An enterprising new charity, Golfing4Life, recently staged its first-ever Media Invitational event - Rob Smith took part
A new charity to help young golfers fulfil their potential is gaining momentum and recently staged its inaugural Media Invitational at the excellent Centurion Club in Hertfordshire. I was lucky enough to be invited by Golfing4Life and was greatly impressed by all those involved; its founders, its coaches and organisers, and of course, the young golfers themselves.
Golfing4Life seeks to develop the talents and skills of youngsters who have the potential for greatness but for whom lack of finances would be a barrier. Their aim is to
- Achieve and maximise potential and golfing ambitions
- Create a platform from which they can grow as a person
- Learn from accomplished players and internationally acclaimed coaching staff
- Display magnanimity with life education and charitable aspiration
The day began with welcomes and short explanations by James Byers, one of the charity’s founders, and by Alex Saary who has been coaching elite youngsters for 20 years. Alex believes that “G4L is a fantastic project which blends a perfect balance of helping elite juniors achieve their dreams, providing coaching for those juniors who would not normally be able to afford it, and raising money for very worthwhile causes.”
As I warmed up on the practice green, I fell into conversation with Bill Curbishley who is a Trustee of the Teenage Cancer Trust, another extremely worthwhile charity that works closely alongside Golfing4Life. Bill manages The Who and is a very successful music and film producer. He explained to me that when touring the world, it was golf that kept him grounded. He has played many of the finest courses all over the world, feels very lucky, and is keen to give something back. His enthusiasm could not be greater, and he is clearly committed to the future of this new enterprise.
I was excited to be drawn in a 3-ball alongside Marco Penge from Goodwood, and Alex Allbut from Croham Hurst. I had first come across Marco when playing in the Goodwood Revival Golf Challenge last year. He plays off plus 4 and is a member of the England squad. He lost in a play-off for this year’s French Amateur, shot a course record 64 in the Irish Amateur at Royal Dublin, and won this year’s Sunningdale Foursomes alongside girlfriend Sophie Lamb. Alex has come down from six to scratch in the last couple of years and is still improving and working extremely hard on his game. In my twenty years of membership, I have yet to win a trophy at Tandridge!
Although still young, the course at Centurion Club is maturing very well with the fairways better than ever. It is an exciting course with plenty of risk and reward and many very attractive holes. Both players impressed me hugely from start to finish with their incredible ball striking, length from the tee, and controlled short game.
At the closing hole, 547 yards into a slight breeze, it took me three of my best woods to get just short of the green; Marco was in a greenside bunker in two! As we walked off the green, I felt privileged to have played a round with the two youngsters.
The aim of the Golfing4Life is not just the development of playing skills, but rather a holistic approach which includes the development of the golfers as people. From my experience with Marco and Alex, they are already succeeding in this as the two 18 year-olds could not have been more friendly, interesting and, I believe very importantly, interested.
As the good work develops, there are plans to feature warm weather training over the winter, more tournaments in 2017 such as the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters, and a series of invitational and Pro-Am events which will allow the youngsters to play with accomplished Tour professionals and interact with media, sponsors and important figures in the golf industry.
Three of the stars of tomorrow recorded hugely impressive scores of 5-under, with Ben Jones from Brampton Heath winning a play-off to take the trophy. Golfing4Life is already making great strides and looks set to help young golfers well into the future.
For more information, please visit their website, Golfing4Life.com, or call James Byers on 0201 720 5236.