Justin Rose has been given the Golf Foundation’s prestigious ‘Spirit of Golf’ Award at St Andrews – presented to a golfer considered to be truly inspirational to junior golfers.
The Golf Foundation is a charity that works to make golf more accessible to children from all backgrounds through its ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme in schools, golf clubs and communities. Encouraging boys and girls to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the game, the Foundation is aiming each year to introduce 500,000 children to golf, move 50,000 through the gates of a golf club and generate 5,000 new members.
Ryder Cup hero and US Open winner of 2013, Justin Rose began his relentless rise as a prodigy with support from the Golf Foundation. From a fifth place as an 11 year-old in the Golf Foundation Under 13’s Age Group Championship in 1991, today he joins an elite group of Spirit of Golf Award winners who have all inspired young people to pick up a golf club and play.
Previous recipients include Gary Player (2007), Tony Jacklin (2008), Lee Westwood (2009), Ian Poulter (2010), Ernie Els (2011), Peter Alliss (2012), Tom Watson (2013) and Darren Clarke (2014).
After that first top-5 finish in ’91, two years later Rose won the Under 14’s outright, at Patshull Park in Shropshire. His reward was to be invited to a coaching week at Wentworth in the Spring of 1994, led by then Ryder Cup European Team Captain Bernard Gallacher.
Now one of the best players in the modern era, it is also his sense of fair play that appeals to the Foundation, a charity which focuses on the life skills for young people provided by the game.
On receiving the award Justin said: “This is a huge honour for me. I remember playing as an 11 year-old at Patshull Park and then winning the championship a couple of years later. I learned a great deal from the coaching week at Wentworth and stayed at Bernard Gallacher’s house – and I remember he got me to really focus on my putting.
“The Golf Foundation does a great job in getting more youngsters from all backgrounds to enjoy a great game that they can play all their lives, and it is up to all of us to encourage the next generation of players. I am also impressed that the charity focuses on the life skills that golf can offer young people.”
He added: “I hope I can keep playing the game in the right spirit and my message to young players is that you don’t have to have a plus handicap by the age of 14. All players progress at different rates and if you work hard and enjoy the game you will succeed.”
Golf Foundation Chairman Charles Harrison said: “Justin Rose follows some of the great names in the history of golf in receiving this award but of all those names on the list it feels like Justin is one of us.
“The Golf Foundation helped Justin in his early years and now he is an inspiration to youngsters everywhere and he speaks so well about the spirit and sportsmanship that golf encourages as a sport, something of huge importance to this charity. It is a privilege to present him with the Golf Foundation Spirit of Golf Award.”
The stunning silver and glass ‘Spirit of Golf’ claret jug was donated to the Golf Foundation by Burridge Trophies, and youngsters attending the presentation were enthusiastic young golfers from Pitlochry Golf Club.