Olympic champion Justin Rose, Masters champion Danny Willett and Solheim Cup player Charley Hull were honoured at last night’s 2017 England Golf Awards, alongside other players and heroes from the grass roots game.
Over 400 guests and celebrities attended the glittering ceremony at Lord’s, which celebrated all that’s great about golf in England.
“This is our chance to applaud the fantastic achievements of our players, volunteers, clubs and counties,” said England Golf Chief Executive, Nick Pink. “They are a true inspiration to people to take up and play golf and share the pleasures of this great game.”
Danny Willett was named Player of the Year for his superb 2016 and, in particular, his Masters victory, which he defends next month.
In a video message to the audience he said: “I’m delighted to receive this award for what was a really fantastic 2016 for me. Looking back, I really couldn’t have achieved it without the help of England Golf through the years, with all the coaching staff and the staff behind the scenes.”
He also spoke about his forthcoming return to Augusta and while he wouldn’t reveal details of his menu for the champions’ dinner there was a strong hint of a Yorkshire flavour!
Justin Rose, an England Golf ambassador, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for a career which also includes US Open and Ryder Cup triumphs. In a specially recorded message he told the audience why he helps to grow the game by promoting the next generation of golfers.
“I received so much help from England Golf through coaching programmes, representing my country and travelling all over the world to play for England. That type of experience was unbelievable at the time and stood me in good stead for my professional career.”
Bronte Law of Cheshire took the women’s Player of the Year award after a final season of amateur golf when she was ranked world number two, was the top women’s US college player, the European amateur champion and a key player in England’s European team championship win and GB&I’s Curtis Cup victory.
“England Golf have given me so much over the years and I’m really glad we had such a successful year and I could pay back and show my gratitude for everything,” she said in a recorded message.
Charley Hull’s rapid rise to the top was recognised with the Spotlight Award. The audience was reminded how, after winning her first national title at the age of nine, she become England’s top woman amateur at 15, the LET rookie of the year, the youngest-ever Solheim Cup player, the youngest winner of the LET Order of Merit and, most recently, an LPGA winner. And, she won’t be 21 until next week!
“I was two-years-old when my dad said ‘Come on’ and took me to the golf club,” she said in a message to the audience. “I used to hit balls around the garden with my best mate and then I was selected for an England Birdie squad when I was eight or nine and it took off from there.”
She added: “I just love being out in the fresh air and I love whacking that golf ball!”
The Team of the Year was the England side which won the European women’s team championship for the first time in 23 years: Emma Allen, Alice Hewson, Bronte Law, Meghan MacLaren, Lizzie Prior and Olivia Winning, coached by Steve Robinson and captained by Anne Baines.
Stars of the grassroots game were highlighted for their tremendous work to encourage new players and to support clubs.
The Lifetime Service Award, sponsored by Your Golf Travel, was won by Jenny Hobbs of Bath Golf Club, Somerset, who has shared her love of the game for over half a century by supporting her club, county, regional and national organisations. Read more
The Volunteer of the Year is Jenny Davies of Bondhay Golf Club, Yorkshire, who has built up a fantastic junior section over the last four years and who also encourages the parents to play! Read more
The Young Ambassador of the Year, presented in association with the Golf Foundation, is Emma Anderson of Sherwood Forest Golf Club. She volunteers widely to encourage new players, especially girls. Read more
The Club Coach of the Year is Ben Knight of Chartham Park Golf Club, Sussex, who works both at the club and in the wider community to introduce golfers of all ages to the game. Read more
The Strongest Community Engagement Award went to Hollingbury Park Golf Course Brighton, Sussex. It’s open to the whole community and it constantly looks for new ways to introduce people to golf and its wellbeing benefits. Read more
The GolfMark Club of the Year, sponsored by TaylorMade-adidas Golf, is The Point at Polzeath in Cornwall. The owners have used GolfMark to create a successful, thriving club for golfers and a hub for holiday makers and the local community. Read more
The Most Welcoming Golf Club, sponsored by american golf, is Fynn Valley Golf Club, Suffolk. There’s a very warm welcome for golfers and non-golfers at Fynn Valley and an emphasis on having fun. Read more.
The County of the Year, sponsored by SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC, is Lancashire – a county where everyone pulls together, putting the needs of players and clubs at the heart of everything it does. Read more
The Awards also recognised the winners of the 2016 England Golf Orders of Merit.
The Boys' winner, Charlie Thornton of Fulford Golf Club, Yorkshire, received his trophy from Charles Harrison of the R&A. Charlie was also featured in the Player of the Year video interviewing Danny Willett.
The other Order of merit winners, who were not able to be at the Awards evening, are:
Men – Scott Gregory, Corhampton Golf Club, Hampshire. Scott, the Amateur Champion, flies to America tomorrow to prepare for his appearance in The Masters.
Senior Men – Stephen East, Wike Ridge Golf Club, Yorkshire
Women – Sophie Lamb, Clitheroe Golf Club, Lancashire
Senior Women – Cath Rawthore, Sale Golf Club, Cheshire
Girls – Emily Price, Cleobury Mortimer Golf Club, Worcestershire.