PGA Professional Pennock at the Heart of Dementia Initiative
It could have been a scene from any golf club from Great Britain and Ireland as a small group of golfers clipped shots of varying standard down the practice ground. Only this was no ordinary session at Seckford Golf Club, to the east of Ipswich in Suffolk. For PGA professional and Suffolk PGA secretary Tony Pennock it was one of the most fulfilling and exciting days of his career as he oversaw the launch of an initiative for golfers living with dementia.
It was also an afternoon of raw emotion for Pennock – a former PGA in England, East captain – who has extensive first-hand knowledge of the disability.
“My mum has had dementia for 11 years,” he explained. “It’s been the most dreadful journey you could ever imagine and now my dad’s been in a home for two years with it too – he was her carer before. My mum and dad don’t know who I am; it just breaks your heart.”
But Pennock, in his words, is ‘a doer’ and witnessing his parents’ dementia prompted a desire for him to find some positives in a situation he was finding extremely hard to deal with.
Initially this led him to his beloved Ipswich Town. The EFL club had a café at their Portman Road ground where people living with dementia, as well as their carers, could meet and celebrate their football passion by looking through memorabilia and chatting about the good times from the 1960s, 70s and 80s when the Blues won trophies at home and abroad.
Ex-Town and England stars such as Terry Butcher and Mick Mills visited to enjoy the warm environment that Pennock absorbed and contributed to, not least by taking in a multi-point putting board for attendees to try.
One thing led to another after he also got to know Wendy Chard from the private care company Home Instead and the pair discussed what else could be done with golf for people living with dementia.
After all, as the general manager of Seckford Golf Club, he was in an appropriate position from which to drive forward an initiative.
“I’m not the expert and don’t have this facility, so it was really, ‘how could we get together?’” said Chard, head of community engagement for Home Instead. “Tony was so enthusiastic. He’s been really good, really supportive…he keeps saying ‘Yes’.”
The result of those discussions is a once-a-month golf-oriented event at Seckford that began earlier this month.
The mayor of Woodbridge, among other local dignitaries, was on hand to cut the ribbon for the launch before the party headed for the practice ground and the putting green. Some had played golf before, others were less sure but the enjoyment of all was obvious. Even the mayor, in full regalia, had a crack!
In among the group was Lyall, a man of Carnoustie who – as a young lad – could recall seeing Ben Hogan in his hometown during the week of the American star’s victory in the Open Championship on the fabled Scottish links in 1953.
Lyall grew up as a keen golfer but had not picked up a club for “some years” before needing little persuasion to turn up at Pennock’s session.
“When we were school kids, the council allowed us to play the Burnside course for nothing,” he said of his childhood days back in Carnoustie. “We used to go and play any time we felt like it.”
At Seckford, it was as if Lyall was back on the hallowed turf of his youth, compressing sweetly struck 7-irons down the practice ground. With a grip that Hogan would have appreciated, he turned his shoulder back-and-through time and again to wow a receptive ‘gallery’ stood behind him.
“Most of the shots went roughly in the direction they were supposed to go,” the canny Scot said with a chuckle. “Swinging the club after such a long time, it’s great. I did enjoy it – very much. I think I’ll come back.”
Lyall’s pleasure at the exercise was evident by the size of the smile on his face. Everyone seemed to be deriving pleasure from the session…probably no one more than Pennock who, along with his wife Jacqui, had devised the day, recruited volunteers from Seckford (and beyond) and provided refreshments, including a magnificent cake.
“It was quite honestly one of the best days of my life,” said Pennock. “I’m so proud of my club, our supporters, and staff. I’m even quite proud of myself.”
PGA Partners with BGIA to Grow the Game of Golf through PGA Play Initiative
The Professional Golfers’ Association has agreed a long-term, strategic partnership with the British Golf Industry Association (BGIA) that will see both organisations working together to promote the game and increase participation in the UK and Ireland.
The PGA’s new PGA Play platform – which enables connections between its pros and those looking for lessons, as well as providing instructional and inspirational golf content – will be at the heart of this collaboration, with BGIA members supporting and promoting both PGA Play and PGA professionals to their customers and audiences.
The BGIA is the lead trade body representing UK manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of golf products and services. Its members include some of the biggest brands in the industry, with these companies enjoying a long-standing and vital relationship with PGA professionals working in golf facilities across the UK and Ireland.
This strategic alliance builds on last year’s announcement that The PGA was to join the BGIA, bringing together two naturally aligned organisations with an expressed aim of collaborating to support and champion growth across all aspects of the game.
The partnership enables BGIA to get behind and support a key growth initiative – PGA Play – that is helping to encourage more people to get into golf, as well as making the game more enjoyable for those already playing by helping them to improve through lessons.
PGA chief executive Robert Maxfield said: “I’m delighted we are partnering with the BGIA to help increase participation and promote golf even more widely. Collaborating with the BGIA and its membership will enable us to work together to help grow the game and reach an even greater audience of would-be and improving golfers. We look forward to working with them on this exciting initiative.”
With a combined reach of millions, BGIA members enjoy a huge opportunity to promote golf to the widest possible audience through PGA Play, and this collaboration will see them not only driving awareness of the platform but also sharing instruction content from their playing and coaching ambassadors to inspire more people to try lessons or activities hosted by PGA professionals.
Martin Wild, BGIA chairman, said: “The BGIA is delighted to support the PGA’s new PGA Play Platform. This strategic partnership of two of the game’s most influential stakeholders is something that excites our members greatly. Golf enjoyed an incredible boost during Covid and it is important that we not only retain but continue to grow participation.
“The PGA Play platform will play a major part in promoting our wonderful game and encourage more people to take it up. With some exciting developments for the platform in the pipeline, the BGIA and its membership will play a major part in its promotion through their incredible reach to golfing consumers.”
Recognising the many benefits of custom-fitting to golfers looking to improve, PGA Play will also provide details of fitting events being hosted by PGA professionals in association and on behalf of the major golf brands that are part of the BGIA. This will be supplemented by publication on PGA Play of a wide range of educational information and content on the subject, helping golfers to better understand the importance and impact of custom-fitting.
Master Pro Blenkarne’s hands on involvement with revolutionary golf glove
PGA Master professional Nigel Blenkarne has acquired the exclusive rights to market a golf glove in Great Britain and Ireland that can improve distance, combat the ill-effects of arthritic hands, and will raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK.
Invented in the USA, Copper Tech golf gloves were voted one of the best and most innovative new products at the 2022 PGA Merchandise Show and boast a host of benefits, not least having the capacity to enable golfers to hit the ball further.
Blenkarne, the 15th to attain Master Professional status who is attached to the Bristol Golf Club, explained. “Many golfers grip the club too tightly which results in the hands not working effectively. gHowever, the glove’s non-slip woven silicone pattern and tacky surface improves the grip and enables golfers to maintain a better hold on the club throughout their swing.
“This ensures the hands work more effectively and there’s a noticeable gain in distance.”
Blenkarne is marketing the garment in partnership with businessman Simon Hawkins and is benefitting from another of its attributes.
As the name suggests, each glove is infused with copper to help increase circulation and relieve joint and muscle pain in arthritic hands which makes playing golf difficult and painful.
“I have a touch of arthritis in my left thumb, and I don’t feel it as much when I’m wearing the glove,” he added. Another benefit is that, unlike gloves made of leather, Copper Tech gloves do not lose their shape when wet and can be put in the washing machine.”
In addition, each glove is made with form flex technology designed with a compression fit so that one size fits either a male or female hand and helps prevent strain and fatigue by keeping muscles and joints warm.
However, extra-small and extra-large sizes are available for those with unusually small or large hands and the form-fit ensures the glove maintains its size and, unlike leather varieties, does not stretch. All of which improves the glove’s durability and makes them more cost-effective.
These benefits have not escaped the attention of some of Blenkarne’s high-profile PGA peers.
“Former European Tour players Andrew Murray and 2022 PGA Cup captain DJ Russell are ambassadors for Copper Tech UK,” he continued.
Describing the glove as a game-changer that helps him gain distance, Russell said: “I’ve always relied heavily on good contact with the golf club and using my hands to produce the shots I want.
“The amazing contact I get with the Copper Tech glove helps me greatly as does the secure feel that allows me to grip lighter and generate more clubhead speed with less effort. As a result, I’ve added some much-needed extra distance without losing feel or control.
“Equally exciting is the perfect fit the gloves maintain without stretching, their durability, longevity, washability and amazing therapeutic qualities for those with hand problems and pains.
“They also grip just as well in the wet – it’s a truly amazing glove that really is a game-changer that can help send golfers to a higher playing level.”
Cameron Clark, Russell’s predecessor as PGA Cup captain and the head pro at Moor Hall Golf Club in the West Midlands, is another pro enthused by Copper Tech.
Clark has agreed to stock the glove, likewise Aberdovey Golf Club head pro Andrew Humphreys. He has arranged to have the club’s logo reproduced on the garment and Blenkarne is looking for other pros and clubs to follow suit and benefit from what is an extremely attractive profit margin.
“We’re selling the gloves on our website for £22.50, a price that includes carriage,” he explained.
“But pros can buy one from us for half that figure, which represents a 100 per cent mark-up.
“In this respect, we are committed to maintaining the RRP to protect the PGA pro’s margin. Similarly, we are supporting them by not selling the gloves via online golf discount stores or retail chains.
“We are also supporting the campaign to beat prostate cancer and 50p from each glove sold will be donated to Prostate Cancer UK.”
For more information visit www.coppertechuk.co.uk.