THE man who has been a driving force on the golf scene for more than 30 years has received a lifetime achievement award from the game’s top governing body in England.
As boss of the 3 Hammers complex in Staffordshire, Ian Bonser has helped thousands of people follow their golfing dreams.
And now his remarkable efforts have been recognised with the award of England Golf’s Lifetime Service Award, sponsored by The Telegraph.
Bonser, a committed volunteer in the sport, received his accolade at the England Golf Awards, sponsored by adidas Golf, at the Royal Lancaster London.
He received a special message from leading ladies professional Dame Laura Davies, who told him: “Congratulations Ian on an amazing achievement. What you have done for golf and all the time you have put in means this award is thoroughly deserved.”
Hundreds of guests from across the sport applauded his contribution to golf over the last 32 years – a run which he insists is by no means over.
England Golf Chief Executive Nick Pink said: “Ian is a pioneer. He is passionate about golf and has made an incredible impact at a local and national level, and we are delighted to present him with our Lifetime Service Award.”
Bonser, a five-handicapper, learned his own golf as an 11-year-old at 3 Hammers.
By the time he was 25 he owned the centre and had embarked on his plan to create “a place where young people and adults can pursue their dreams, aspirations and goals in a fun, accessible and affordable environment.”
Over 32 years his ambition has touched countless people.
Each year, over 200,000 people visit the centre. In the last four years 30,000 adults and 10,000 juniors have had lessons at 3 Hammers. Thousands of pupils in 12 schools are introduced to the sport.
3 Hammers has won awards, has started European Tour players on their journey, and has supplied local golf clubs with a steady stream of keen, new members.
But, as well as investing more than £1m to create a state of the art centre, Bonser has also given freely of his own time to help grow the game.
He acts as a consultant to several local golf clubs, helping develop memberships and secure a brighter future for golf. He had also advised the UK Golf Club Owners Association, the government and the Treasury on issues facing the industry.
And he’s always looking for ways to reach out to the community. So, in June, 3 Hammers will fund prostate cancer tests for up to 1,000 local men.
Previously Ian’s team has worked with the Wolverhampton Community Trust on a diabetes project and a scheme to help young offenders to use golf to transition back into society. Another project helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to build their confidence.
Bonser commented: “I am so incredibly proud that England Golf has recognised all we have done by honouring us with this award.
“This is a fabulous honour for me personally, but also for everyone that has worked at 3 Hammers over the years.
“I have been very fortunate to have worked with some great people, but none more so than the incredible team I have today. So a big to them all because I could not have done it without them.”
Caption: Bonser, right, received his award from Adam Sills, head of sport at The Telegraph.