The Golf Foundation has this week thanked The R&A and HSBC for the significant support that made The 2011 Open Championship the most successful ever for the leading golf charity.
As millions watched The Open, the Golf Foundation was given a unique opportunity to showcase its ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme, which encourages children from all backgrounds and circumstances to enjoy golf and learn positive life skills.
The Open’s organisers created the ‘R&A Swingzone’ in the tented village at Royal St George’s for the whole week. Here, the Golf Foundation team worked alongside the Professional Golfers’ Association and on behalf of the England Golf Partnership to introduce golf to new participants.
Highlights of the week included a visit to the ‘R&A Swingzone’ from the new Golf Foundation President, Colin Montgomerie, as a major announcement was made.
HSBC has joined the drive to get more youngsters interested in golf through the Golf Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme and through a long-term relationship with The R&A. This joint contribution will mean more funding for the Golf Foundation over the next five years.
Linked to its support of The Open Championship, HSBC’s quest to contribute to the world of golf at a local level will now see the bank sit alongside The R&A, The European Tour, the PGA, the Ryder Cup Committee and Trust, the British Golf Industry Association’s ‘Grow Golf’ Fund, and Sport England as a core partner of the Golf Foundation.
Another major announcement made during the week was the presentation to the great South African golfer Ernie Els of the Golf Foundation’s ‘Spirit of Golf’ Award.
Ernie was selected for the honour for his achievements as a player, for his contribution to the sport, and the commitment he has shown to children and young people.
Els joins an illustrious club of previous winners that includes Gary Player (2007), Tony Jacklin (2008), Lee Westwood (2009), and Ian Poulter (2010).
Through invited school groups and family visits to the 'R&A Swingzone', young boys and girls played Tri-Golf and Golf Xtreme games, competitions and a special putting challenge sponsored by Titleist.
Many youngsters also took advantage of the free lessons given by PGA professionals throughout the week. The pros were present thanks to the PGA, who sponsored the professionals to teach the young golfers as part of the organisation’s commitment to junior golf.
The Golf Foundation team also recreated ‘The Open Championship Challenge’, enjoyed last year by, among others, Louis Oosthuizen. The defending Open Champion returned this year to play the 30-second Tri-Golf game where balls are fired at the target to score as many points as possible in the time allowed.
Oosthuizen was joined for the challenge by fellow Open players Brian Davis, Webb Simpson and Nick Watney, Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie, LET players Sam Head and Jo Mundy, rugby legend and HSBC Ambassador Gavin Hastings and BBC presenter Andrew Cotter; with Brian Davis winning the day with a record score.
As an excellent added bonus in the 'R&A Swingzone', the Golf Foundation team were able to welcome top women’s golfer Suzann Pettersen to take part in the challenge and meet youngsters. Suzann had just been appointed as The R&A’s next ‘Working For Golf Ambassador’. Suzann joins two-time Open Champion Padraig Harrington in this role, promoting the work of The R&A worldwide.
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said he was “delighted” with the week, and that the key theme had been to maintain the excellent momentum being made towards achieving the aim of reaching one million youngsters per year by 2013.
The newly-named ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme, with the support of HSBC, is a major boost for grass roots junior golf.
Mike Round said: “With all the players involved this week, from Colin Montgomerie to Ernie Els, and all the happy young children we spoke to who are now highly enthusiastic about golf, this was a fantastic week for the Golf Foundation team.
“An undoubted highlight was the announcement of the significant support for Golf Roots from HSBC. Their joint contribution with The R&A will help us to expand our already proven junior grass roots development strategy in schools, communities and clubs in support of the national plans for the growth of the game in England, Scotland and Wales.
“The R&A has been a great supporter of our work and this Open week has allowed us to showcase our HSBC Golf Roots programme and raise our profile as the leading golf charity. A big thanks to The R&A and all our visitors to the R&A Swingzone, from the stars to all the youngsters and their families.”