28 May 17
Award winner: Peter Ball (left) with members of the Sheffield Inclusive Golf Project and Golf Foundation president Sandy Jones (far right)
Peter Ball, the PGA Professional who played a key role in putting major winner Danny Willett on the road to stardom, has good cause for a double celebration.
Ball, who leads the Sheffield Inclusive Golf Project, has been made a PGA Master Professional and been presented with the Golf Foundation’s prestigious Burroughs Award.
The Golf Foundation is the nationally recognised charity that helps young people enjoy the playing and personal benefits of golf through its HSBC Golf Roots programme in schools, golf clubs and communities.
Its Burroughs Award is presented to an individual who has made particular progress in golf in the face of adversity or a project that has made efforts to create opportunities for those with special needs.
The Sheffield Inclusive Golf project led by Ball does just that by providing fully accessible and inclusive golf sessions for a group of young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities.
A Special Olympics Golf Club was then formed to offer participants the opportunity to take part in the Special Olympics National Games which will be held in Sheffield later this year.
Several youngsters benefitting from the project accompanied Ball on the stage at Wentworth when he was presented with award on the eve of the BMWPGA Championship.
Commenting on the progress his young charges have made since getting involved in golf, Ball said: “What these young people have achieved is brilliant.
“Everyone here today is used to dealing with public situations and conversing with strangers but for a number of our group this kind of thing is a huge challenge for them, dealing with new situations can be very difficult.
“But this golf project has been great for building their confidence gradually, developing new life skills that can help in their day-to-day lives while making some friends for life.
“Each person has benefited in different ways. In return, I have learned so much from them, which has been a privilege.”
Ball, who is based at Moor View Driving Range, was also privileged and honoured to reach the summit of his profession by being made a PGA Master Professional.
“It’s an incredible honour and I don’t feel worthy of it to be honest,” said Ball. “It’s a pretty exclusive band on the coaching side.”
Other coaches to have attained PGA Master Professional status the late John Jacobs OBE and Pete Cowen, the coach of several major winners including current Open champion Henrik Stenson.
Both Jacobs and Cowen have had an influence on Ball’s career and he added: “People like that are great to be around and to have the opportunity to ask them questions is invaluable.
“People at the PGA Training Academy such as David Colclough and Dave Robinson have also been a huge help in giving me their time and advising me.”