Friends of junior golf from the world of business, media and sport joined forces on Monday (28th September) to compete in the 29th Golf Foundation Pro-Am, held at London Golf Club, a European Tour Destination.
Tournament Professionals provided by The European Tour guided both the in-form and the merely enthusiastic amateurs, who clearly relished the opportunity to test their games over the superbly set-up International course at the Kent venue.
The golf, auction and dinner created an excellent fundraising opportunity, with more than £15,000 being raised for the Golf Foundation, the charity whose purpose is to make golf more accessible to young people and to help them ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport.
All the money collected and pledged will be spent on the Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme which grows golf participation among young people and offers the ‘Skills for Life’ benefits for which the sport is known.
With strong backing from The European Tour, the Tour players (including guest Ladies European Tour player Felicity Johnson) led 18 teams in competition on ‘The International’, with rave reviews from all for the condition of the course and its super-fast greens. Tour Pro’s David Gilford, Mike McLean, Sion Bebb, James Heath and Estanislao Goya were among those passing on their expertise to the amateurs on the day.
In the team competition, the ‘Women & Golf’ fourball secured fourth position, the London Golf Club team used their local knowledge to finish third and the PGA quartet came second, just losing out on a countback to the victors of the day, ‘The Kent Massive’. The Kent men were presented with The Wickham Shield by guest-of-honour Hugh Wickham, of The European Tour, who has been a guiding light of the event since it started in 1986.
A highlight of the round was a ‘Nearest-the-Pin’ Challenge on the devilishly difficult par-3 eighth hole over water, all generously sponsored by British timepiece maker ETIQUS, with a finely-crafted ETIQUS watch as a prize donated by company founder Gary Butler (Mizuno and PING also kindly donated on-course prizes).
Brendon Pyle, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “We would like to thank every player for being part of a fantastic fundraising day for this charity. The money will be spent wisely on our school, community and golf club projects which offer children from all backgrounds an opportunity to play and take their golf further, while learning valuable life skills from the game.
“Supporting our national partners to grow the sport, a key focus of our work is to increase participation and retain more young players. During the last year HSBC Golf Roots created more than 3,500 new junior club members but it’s not just about numbers: this charity is seeking to inspire young people and their families to get the most out of their golf and learn from the game as they develop as people.”
Brendon added: “The European Tour is a great supporter of our cause and this event of course, where friends come together to help the next generation; so a huge thank you to Sally Stewart and Fredrik Lindgren of The European Tour and all the professionals who encouraged the teams so well today.
“I would also like to give special credit to the whole team at London Golf Club for making us feel so welcome. Thank you to Austen Gravestock, Paul Stuart and all the team.”
Throughout the day, competitors were able to use the Golf GameBook live scoring system on supplied iPhones to record their score, courtesy of Clarion Golf.
More than £5,000 was raised in the auction and the Foundation wishes to thank all those who donated prizes, auction and raffle items. These include in no particular order: Abacus Sportswear, Titleist, PING, Mizuno, Robert McGuirk, HSBC, Ryder Cup Europe, Glenmuir, Premier League 4 Sport, Woburn Golf & Country Club, Colin Montgomerie OBE, the PGA, ETIQUS, Stephen Proctor, Steven Tiley, The Berkshire (courtesy of Nick Bragg), The Tour Players Foundation, The European Tour, Mouton Cadet, The R&A, Moët-Hennessy, Simon Evans, and Essex Autos.