Leatherhead Golf Club yesterday hosted the first meeting of Surrey Golf’s Young Ambassadors. The 15 chosen youngsters from Surrey, aged between 18 and 25 years old, will be raising the profile of golf in the county over the coming months with the aim of encouraging more young people into taking up the game. They will be seen at golf clubs, public events such as the Olympic Torch Relay, and most importantly they will play an important part in the running of the BMW PGA Championship at the Wentworth Club from Thursday May 22 to Sunday May 25.
At the BMW PGA Championship, they will be meeting all the professional golfers competing in the event when they help out with operating scoreboards and running the practice range, and will also be given the opportunity to meet the celebrities competing in the Pro-Am on Wednesday May 21.
Philip Beard, National Volunteer Manager for England Golf, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to have a major impact on the development of golf in Surrey. They’ll help shape initiatives and support club professionals in the development of the game.”
England Golf Development Officer Andrew Willems, who is leading the project and liaising with The European Tour who are supporting the Young Ambassadors Scheme, said: “It is wonderful to give local young people the opportunity to volunteer at a major global sporting event in order to gain qualifications that will enhance their CVs and their career opportunities, and give them a good start in life. Their motivation and commitment is key, and this was apparent in all the young people who signed up and came along today.”
PGA golf professionals from the World of Golf centres in New Malden and Croydon and from Effingham, Leatherhead, Goal Farm and Pine Ridge Golf Clubs have generously committed their time and support to the Young Ambassadors, who will be helping them out at their facilities. The young people will also be encouraging family members and friends to try out golf through England Golf’s Get Into Golf campaign, which offers free beginner lessons for adults, and through the Golf Foundation’s Golf Roots scheme for people under 18.
The young people who signed up to become Young Ambassadors were impressed with what they heard about the scheme at Leatherhead Golf Club.
Some of them were experienced golfers, for example, Nick Rowlands, aged 19, who has played golf for four years at Merrist Wood and is a 10-handicapper. He said: “This will be an incredible experience for us in a great year for sport in this country, and at a great time for English golf”
Raphael Akkouche, 20, a five-handicapper from Merrist Wood, said: “This is an exciting opportunity which we’re grabbing by the horns, and we will thrive on the experience.”
Tom Shaw, 18, is an aspiring golf journalist and is looking forward to seeing the event first hand as it will be “a great experience to work on the course.”
Pierre Marini, 20, is looking forward to being part of a team with people from different backgrounds and working on this exciting project.
Some of the volunteers have only had a little experience with golf, but are willing to give it a try. Samantha Hopkins has just started lessons and Rosie Holgate has never played golf before, but is now so interested that she thinks she will be taking up the game herself.
Over the next few months, the Young Ambassadors will be volunteering in various golf projects throughout the county and will next meet up at Wentworth Club on April 11, when they will be shown round the clubhouse and the venue and shown what will be in store for them when they work at the BMW PGA Championship in May. Surrey Golf will be keeping readers in touch with the Young Ambassadors’ progress throughout this year.
Deanne Tager Smith
Surrey Golf Partnership