Beverly Lewis, a PGA Master Professional and the Association’s first female captain, has passed away at the age of 71 following a long and brave battle against leukaemia.
Beverly is one of just two women to attain PGA Master Professional status, but it is no exaggeration to say she became a master of the many facets of the golfing world she tackled after taking up the game as an 18-year-old.
Having learned its rudiments on a pitch and putt course in her native Essex, Beverly was the county’s ladies amateur champion within four years. She joined Thorndon Park Golf Club, Brentwood, 12 months later and remained a member for the rest of her life.
Beverly turned professional in 1978 and was a founder member of the Women’s PGA, an organisation she chaired between 1979 and 1981, and in 1986, four years after becoming a PGA professional.
She won two WPGA events during her eight years on tour before turning her attention to coaching – for the English Ladies’ Golf Association, county teams and players of all abilities, from aspiring young professionals to club members.
Beverly’s extensive knowledge of the game and the effortless and easy-to-understand way she imparted it resulted in her broadcasting for the BBC, Australia’s Channel 7 and ESPN.
She also contributed to golf magazines, wrote 10 books on the game’s technique, was an accomplished and in-demand after-dinner speaker and, more recently, became a qualified R&A referee.
In addition, Beverly was a PGA professional at four clubs in Essex: JJB Golf Centre, Romford; Langdon Hills Golf Club, Bulphan; Garon Park Golf Complex, Southend-on-Sea; and Brentwood Park Golf Club, Brentwood.
This wealth of experience and the respect with which she was held in the game made her a natural choice to become The PGA’s first female captain in 2005.
The appointment followed a discussion between the then PGA chairman Dr Phil Weaver and chief executive Sandy Jones during the 2002 US Masters.
“It was customary for us to put forward candidates to be captain to the PGA Board,” Dr Weaver recalled. “The pair of us were sitting by the 16th green at Augusta watching Chris di Marco when the topic as to who would succeed John Yeo in 2005 was raised.
“As the role had been undertaken by a man for more than a century since the Association was formed we felt it was time a woman was considered, especially given the increasing number becoming PGA Professionals and the rise of the women’s game.
“In that respect Beverly was the obvious choice. She was highly respected in the Association and the game, had a wealth of experience and the Board was unanimous in its agreement when we put her name forward. It was a ground-breaking move at the time and Beverly was stunned. Initially she thought it was a wind-up! But, as we expected, she proved to be an outstanding captain.”
Beverly was preceded in the role by John Yeo, Dave Thomas and Alan Walker, a friend and colleague for more than 40 years.
Paying tribute to her, he said: “Beverly was one of the most charming, considerate and passionate people I have ever had the privilege to meet in my life as a PGA professional. Her passing today is one of the saddest days I can remember.
“Her zest for life with her husband Ken and her love of golf was unparalleled and my thoughts and prayers go out to him who must be devastated at the loss of his cherished wife.
“Beverly accomplished so much in her life as a tournament professional, respected coach, TV pundit, author of numerous golf books, committee person and of course the first lady in the history of the Professional Golfers’ Association to be elected its captain.
“I cannot think of any area of professional golf in which Bev didn’t have an interest and I will miss our chats and emails between us on various golf topics.
“In the past months Beverly had made good progress and was once again playing regular golf at her beloved Thorndon Park Golf Club, but just a couple of weeks ago we received the heart-breaking news the leukaemia had returned - we were all so shocked.
“I will remember Beverly as a beacon for all that is good in a person - someone who always did the right thing, acted with courtesy, humility and professionalism and her enthusiasm for golf and life was overwhelming. We have lost a beautiful person.”
Robert Maxfield, The PGA’s chief executive, also paid tribute and added: “Beverly showed what could be achieved by PGA professionals.
“In doing so, she was a credit to the Association and the world of golf. She was unfailingly courteous, friendly, willing to pass on her extensive knowledge of the game and always generous with her time.
“We have lost a friend as well as a valued and distinguished PGA Member and it’s fitting the award for the foremost female PGA Assistant of the Year, the Beverly Lewis Trophy, bears her name.
“On behalf of The PGA I extend our heartfelt and sincere condolences to Ken, her husband, wonderful family and legion of friends.”
PGA installs state-of-the-art Foresight Sports simulator
The PGA has reinforced its status as a leader in golf education and coaching after transforming its teaching space with the installation of a state-of-the-art golf simulator at its National Training Academy based at The Belfry.
Designed, built and installed by Foresight Sports Europe, the brand-new simulator will be used to enhance education for Members across The PGA Training and CPD Programmes.
The bespoke simulator is powered by the GCQuad, the world’s first quadrascopic launch monitor, and Foresight’s FSX 2018 software, to provide real-time ball and club data. Coupled with a Swing Catalyst pressure plate and camera system, the technology will be used to deliver unrivalled education on coaching, fitting and golf technology to thousands of existing and trainee golf professionals each year.
The newly upgraded facility will be in full use for the start of the new PGA academic year in October.
David Colclough, head of coaching & sports science at The PGA, commented: “The new golf studio here at the PGA National Training Academy is the epitome of ‘excellence’.
“As you walk through the door, you cannot fail to be impressed with the look and feel of the space, but the real excitement comes from seeing and experiencing it in action. The opportunities this state-of-the-art studio provides will enable us to offer our PGA Assistants in-training, and qualified PGA Professionals, a learning experience of the highest standard.”
The installation of the simulator coincides with the announcement that Foresight Sports Europe is now an official Supporter of PGA Education. This will see Foresight Sports technology become an integral part of the PGA Education Programme.
Edward Doling, director of Foresight Sports Europe, added: “Foresight Sports has been working at the cutting-edge of technology since 2010, developing the most accurate, reliable and versatile launch monitors on the market.
“Our data is trusted by thousands of coaches, fitters and golf professionals worldwide and we are delighted that The PGA chose to invest in Foresight Sports technology for their Centre of Excellence. We are excited to have the opportunity to work with them to contribute to the future of PGA Professionals in Great Britain and Ireland.”
PGA Pros Win Prizes
A PGA professional whose efforts to get youngsters into golf include trawling car boot sales to find clubs for them has won the Golf Foundation’s most prestigious award.
Ivan Oliver, who is attached to Scarborough South Cliff Golf Club, Yorkshire, and supports multiple clubs on the county’s coast and East Riding with coaching, has been presented with the Sir Henry Cotton Award.
He received it during the Golf Foundation’s annual awards ceremony at Wentworth on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship.
The award, named after the three-time Open Championship winner who was one of the Golf Foundation’s founders, is presented to an individual who has demonstrated meritorious service to junior golf for a sustained period. Oliver, 45, ticks all the boxes in that respect.
“Ivan has engaged with and reached so many different individuals,” said Brendon Pyle, Golf Foundation chief executive. “Each year he provides approximately 16,000 children with access to golf through the various activities he delivers within the local schools, community and at the golf club.
“He also links and works with more than 40 primary and secondary schools annually. These are via various mediums; from schools’ taster sessions and coaching packages to Level 1/2/3 festivals and club-based sessions.
“In 2018, Ivan delivered a countless number of Tri-Golf festivals as well as running and leading two Level 3 competitions across active Humber and north Yorkshire.
Oliver also uses less conventional methods and venues to promote the game.
“Ivan is always exploring new projects and initiatives – many of which he creates himself,” Pyle added. “He has been known for a number of years to have delivered golf on beaches, on caravan sites, in local parks and crazy golf courses. He also visits car boot sales to source clubs for youngsters to use.”
Commenting on his award, Oliver said: “I started playing at a very young age and want to give something back.
“My aim is to find access so that everyone can play and engage with as many children as possible. It’s the future of our game and it will be in a really strong place if we can achieve that.”
Oliver estimates he spends in the region of 70 to 80 hours a week either coaching golfers of all ages and abilities as well as promoting the game.
“It’s fairly intense but I love every minute of it,” he added. ‘I’m effectively a community golf coach so I work with multiple clubs, school sports partnerships and county authorities. They are all part of a team situation we have.
“My aim is not necessarily to produce good players but enable children who would never get the opportunity to play the chance to do so. It’s really more about engagement than producing top end players.
“We’ve got many examples of children who have engaged in golf and, through its learning platform, have gone on to university. They may never have had that opportunity otherwise, so it’s changing lives like the Golf Foundation says.”
The Golf Foundation is the nationally recognised charity that helps young people enjoy the playing and personal benefits of golf through its HSBC Golf Roots programme in schools, golf clubs and communities.
In addition, to Oliver, Iain Fulton, a PGA professional at Belton Woods Golf Club, Lincolnshire, was the recipient of an individual award.
He won the Sinclair Award, which is presented to a PGA professional who, as a direct result of his or her efforts, has made a major impact in the development of grass roots junior golf.
“Iain has made a significant impact in the development of grass roots junior golf at Belton Woods and the local community in 2018,” said Pyle. “He was one of the first coaches to join the HSBC Golf Roots Coaches network, has delivered StreetGolf and Tri-Golf to many local schools, and worked with Grantham College of Further Education to offer golf activity to disabled students.
“He has worked with Girlguiding UK to encourage more girls into the sport, delivered Girls Golf Rocks activity and ambassador training.
“And his Academy has seen an increase of 62 per cent. From a total membership of 68, the club now has 38 active juniors which has increased by 75 per cent from the start of 2017.”
Reflecting on the award, Fulton said: “I’m surprised and very honoured. I love what I do – adult coaching gives me satisfaction but there’s nothing like seeing a youngster love the sport like I do. “Seeing a smiling face when a youngster gets the ball airborne is why I do it. My catchment area is not that well-populated – we’re in a small place in the middle of Lincolnshire so you have to be proactive.
“I’ve also had a lot of support from Stacey (Mitchell) the Golf Foundation’s regional development officer for our area. And the initiatives the Golf Foundation produce are fantastic.”
Meanwhile, five PGA pros were party to four other awards.
Alan Johnston and Sarah Sutcliffe were instrumental in Tickenham Golf Club near Bristol winning the Burroughs Award for its success in encouraging young people with disabilities, particularly autism, to enjoy golf.
Sally Hinton-Lewis played a key role in the team at Close House Golf Club, Northumberland, introducing more girls into golf via the Girls Golf Rocks programme and winning the Laddie Lucas Award.
The Critchley Award went to Alex MacGregor and the team at Addington Court Golf Centre, near Croydon, for its success in creating opportunities for young golfers and developing junior players, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with disabilities.
The work of Brian Mudge and the team at Overstone Park Golf Club, Northamptonshire, in creating a successful scholarship programme that has resulted in a significant increase in junior membership was rewarded by the Bonallack Award.