12 Mar 18
PGA Members are being encouraged to nominate a colleague or even themselves as candidates to win the Toby Sunderland Award, the annual accolade given to a pro for his or her charity work.
Nominations for the award, which is worth £1,200 and a plaque to the winner, should be made to a pro’s regional manager by April 30.
In addition to the main award, each of the six other regional nominees receives a plaque and cheque for £250.
The ways employed by PGA pros to raise funds or help the less fortunate, sick or needy over the years have been weird, wonderful, wacky and often physically challenging.
Whatever the methods, however, thousands of pounds and Euros are raised annually, often by sponsored marathon runs, non-stop rounds of golf, charity pro-ams and memorabilia auctions.
For last year’s winner, Philip Ring (above), it was a question of giving his time as opposed to generating funds.
And in doing so, Ring, the first winner from Ireland, puts his life on the line as a volunteer with the Irish Coast Guard, Howth Unit.
“Raising money is one thing but giving your time is something else,” said Ring. “That’s very important as far as I’m concerned.”
Ring was inspired to volunteer for the coast guard as a result of seeing their helicopters fly past while he kept his terminally ill sister company at night so that she could spend the remainder of her life in her own home.
Since then he has been on call 24/7 and involved in more than 130 missions, some at risk to his own safety.
Ring is no stranger to personal tragedy: having lost his sister, his close friend and fellow PGA Professional, Liam Duggan, passed away at the age of 37 last year.
He responded by donating his prize money to Liam’s wife and two young children via The PGA Benevolent Fund.
Which is the charity that one of last year’s other nominees, Alan White, has been supporting.
White, the head pro at Lanark Golf Club, Scotland, who was appointed PGA Chairman late last year, has now run four pro-ams in aid of the Fund and raised more than £30,000.
Meanwhile, the East Region’s nominee, Daniel Field (above) has supported a number of different charities since joining The PGA in 1998 but it is his involvement with former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper Bob Wilson’s Willow Foundation over the last 10 years that deserves a special mention.
He started running the annual Arsenal Legends v Spurs Legends golf day in 2008 and in 2016 total funds raised at the annual event broke through the £100,000 barrier.
Across the country in the South West, as well as wearing two hats - captain of the region and his club and fulfilling his role as head PGA pro at Radyr Golf Club - Simon Swales found time to raise funds for a local hospice.
He choose the SW Children’s Hospice because it was a children’s charity and, as he is based in a large region, he wanted a good cause that was local but also served it.
As a result he had donation buckets at every tournament through the year so players could donate as well as holding a Captain’s Charity Pro Am to raise extra funds. In total he raised more than £9,500.
The fund-raising efforts of the South region’s Dominic Toms are also related to children.
Inspired by the death of a friend’s child suffering from a terminal illness the Surrey-based pro completed his first London Marathon in 2015 and raised more than £7,000 for the Rainbow Trust.
The local charity enables families who have a child with a life-threatening illness to make the most of time together and Toms subsequently ran six marathons in 2016 to raise more funds.
Personal experience of the devastating effects of cancer inspired last year’s two other regional nominees to raise funds to either treat people suffering from or find a cure for the pernicious disease.
Chris Cole, head PGA pro at Beamish Park Golf Club, County Durham, has undergone six spells of chemotherapy after testicular cancer was diagnosed following his admission into hospital for a routine hernia operation.
He subsequently started an annual fundraising golf day for the Charlie Bear Cancer Appeal, which helps supply equipment for the hospital where he was treated, and since its inauguration in 2012 more than £50,000 has been raised.
James Whatley (above), head PGA Professional and academy director at the East Midlands Golf Academy at Morley Hayes, has been running fundraising golf days for even longer and has raised more than £35,000.
His involvement has grown since his elder sister Janine was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago.
The most recent golf day was staged last April and held in aid of boobiedate, the charity founded by Janine and for which she raised more than £400,000.
Sadly Whatley’s father succumbed to cancer two months before the day and Janine passed away in January. Janine, a wife and mother of two young children, was just 40.
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