Double top for Walton at PGA graduation


Lancastrian Sarah Walton has reaped instant dividends after being crowned the Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year at the annual PGA graduation ceremony.

The Lytham Green Drive assistant is set for her first head professional post at Kington in Herefordshire, believing that her success has everything to do with clinching the role.

"I am 100 per cent certain being able to add PGA Assistant of the Year to my CV made it sparkle and help get an interview," said the 36-year-old, who began her career as an assistant at Accrington Golf Club.

"Winning this award has already helped my career without question. I start in May and have been down there three times already and I am looking forward to taking the role on.

"It has been a bit hectic trying to sort everything out, but I have found somewhere to live and I am ready to get involved with the coaching and running the business, the latter forged during my three years on The PGA Foundation degree."

This is the second successive year that Walton has come ahead of her peers having finished top of the second year assistants on the three-year PGA Foundation Degree in Professional Golf.

Walton's success was recognised in a ceremony at the University of Birmingham, where she collected the prestigious Whitcombe Cox Trophy and a cheque for £3,500 from BBC TV newsreader and golf enthusiast Naga Munchetty, who was the guest of honour.

In addition, Walton was presented with golf equipment from sponsors Titleist, while she also received the Ladies European Tour-backed Beverly Lewis Trophy - named after the PGA's first female captain - and a cheque for £1,750. She also picked up a prize from GASP Systems having finished joint third in the coaching modules.

Walton, a former driving instructor until deciding to pursue a career in golf, said: "I am absolutely thrilled at winning as this is a massive achievement. To recognise all the hard work that has been put in is always fantastic, especially as I am aware of the calibre of the other assistants on the course.

"Winning last year certainly gave me the impetus to believe that I could get through the course with good grades. I knew I put everything into it and whatever the outcome was, I knew I could I say I'd given it my all."

The win saw Walton play a part in PGA history as this was the first time the three major awards in each year had been won by women. Jersey-based Alex Mollin took top in the second year, with former Curtis Cup player Louise Davis winning the Rookie of the Year title.

Walton added: "When I started the course I was told that just five per cent of the membership is female so for three women to top each year shows how strong women's golf is and how it is developing.

"It also shows the calibre of women coming through the system and also already out there which can only be excellent for growing the game of golf."

Sandy Jones, chief executive of the PGA, said: "The PGA Graduation is a day of celebration for young men and women who have successfully completed the PGA Foundation degree and have now rightfully joined the ranks as a PGA Member.

"They will be and should be really proud of this achievement as will their many friends and family, who will join them at the ceremony.

"This year the PGA Training Academy is celebrating a unique and historic achievement as the leading students in each year are women. This is something the Association is very proud of as it will clearly assist in the future growth of the game and resonate with young girls and women.

"Graduation is really just the beginning of a career that will take these young men and women across the globe to wherever the game of golf is played. I wish them all good luck and enormous success wherever their journey may take them."

Jonathan Dowdell, Titleist's European marketing manager, said: "We are pleased to continue our support of the Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year award, recognising this as a starting point of the PGA's commitment to provide its members with a framework for lifelong learning.

"PGA Professionals play a key role in the development and growth of the game across all levels, and we are delighted to support the next generation of qualified professionals and to wish them well with their future careers."

The PGA training programme, which was founded more than 50 years ago, concentrates on all aspects of golf including coaching, business, equipment technology and repairs, rules and tournament organisation, sports science, sports psychology and playing.

Training and education remains an integral part of The PGA while it also runs an honours degree in association with the University of Birmingham.

Once qualified, PGA members also undergo a process of continual professional development to keep them up to speed with all the latest developments in the sport.

Our Partners

  • Air IT
  • Banyan Tree
  • The Belfry
  • Coca-Cola
  • EVC
  • FootJoy
  • Gleneagles
  • PING
  • St. James's Place
  • Therabody
  • Titleist