With nominations for the #EGAwards2019 in full flow, our Captain and England Golf Young Ambassador of the Year, Liam Ridgill has caught up with England Golf to see what taking the title meant to him, and how his year has shaped up since 'that' night in February.. Read more:
"Winning the Young Ambassador of the Year award came as a bit of a shock. I was surprised in late 2017 to be nominated and I truly didn’t believe I would actually go on to take such a prestigious accolade. It was a fantastic start to 2018 as I took over as Club Captain at Drax Golf Club, the youngest captain the club has had and also the first to be both Junior and Club Captain.
The award came a catalyst for success, not only personally but for the club and more importantly in my eyes, the game as a whole. I have always aimed to help modernise the game and attract younger players to all golf clubs. After all, it is a fantastic social sport that has served me well since picking up my first 7-iron at the age of 8.
I’m happy to say that through further initiatives from members benefit schemes and other developments at the club, we have seen 34 new members this year – with the majority never been members of golf clubs before! While it has been fantastic welcoming new players to the game, I have tried to focus on keeping people playing and involved in the sport. In the bust 21st century, some of us unfortunately don’t find the time to play golf, mixing it with work and family time; this is why in March 2018 we at Drax introduced “Sticks at 6”. A new 9 hole social gathering which was run by myself every Wednesday from March to mid-September to encourage people to pick up their clubs for 9 holes at 6 o’clock. This was also a great way to integrate new members with longer serving members of the club; surprisingly two of the new members, off the back of our first Sticks at 6 managed to reach the semi-finals of our doubles knockout competition.
From the success of this year, I encourage all clubs in England to host their own Sticks at 6 and keep their members engaged with the club.
As you can imagine, being a club captain at such a young age has been a happy challenge. However it has now put me in good stead, along with the award to start looking at the future of golf in terms of Junior players. It is sad to say that when I first joined Drax as a 12 year old, we had 40+ Juniors, but over the years the number has unfortunately dwindled. My focus for 2019 and the following years will be around encoring and supporting the younger generation of players and try to encourage those of school/university age to take up the sport we all know and love.
I’m hoping to draw on the award to show people of a young age that golf is a game for everyone. I believe that England Golf have fantastic values that can be relayed to a wide audience using all forms of social media. Drax members have come to embrace platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and it is now an invaluable part of our marketing strategy.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at England Golf for their help and support this year, with a special mention to the Yorkshire Club Support Officers Tom and Rob, as well as Richard Brown. Their knowledge and vision has been greatly appreciated this year."