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PGA South region celebrates the end of a great year


The PGA in England (South) Annual Dinner celebrated friends, fellowship, surprises, PGA Professionals and a call from one of the winners to all PGA Professionals to make sure they can handle a defibrilllator, writes Charles DeHaan.

Moving to a new venue, The Royal Automobile Club in Epsom, golfers and guests enjoyed a superb three course dinner in the elegant surroundings of the club’s Woodcote Park clubhouse. 13 teams competed on what proved to be one of the better days of weather for golf in recent weeks, the winners being Rob McGuirk’s team from Prince’s with 94 points.

On behalf of the main sponsor Virgin Atlantic, Rory Egan-Thomas, presented the winners with a pair of Virgin Atlantic tickets to any of this premium airline’s worldwide destinations.

The 2019 Virgin Atlantic PGA South Order of Merit winner, Paul Nessling, received his Order of Merit Salver and two more tickets courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.  The Cooden Beach man’s season very nearly didn’t happen at all after a lawn mower incident, so he made a particular point of thanking the surgical team that had him back playing and competing for the start of the season.

PGA South chairman Ben Blackburn and VA PGA South OoM winner Paul Nessling.

Chairman of The PGA in England (South) Ben Blackburn presented the evening’s main awards, starting with the Assistant of the Year Award for Royal Ashdown Forest’s Jonny Ingram.

Coach of the Year went to Paul Stuart whose 17 years at the London Golf Club took a new turn when he went from being the Director of Golf to starting up their Academy. Now a thriving success, Stuart showed his appreciation for the expert support he had from The PGA’s Business Relationship Officer, Fiona Champness, and Regional Manager, Sam Smith.

Charity Fundraiser of the Year had several candidates for its 2019 award, but in the first surprise of the evening, it went to Ian Pether. One of the region’s biggest supporters via his company, the CK Group, as a regular sponsor of an Order of Merit event, Ian’s an enthusiastic competitor in many Pro-Ams, and in 2019 as the Captain of Dale Hill he initiated a Captain’s Day Pro-Am raising over £11,000 for The PGA’s charity partner, Prostate Cancer UK.

Finally there was the Professional of the Year, and the one who proved to be ‘the Right Pro in the Right Place at the Right Time’ was Wildernesse’s David Green. His cool attitude and expert training with CPR and a defibrillator helped save the life of one of his club’s members, Garett Endenburg.

Summing things up, Green said: “Every year, from out of 600 golfers, over 400 die from a cardiac arrest on the UK’s golf courses, so I’m determined to see that we all try as PGA Professionals to do something about it. That means making sure we all get the required training. We’ve got the trainer and a supply of defibrillators, and now we just need every PGA Pro, not just those in the South, to get in touch – I’ll be more than happy to help them set things up at their own clubs.”