Women & Golf were delighted to be in attendance at the England Golf Centenary Dinner & Awards to celebrate all the achievements of counties, clubs, coaches, players and volunteers across England.

Tuesday 13 February was a historic night for England Golf, as the governing body celebrated its 100th anniversary with the Centenary Dinner & Awards at the very place it was born – The Midland Manchester Hotel.

And, as part of the celebrations, 11 different awards were handed out while 12 names were also inducted into an all-new England Golf Hall of Fame, as picked by the England Golf Centenary Committee.

Hosted by former golf star and Sky Sports presenter, Nick Dougherty, The Midland Manchester Hotel welcomed 450 guests and recognised heroes from across the country who have gone above and beyond to make the game of golf what it is today.

There were 11 category winners announced each with a unique story to tell, while nine of those categories were nominated for by the public, before 46 judges from the golf industry and golf media examined the nominations to whittle them down to one winner per category.

The nominees for the Tournament Venue of the Year and Performance of the Year category were put forward and then judged by staff in the England Golf championships and performance departments respectively.

Each award winner received an engraved glass trophy and a gift hamper to mark their amazing achievements.

Club of the Year - Bedfordshire Golf Club

General Manager at Bedfordshire Golf Club, Glenn Rayner, receiving the Club of the Year award, said: “I can’t believe it. It’s a real honour to win this and it’s amazing for us and our members.

“Our members really value this award and this award is for our volunteers and our staff. Our team is amazing and it’s a credit to the people who go out every day and do the job for nothing. It’s great for our club and our county.”

Through a range of media, the club engages with residents in the area and now has a vibrant junior section, welcoming golfers of all levels, starting from 6 years up to 17, with handicaps from one upwards, and individuals playing club competitions and regularly representing the county.

The club also hosts the County Junior/Academy Programme, Schools’ Scratch Championships and a Rookie Schools event. They have also run Girls Golf Rocks for several years and now run Women on Par, as they aim to get more females into the game.

The club has integrated new members and encouraged parental involvement, while catering for members of all ages, while graded subscriptions have allowed golf to be more affordable.

County of the Year - Devon Golf

Nick James, Chair of Devon Golf, receiving the award, said: “We’re a unified county after merging in 2018 and what we’ve achieved over the last few years has been fantastic. This award is the icing on the cake really and a reflection of where we are.

“Our biggest achievements have just been getting more people playing golf and we’ve done some great work getting our development squads together, getting more people out and involved in golf clubs, working collectively together for the purpose of the county."

Devon offers a free county card to all of its affiliated members as part of its affiliated member benefit package. Subsequently, four county card events have been set up each year which is inclusive of all handicaps, attracting over 1000 different golfers to these events.

Devon are quickly becoming ambassadors of change to help grow the game of golf by demonstrating the many benefits that come from unification, and were the first county nationally to adopt the ED&I policy at county level.

Diversity and Inclusion Champion - Nicola Bennett, Bush Hill Park Golf Club

As a qualified PGA Professional Coach at Bush Hill Park GC and Golf Foundation Ambassador, Nicola has been delivering golf in 15 North London primary and SEN schools, as well as community groups, for the past three years.

After receiving the Diversity & Inclusion Champion award, sponsored by Citation, she said: “It means a lot for me and my community of people from different ethnic minorities to be recognised.

“In this day and age, things are so difficult in terms of the pressures of things like social media and inflation, and it’s so important to embed strengths within young children so they can carry themselves in life, and just to be able to give them this through playing golf and learning mannerisms and etiquette, it really helps to make them strong-minded individuals and we need that more than ever.

“I dedicate this award to the kids and ladies that I coach because the golf is secondary. It’s more about the community that has been built and just to see what golf gives to people is incredible. It’s way more than golf – I see women come together going through divorces, losing people, through heartache, and it just brings people closer together, so this is for them.

“The most rewarding part is seeing people evolve and become better versions of themselves through having more of a holistic mindset, being more confident and able – there are no words to describe what that feels like.

“I hope to increase participation and to make golf a lot more inclusive. There’s still a lack of BAME minorities in golf and I hope different organisations and firms can do things to help change this."

Participation and Development Coach of the Year - Alex MacGregor, Addington Court Golf Club

Alex is dedicated to creating golf opportunities to everyone in the community of South London, running activities in 2023, which included engaging with over 20 schools and community groups in delivering to hundreds of children.

He hosted the Croydon Borough Primary Golf Festival for 90 children and trained 16 young leaders in the process, collaborating with Deshi Golf to give young people from an Asian background their first golf experience. He has also trained staff as Activators to support and host their first on-course experiences.

Alex has taken golf to the Canary Wharf Football Academy Community session, building a strong relationship with the local Muslim Centre and delivering golf to family and junior groups.

After winning the award, he said: “It’s a great feeling and spurs you on to achieve more. There are so many talented coaches and people trying to grow the game and it’s nice to be recognised on such a special night on the 100th year of England Golf. 

Performance of the Year - Kris Kim, Walton Heath Golf Club

The 16-year-old is one to watch in the golfing world after his magnificent 2023 saw him pick up a host of accolades.

As well as the Fairhaven Trophy and the McGregor Trophy (English Boys’ U16), Kim won the coveted R&A Boys’ Amateur Championship.

The Surrey youngster also enjoyed team success with England as he picked up a bronze medal at the European Boys’ Team Championship, while helping England Boys & Girls win The R&A Home Internationals. He was also shown live on Sky Sports as he helped Team Europe to a convincing Junior Ryder Cup win over the USA.

Upon winning the award, Kim said: “It feels amazing and like all my hard work has paid off. It means so much because the people in the room are all doing an amazing job in golf and also the names that have been on this trophy in the past, is outstanding.

Sustainability Project of the Year - Colmworth Golf Club, Bedfordshire

Located in rural north Bedfordshire and surrounded by acres of rural habitat, Colmworth provides the surrounding wildlife with sanctuaries dotted around the course.

They also plant a tree for every couple who get married at their wedding venue on top of the many trees they already plant.

Having made the move to using organic TurfCare – Colmworth have massively reduced their use of pesticides and fungicides, while the course drains into its lakes which in turn supplies its irrigation. All of its ponds are healthy and are home to many fish and a vast array of wildlife including kingfisher.

The club has its own honey bees and sells the honey in its shop, as well as recycled aluminium water bottles with a refill station on the 13th tee.

From utilising reclaimed materials, providing bamboo-only tees, or moving to solar panels, Colmworth is doing all it can to become a sustainable golf club.

Tilly Vesly, Owner of Colmworth Golf Club, said: “We’re just overwhelmed. We’re a little family-run club and it means the world that we’ve got some recognition for our little team and we hope to inspire other clubs that they can make a difference.

“The biggest thing we’ve done is install a lot of solar, and our target is to become completely off-grid which would be amazing. It’s the little things and educating our members about those things that they can do. We did our ‘tee amnesty’ where they handed in plastic tees and we gave them bamboo tees. It's these little things we can teach people in how to make a difference, which mean a lot.

“We’d love to put in a turbine or more solar and we’ve got some more robot mowers on the way which is exciting. We’re always evolving and getting lots of ideas from other people so we’re busting to crack on with them!

“We’re in our Colmworth bubble doing our Colmworth things, so when you come to these awards and learn about the amazing things other clubs are doing you recognise that golf is heading in a great direction and that’s exciting.”

Tournament Venue of the Year - Shifnal Golf Club

Shifnal Golf Club picked up the England Golf Tournament Venue of the Year award for 2024 at Tuesday’s England Golf Centenary Dinner & Awards at The Midland Manchester Hotel.

The Shropshire course hosted the English Girls’ U16/U14 Championship in August, and was recognised by the country’s national governing body for its efforts.

Frank Gardner, Match Director at Shifnal, said: “It’s a culmination of three years of hard work from the point of being awarded with the tournament to the time we hosted it. We’ve achieved a lot over the past 12 months with a good turnover of staff showing great improvement of the course and an enhanced reputation as a result of hosting this tournament and we’ve brought the club together.

“We’ll probably have a party! We had 60 volunteers who worked their socks off for this tournament. It was their efforts and without them it wouldn’t have been the success that it was, so it’s them that we need to thank.”

Volunteer of the Year - Abi Frodsham, Wallasey Golf Club, Cheshire

Abi has delivered golf in nine schools to over 500 children, and as acting Junior Organiser at Wallasey, she marketed and delivered the Girls Golf Rocks programme and follow-on sessions.

At Leasowe, Abi supported community sessions for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and has volunteered with Liverpool Football Club Foundation at LJMU Game On girls’ campaign, inspiring young girls in Liverpool into sport.

She was presented the Hero’s Handshake Award, presented by the Golf Foundation and England Golf Young Ambassadors, recognising her incredible volunteering activities.

She has also developed lots of creative and innovative social media content helping promote a variety of local programmes.

After picking up her award, she said: “It means a lot actually. My heart was beating a lot! It was a really nice surprise and I was a bit nervous walking up in front of all those people but it was cool.

“It drives me to want to do even more and it’s nice to be recognised but it’s not for the recognition that we do it, it’s for the other people that we’re supporting and helping along the way."

Women and Girls' Trailblazer - Jersey Ladies Golf Development Group

After picking up the award, Jersey Golf President Juanita Adlington (right) said: “I’m speechless, I didn’t think we would win this but it’s truly deserved for all the ladies and volunteers that work so hard to make it such a success.

“They’re all from proprietary clubs who have trouble to course access, so having done this by themselves and picking up new members, their clubs are thriving, so this is a huge recognition. I think this will kickstart ladies golf in Jersey and put everything on the map. It’s already helped and some people don’t realise golf is such a great sport so when you suddenly start doing a few things, people realise it’s amazing.

“It means so much because we’ve all worked so hard together. We just put our hearts and souls into it and really wanted to look after these small clubs and for these to go by the by would be devastating, so this award is recognition for that.”

Melina Syred, ex-Ladies Captain at Les Ormes, added: “Our initiative was a collaborative approach in doing something unique and interesting and there’s a lot of room for scaling the whole initiative up. It’s a really big day for ladies golf in Jersey in letting people know that smaller clubs are open for membership, and that golf is just a great sport for ladies to make friendships, socialise, and there's a lot more to it than just playing.”

With three of the smaller golf clubs in Jersey - Les Mielles, Les Ormes and St Clements, struggling to recruit new female members and membership numbers being low, the clubs reached out for support. 

Two members from each club were invited to attend a workshop to discuss the situation and clubs agreed that rather than all working separately, a working group would be formed to create a programme to encourage new women to golf.

The power of a working group would help increase visibility of the game and ‘Jersey Women in Golf Working Group’ was formed.

The three clubs came together to host taster sessions to encourage non-golfers and returning golfers to the game, while each club hosted a taster session but promoted the programme as one and supported each other with volunteering. Each club shared ideas and agreed on a format for sessions ensuring unity to the initiative.

A total of 68 ladies attended the sold-out Taster Series and a total of 23 new members have joined the three clubs.

Overall, there has been a nine per cent increase in women’s membership in 2023 and all three clubs focus on participation and inclusivity with items such as social evenings to nurture new friendships, golf rules nights, a buddy system, Texas Scrambles and other fun competitions making the ladies feel included.

Young Volunteer of the Year - Freya Allen, Elsham Golf Club, Lincolnshire

The 12-year-old Elsham Golf Club golfer has helped weekly with junior coaching at her club and Girls Golf Rocks as a Young Helper.

As a young golfer starting golf through Girls Golf Rocks in 2019, Freya was keen to be an ambassador and give back to younger golfers, and she went on to support the club’s two Girls Golf Rocks taster sessions alongside supporting the Girls Golf Rocks coaching blocks.

Freya supports around four hours of junior coaching and on-course activities weekly – in which she will proactively take registers, has come out of her comfort zone to deliver demonstrations, encourages and supports the juniors, and helps to pack away and tidy up.

She also supported with taking videos and photos during a Girls Golf Rocks session which was used to help promote the activity.

She holds excellent authority, as well as fantastic communication skills whilst demonstrating amazing leadership and professionalism.

After picking up her award, she said: “It means everything to me and I’m so proud of myself. It’s a great achievement – I don’t even know how to explain it!

“What I feel like I’ve learned, is that I can lead. The most rewarding thing has been seeing the kids having a good time and coming back every week. I enjoy doing warm-ups with them but I’ve seen some questionable star-jumps!

“I just want to get more people into the game. I think we need to get more girls into it and we need to get golf into more schools."

Freya’s message for anyone looking to pick up a club for the first time was: “Do it! Just go for it! I love it because it’s all about making friends and having a good time.”

Lifetime Service Award - Graham McCormack, Birchwood Golf Club, Cheshire

England Golf Hall of Fame inductees

Sir Michael Bonallack, Allison Nicholas, Gerald Micklem, Peter McEvoy, Trish Johnson, Gary Wolstenholme, Georgia Hall, Peter Alliss, Dame Laura Davies, Sir Nick Faldo, Bridget Jackson, Luke Donald. 

England Golf CEO, Jeremy Tomlinson, said: "What a night it was at The Midland Manchester, not just in celebrating 100 years of England Golf and the Rose, but in continuing to recognise the amazing people across the game today, who make it what it is.

"We received many fantastic nominations for clubs, volunteers and individuals across the country and we'd like to congratulate all of our finalists, and of course, our winners.

"I would also like to thank Nick Dougherty who was an exceptional host, and we look forward to our next occasion in 2025."

Speaking at the event, Dougherty said: "It’s an honour for me to host the England Golf Centenary Dinner & Awards. There are so many people doing wonderful things in the game and it’s fitting that we recognise them on what is a special night celebrating 100 years of England Golf.”

Congratulations to all the England Golf Award winners and thank you for inviting us to be part of the celebrations.