Honour for golfing stalwart

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ST ANNES golfer Paul Eales received a PGA recognition award for his outstanding contribution to golf at a fund-raising lunch at Manchester’s Hilton Hotel.

Money raised from the lunch, where Premier League referee Howard Webb was a guest speaker, will go towards supporting the PGA Benevolent Fund which is a charity set up to help PGA members in times of hardship.

Eales, 49, is a stalwart of the PGA North Region having enjoyed a wide-ranging career, excelling as a player, coach and also as a respected golf pundit with the BBC on both TV and radio.

He began his career as an assistant at Royal Lytham and St Annes under Eddie Birchenough, who retires at the end of the month, and graduated through the Challenge Tour to the European Tour.

He played in seven Open Championships and one United States Open and it was after missing the cut at the 1996 at Royal Lytham that he was asked to be a summariser for the BBC.

This led to a successful career behind the microphone where he remains a popular and familiar figure in the media world - at this year’s Open at Lytham he worked on the in-house radio service.

A member of the European Tour board of directors, he is support coach to the England Golf under-18 boys’ squad and lead coach for the England Golf North West squads for boys and girls aged 16 to 18.

“The award came out of the blue - I had been asked to do a question-and-answer but once I saw the award I was blown away.

“It is nice doing your day-to-day stuff and for your own association to recognise that work,” said Eales who was presented with his accolade by PGA vice-chairman John Heggarty.

“I have been very fortunate in that opportunities have come my way and as one door has shut another has opened and I’ve recently experienced that with the academic side of things at the University of Birmingham which has given me a greater insight into coaching.”

Eales is midway through a post-graduate diploma in sport pedagogy (science of art and education) and as he nears 50 is once again looking at playing again on the European Seniors Tour.

“The post graduate diploma has been a real eye-opener, learning how coaching is not just a case of ticking boxes but really finding out what individual needs are and working towards those goals,” he said.

“I’ve also got my 50th birthday just around the corner so I’ve got to keep playing but it’s a case of trying to find the time.”

PGA North Region secretary Graham Maly commented: “I’ve known Paul for many years and he has been an outstanding player in the region winning a couple of our big tournaments.

“He has also developed a successful career as a coach and as a media pundit and is a credit to the PGA and richly deserves this recognition.”

Also honoured at the PGA occasion was Manchester United and England soccer legend Sir Bobby Charlton who picked up an award for his service to football and sport.