Walker’s immense contribution to junior golf at North Hants Golf Club won over the judges.

Lily has been a member at North Hants Golf Club for three years and used the fact that she was the only junior girl at the club to spark a mission for change.

Lily is now one of six junior girls at the club with more recruits on the way – inspired by the 18-year-old’s ‘can-do’ attitude.

As junior captain Lily has also set up a junior committee to help give young people a voice at the club.

Under her guidance the club now has a ‘Junior Captain’s Day’ in the diary and Lily is at the forefront of introducing a Ryder Cup-style event which involves all sections of the golf club competing in the one competition.

Last month, Lily and three fellow juniors from North Hants also took on the ‘Longest Day Challenge’ by playing 72 holes in one day to raise funds for the Macmillan cancer charity.

Somehow, in among all this activity, Lily has found the time to accept the accolade of being named county captain for Hampshire.

Lily is also proud to be associated with the Young Ambassadors group – a forum for young people in golf operated by both England Golf and the Golf Foundation.

Through this group, Lily contributes to the social media channels run by the Young Ambassadors as well as writing articles from a young person’s perspective for publications such as the Midlands Golfer magazine and Tee Times golf magazine.

Lifetime Service Award

Barbara Craven’s dedication over many years to Chester Golf Club and its members was rewarded with a fitting honour.

On a recent visit to Woburn Golf Club, Barbara was surprised when Hannah Ingram-Moore – daughter of the later captain Sir Tom Moore – broke the news of her award and paid tribute to her amazing work helping others.

Over the past 20 years Barbara has been involved as a golfer, volunteer, committee member, lady captain and president at Chester Golf Club and she is currently chair of the house and club welfare officer.

As a former GP, her caring and compassionate nature has endeared her to everyone she has come across.

In particular, her recent work with the junior section and her drive to promote women’s golf has shown just how valuable an asset she is to the club and community.

Barbara was crucial to promoting the values of the Women in Golf Charter to which Chester Golf Club has become a signatory.

On learning that she had won the award, Barbara said: “It came as a massive shock to me, but I’m extremely honoured to have been nominated and then picked up this award.

“I’ve been at Chester Golf Club now for around 33 years. I joined so that my husband John and I could have a sport to play together when we were on holiday once our family had decided they didn’t want to come away with us anymore!

“When I retired as a GP I had time on my hands and I became the first lady on the management committee. Once I became the first on committee I wanted to help others follow and show that the women had something positive to offer the golf club.

“It’s a great club and socially very active. The aim is now to encourage more youngsters to get involved in that side of things.

“As club welfare officer, I’m involved with our new professional to help build up again what once was a very active junior section.

“I’ve made a lot of friends over the years at the golf club, people that we have been on holiday with and socialise with away from the club.

“Being at Chester Golf Club has been a huge part of my life and I’m thrilled to win this award.”

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick July 16, 2021 14:25
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