England and Wales (North) Region
26 May 16
PGA Professionals Jonathan Pearson and Paul O’Donnell have received a prestigious national award for their dedication to junior golf at Cookridge Hall Golf Club, Leeds.
The duo, who liken their double act to a golfing equivalent of TV stars Ant and Dec, were presented with the Sinclair Award during the Golf Foundation’s annual awards ceremony at Wentworth on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship.
Between them the pair coached almost 2,000 children in schools, community taster sessions and at the golf club over the course of 2015. From this 360 attended at least five weeks of coaching and 25 went on to become junior members of Cookridge Hall.
O’Donnell, left, and Pearson have also integrated youngsters with disabilities, providing accessible opportunities for all youngsters to try their hand at the sport.
“This is the culmination of eight-and-a-half years’ hard work,” explained O’Donnell, who started work on the project before welcoming Pearson to the team.
“When Jonathan came on board I was able to look at disability golf, trying to get more girls playing – just making it as inclusive as we possibly can.
“What you find is that you get all the kids on the phone telling all their mates about it – which means that Jon is constantly run off his feet at the club!”
The club currently welcomes 150 children for weekly sessions, with 60 girls taking part. There’s also an additional satellite club for local teenagers.
“What we see is that a lot of our kids go off to clubs around Leeds,” explained Pearson.
“We’re not trying to keep them all to ourselves – it’s simply about getting as many kids involved in golf as possible.
“One memory that really stands out for me was when we sent a group of kids up to Hoylake for The Open a couple of years ago.
“These kids just loved hitting golf balls and they were 10 or 11 years old so it was a really exciting trip for them.
“All of a sudden I just remember hearing them on the radio and they were with Clare Balding. She interviewed six or seven of these young lads and I just thought, ‘that’s fantastic that they’ve picked our kids out’."
“It was a great moment for them and a great memory. And you know what – they all still come down to the golf club seven days a week.”
The Golf Foundation is a national charity that that aims to help young people enjoy the benefits the game offers and make it more accessible to them.
Commenting on Jonathan and Paul’s success, its chief executive, Brendon Pyle, said: “They demonstrate perfectly the Golf Foundation’s aim of helping young people to start, learn and stay in golf.
“For me PGA Professionals are at the heart of golf and our two winners perfectly demonstrate how PGA coaches can use HSBC Golf Roots initiatives to grow the game.”
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