National charity the Golf Foundation has presented two of its major awards with a distinct #GolfForGood theme for 2021: one to a famous world golfer and leader who ‘walked the walk’ to inspire us all in 2020, the second to a young golfer who has shown fantastic support to others in his community during a most challenging year for all.
At Wentworth Club on Wednesday (August 8), on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship, Thomas Bjorn was presented with the Golf Foundation’s Spirit of Golf Award, the most prestigious award of the charity that introduces children to golf from all backgrounds, creating golfers, because golf can change lives.
Thomas Bjorn has been recognised for his excellent career in golf but also for his epic #Wentworth2Wales 210km walk which created awareness for the Golf Foundation and also raised £20,000 for the charity’s work to grow the game in schools, communities and golf clubs.
In the second award at Wentworth, for his outstanding contribution as a junior golfer at his club and in the community, inaugural winner Tom Paterson of The Cave Hotel and Golf Resort (Boughton GC) in Kent was clearly delighted to receive his award from Thomas Bjorn himself.
Thomas Bjorn, the Spirit of Golf & #GolfForGood
Former victorious Ryder Cup Captain and 15-time winner on the European Tour, Thomas Bjorn is a highly deserving recipient of the Golf Foundation’s Spirit of Golf Award, which includes former winners Tony Jacklin (2008), Tom Watson (2013), Justin Rose (2015), and Dame Laura Davies (2016). Thomas also plays golf with a style, tough competitive integrity, and a sense of humour that reaches out to others of all ages.
In the late summer of 2020 Thomas, with only limited ‘lockdown’ walking for training, embarked on his four-day, 210km walk from #Wentworth2Wales – raising £40,000 to support young people through charities UNICEF and the Golf Foundation. It was a key element of the then emerging message of the European Tour for #GolfForGood support of communities, a hashtag the Golf Foundation has been proud to attach to its regional projects helping youngsters from all backgrounds through the power of golf.
Thomas’s walk also shone a light on the Golf Foundation to many watching families new to golf, and to established golf fans of all ages. Famous voices: Captain Sir Tom Moore, Jurgen Klopp, Niall Horan and Rory McIlroy were among those sending in encouragement. Juniors from St Pierre Marriott GC cheered him on near the end of his walk when Thomas was struggling with blisters and fatigue – and they kept him smiling.
Golf Foundation CEO Brendon Pyle said: “This was a fantastic gesture by Thomas to offer his time and energy on his walk, and to make us a joint recipient of the fundraising with UNICEF. Our charity team is so grateful to him. For his battling walk in the year of Covid-19, for all his achievements in golf, and for his competitive edge, humour and sense of fair play, we wish to honour Thomas with our Spirit of Golf Award.”
Given the #GolfForGood theme of the walk, it was particularly fitting that this award could be presented with European Tour support during the BMW PGA Championship.
Recalling the timing of his charity walk, Thomas Bjorn said: “At that moment in time we were all uncertain about what was ahead of us, and I wanted to support the Golf Foundation and the work it does to get young people into golf. I think that we have learned during Covid-19 that golf is such a great sport for everyone, and after the lockdowns it’s great to get more kids playing outside again.
“The Golf Foundation gives an opportunity for young kids who wouldn’t normally get in touch with golf to try the sport. This shows golf is not just for a certain type of demographic and I think that is very important. I am really proud of the walk, but I’m also really proud of the work we can do together with the Golf Foundation to do something good for the game of golf, so thank you all very much.”
New award celebrates Dinah Oxley – Tom Paterson is first winner
The Golf Foundation’s second award presented at Wentworth was made in honour of the generous legacy donation made to the charity by Dinah Oxley, one of the finest amateur golfers this country has ever produced. A British Girl Champion (twice), four-time member of the GB&I Curtis Cup team, and British Golfer of the Year in 1970, in her later years Dinah dedicated her time to encouraging youngsters to enjoy the game.
Tom Paterson, aged 15, is a highly deserving first winner and received his award at the presentation from Thomas Bjorn.
Everyone at The Cave Hotel and Golf Resort knows and admires Tom. He represents the club’s junior team across Kent and also represents the County, playing off a 2 handicap.
Tom is known for great team talks before matches, he organises the practice coaching sessions, runs fun-filled sessions for the younger juniors, and also plans and then delivers free lessons for the kids at his local primary school. He is described by his club’s junior organiser as having an amazing rapport with the youngsters and has been a “fantastic” Junior Captain at the club.
During the pandemic with the courses closed, Tom also raised £400 for the charity MIND, by setting himself golf targets and challenges during lockdown. He channeled his passion into helping others, setting up a fun daily blog on how his charity challenge was progressing: to play for an hour every day outdoors whatever the weather (wind, rain and snow!) for 100 days straight.
The Golf Foundation’s Brendon Pyle said: “This has been great to thank Tom personally and his family for the great work he has done for his club and in the community. He is clearly a generous, caring young man who wants to help others through his passion for golf, while expecting nothing in return.
“We are delighted to award the first Dinah Oxley Spirit of Golf Award to Tom Paterson, and we are sure that Dinah, who was so supportive of young golfers, would be impressed with Tom’s remarkable attitude and his great support of the young golfers around him.”
After receiving his award from Thomas Bjorn, Tom Paterson said: “I feel very honoured and humble, it’s the best experience of my life to be recognised like this by the Golf Foundation and to receive this award from Thomas today. I am very passionate about growing the game and helping young golfers and I’ll keep doing this. I’d also like to thank the family of Dinah Oxley for being so supportive of me today. They have been brilliant.”
Special thanks to Burridge Trophies for supplying the excellent Spirit of Golf Award trophy for this event.
See more on the Golf Foundation at www.golf-foundation.org