Supporters of junior grass roots golf from the world of business, media and sport came together this week to enjoy the 28th Golf Foundation Pro-Am, held at the London Golf Club.
The golf tournament, auction and dinner created an excellent fundraising effort from all involved, with more than £20,000 being raised for the Golf Foundation, the charity that makes golf more accessible to youngsters from all backgrounds and helps to grow participation in golf clubs through initiatives including the PGA-endorsed Junior Golf Passport.
With strong backing from The European Tour, the Tour players and invited members from the Ladies European Tour (Trish Johnson - pictured below, Rebecca Hudson and Becky Brewerton graced the day) led 22 teams in competition on the superbly set-up Heritage course at London Golf Club in Kent. Despite the first genuinely cold day of Autumn here, players returned smiling with many commenting on the excellent and challenging greens on the Heritage course.
From this challenge it was four teams with experienced players that rose to the top. The R&A team secured fourth position, the London Golf Club team used their local knowledge to finish third, and were denied joining a three-way tie for first place by just one point. The PGA team and European Tour Properties both finished on 83 points, with the PGA winning the prestigious Wickham Shield thanks to a count-back on the back nine.
Brendon Pyle, Acting Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, praised the teams and commended the greenkeepers for the fantastic condition of the course. He said: “We would like to thank every player for their contribution and a fantastic fundraising effort today. Your support and the support from all golfers really is appreciated as our HSBC Golf Roots programme is introducing over half a million young people to golf every year and, last year, created 2,500 new junior members in clubs.
“The European Tour is a great supporter of our cause and this event of course, where friends come together to raise funds to encourage the next generation of players; so a huge thank you To The European Tour and all the professionals who encouraged the teams so well today.”
Brendon made special thanks to The European Tour’s Hugh Wickham, who was guest of honour on the day, having been the driving force behind the Pro-Am’s beginnings back in 1986, and after whom the event’s trophy is named.
He added: “Finally, I would like to thank Austen Gravestockand all his staff at London Golf Club for making everyone feel so welcome and providing a brilliant stage for our annual Pro-Am.”
This fundraising day has a prestige all of its own thanks to The European Tour’s support, which dates back to that first Pro-Am in 1986. More than £200,000 has been raised during the last ten years to help the Golf Foundation reach increasing numbers of boys and girls through its HSBC Golf Roots initiative, which offers playing opportunities and ‘Skills for Life’ elements in schools and community projects and then feeds young people through to golf clubs, preparing them for regular play and, hopefully, a life in golf.
The European Tour and Golf Foundation are working together to celebrate the legacy of the Foundation’s founding father, and one of the UK’s premier touring golf professionals, Sir Henry Cotton. His passion for golf has been furthered by the Foundation and Tour players in creating eager golfers from diverse backgrounds and abilities.
Supporting the amateurs at London Golf Club, Tour pro’s Mike McLean, Sam Little, Ben Evans, Sion Bebb, Glenn Ralph and Van Phillips, were among those passing on their expertise.
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.
Other notable winners on the day included Chris Picton, winning ‘nearest-the-pin’ and the prize of an excellent watch from hole sponsor ETIQUS, and big-hitting Gary Firkins who won a premium TaylorMade putter for ‘longest drive’.
The Golf Foundation also offers a special thank you to The BMW Championship and Tour Players Foundation, which helped in producing exciting items for the auction. Generous donations of player prizes, auction items and raffle prizes came from The European Tour, Mizuno, Robert McGuirk, HSBC, Tractor Hire, Heath Harvey, Ryder Cup Europe, Woburn, Titleist, Moet Chandon, ETIQUS, TaylorMade Golf, and Adams Golf.
Team Picture Caption: Hugh Wickham (second right) presents the Wickham Shield to the PGA team, which was made up of Robert Maxfield, team professional David Griffiths, Paul Robertson and Steve Thorp.