PGA News

Sandy Lyle joins select PGA band

Two-time major winner and one of Scotland’s greatest golfers, Sandy Lyle, is the 2019 recipient of the PGA Recognition Award for his outstanding contribution to golf.

Shrewsbury-born Lyle picked up the accolade as guest of honour during the PGA’s annual fundraising lunch in Scotland last month.

The 61-year-old follows in the footsteps of some of golf’s most accomplished players to be presented with the award, including Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and 2020 Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington.

Lyle turned professional in 1977 and was one of the key players responsible for the resurgence of European golf in the 1980s.

He went on to claim no fewer than 18 European Tour titles and won his first major at the 1985 Open Championship at Royal St George’s, becoming the first British player to lift the famous Claret Jug since Tony Jacklin in 1969.

Three years later, Lyle put his name in the history books by becoming the first British player to win The Masters.

Lyle was instrumental in two European Ryder Cup victories, including Europe’s first win on American soil at Muirfield Village, Ohio, in 1987. In total Lyle played in five Ryder Cups and was a vice-captain to Ian Woosnam when Europe recorded an emphatic victory over the United States at the K Club in Ireland in 2006.

“This award is for my achievements over the years and I’ll hopefully be ready to go for more awards in years to come,” said Lyle. “This is a nice one to start with and it is nice to be recognised when I am still around and kicking.

“I still have my dad’s old PGA badge that used to go on the front bumper of the car next to the AA badge. When my dad was a PGA man, that was the only thing that was around as the PGA Tour hadn’t started. Once you joined The PGA, you were in the syndicate of what was going on in golf.”

Winners of PGA’s flagship tournaments to be crowned at the Home of Golf

The winners of this year’s flagship tournaments for individuals – the PGA Professional and Women’s PGA Professional Championships – will be crowned simultaneously, appropriately at the Home of Golf.

As was the case in 2009, when they were staged at Blairgowrie in Scotland, the two tournaments will be contested during the same week on the Duke’s Course, St Andrews.

The battle to win the 72-hole PGA Professional Championship will take place from June 16 – 19 and its 36-hole WPGA sibling will run in tandem over the final two days.

The two events are part of a packed programme that, carrying a combined prize fund just shy of £400,000, features tried and tested venues along with some similarly challenging new ones.

It kicks off on May 13 at the Foxhills Country Club and Resort, Surrey, with the Senior PGA Professional Championship and will end in late November when The PGA Play-Offs are staged for the third year running at The PGA National – Turkey, Antalya Golf Club, in November.

Foxhills, which staged The PGA Cup in 2017 and will do so again in 2021, will be hosting the Senior PGA Professional Championship for the seventh successive year.

Meanwhile its sister club, Farleigh, will host a national final for the third year in a row. The course, which is also in Surrey, held the PGA Assistants’ Championship in 2017 and welcomes back the final of the PGA Fourball Championship in the last week of August.

The venue for this year’s PGA Assistants’ Championship contrasts sharply with Farleigh, however.  Whereas Farleigh is a parkland course from which the London skyline can be seen, the Royal Cromer Golf Club in Norfolk stands on a cliff some 300 feet above golden sands and overlooks the North Sea.

The tournament, which has been won by such golfing luminaries as Dai Rees, Harry Weetman, Peter Alliss, Tony Jacklin and Barry Lane, will be staged on the last three days of July, a week after the English PGA Championship.

Revived last year after a seven-year hiatus, that event will again be played on the Bowood PGA Course at Bowood Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort, Wiltshire.

The tournament is scheduled to be held at the resort for three years, as is the popular PGA Super 60’s Championship at its new home – Tewkesbury Park, Gloucestershire.

The resort is just one of four with a golf course to feature in the Sunday Times latest list of the Top 100 British Hotels and the 36-hole tournament will be contested there in the first week of August.

The Welsh National PGA Championship, PGA Inter-County Championship and PGA Pro-Captain Challenge are also 36-hole tournaments and will be staged as the schedule heads into autumn.

The Welsh National, sponsored by PGA Partners and leading supplier of branded golf accessories Asbri Golf for the eighth successive year, will be held at Cardiff Golf Club in mid-September.

The PGA Pro-Captain Challenge, which also benefits from sponsorship from a PGA Partner – SkyCaddie – will be staged at the Argentario Golf Resort & Spa, the home of The PGA National, Italy, in late October.

It will be the second year in succession the final of a competition that, featuring 10 regional qualifiers contested by more than 400 pairs comprising a PGA pro and his or her club captain, has been contested at the venue.

Similarly, the last tournament on the schedule to be staged on home soil, the PGA Inter-County Championship, will return to Sutton Coldfield Golf Club for a second year.

Bookended by the Welsh National PGA Championship sponsored by Asbri Golf and the SkyCaddie PGA Pro-Captain Challenge, the tournament will retain the changed format that made it such a success in 2019.

The tournament schedule also includes the increasingly popular Staysure PGA Trophy, the competition for pairs comprising a PGA pro and senior golfer. The final will be contested at a venue preceding the PGA Seniors Championship at a date and venue to be confirmed.

Charles Hine, PGA Head of National Tournaments commented, “We’re delighted to offer a fantastic schedule in 2020 which sees the addition of some excellent new venues to complement our existing ones.”

Ernest ‘Ernie’ Jones (1938 – 2019)

PGA Captain Peter Hanna has paid tribute to Ernest Jones, a predecessor in the role who has passed away at the age of 87.

Ernest, who preferred to be known as Ernie, captained The PGA from 1991–93 and was made an Honorary Member in 2001.

Hanna said: “I’m proud, as a fellow PGA of Ireland Member, to follow in Ernie’s footsteps as captain. He was a professional golfer who we, as trainees, aspired to be. He had The PGA at his heart, was very well respected in the Association, and was a gentleman in every way – both on and off the course.

“His game was always very steady and that was the way he lived his life. He was a lovely man who will be sorely missed.”

Ernie began his career as an assistant to Phil Lawlor at the Royal Curragh Golf Club, Co Kildare, in 1948 and became a PGA Member eight years later.  He was the head PGA professional at Bangor Golf Club, Co Down, for 16 years and followed up by fulfilling the same role at two of the most prestigious clubs on the island of Ireland: Royal County Down and the K Club, Co Kildare.

He spent 16 years at the former before he was head-hunted by the latter’s owner, Michael Smurfit, in advance of the 2006 Ryder Cup. In addition to being a sought after and highly-regarded club professional, Ernie was an accomplished player.

He won the Irish PGA Championship in 1964 and represented Ireland in the Canada Cup a year later. He was runner up in the Ulster Professional Championship in the same year, likewise the Irish Professional Championship in 1966. His most prestigious victory followed five years later when he prevailed in a play-off to win the Kenyan Open.

Two years earlier at Royal Birkdale in 1969, Ernie refereed one of the Ryder Cup’s most memorable encounters: the singles between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin which saw the former concede a three-foot putt on the final hole, a sporting gesture that resulted in the match ending 16 – 16.

Commenting on Ernie’s contribution to The PGA and the game of golf, Robert Maxfield, the Association’s chief executive, said: “Ernie had a stellar career both on and off the golf course.

“And whether on or off it, he was a credit to The PGA and represented everything the game stands for.

“We have lost a friend as well as a distinguished Member and on behalf of The PGA I extend our heartfelt and sincere condolences to his wife Marie and surviving children.”