PGA in Ireland Advanced Professional, Liam Duggan, has been posthumously awarded the President’s Award for Golf Development (Individual) in recognition of his tireless efforts and huge successes in developing golf in schools and promoting inclusivity in Ireland.
Over a period of six years, Liam created an extensive system for golf coaching in schools across Ireland. This allowed thousands of children to access golf that otherwise would not be able to, engaging in a number of projects that created playing opportunities for people of all ages and physical and mental capabilities, all whilst providing employment for many PGA Professionals.
In early 2017, Liam was diagnosed with an extremely rare condition and after a short period of treatment, passed away suddenly at the University Hospital Kerry aged just 37, leaving behind his much loved wife and two children.
Nominated by the PGA in Ireland, Liam was naturally a worthy recipient of the President’s Award for Golf Development, as it aims to acknowledge the work of an individual or specific project that has excelled in developing golf.
Liam began his PGA career in 2003 and graduated with distinction having finished third, first and second out of all the trainees in the PGA of Great Britain & Ireland training programme. After a short time in the United States at Kiawah Island, the global economic climate led to interviewing for dozens of jobs and work outside of the golf industry. With few opportunities within golf arising, he felt it necessary to make his own.
In April 2011, after realising that there was not enough of a focus on juniors within golf in Ireland, Liam founded LDgolf, a freelance coaching service offering tuition in Limerick & Kerry, with a primary focus on junior coaching and development.
Seeing a clear gap in the market, he focused on delivering golf in schools creating fun and safe learning environments and positive experiences and ensuring he taught the fundamentals of golf, life skills and cognitive and affective intelligence.
This opened the floodgates and after only a few years, the programmes were becoming incorporated into the curriculum and there was enough demand that he was able to create a revenue stream and take on two further PGA Professionals.
By the end of 2015, the ‘Rising Star’ programme had 24 PGA Professionals delivering instruction in over 225 schools, to more than 3,000 children each week on average, with pathways established to 32 golf clubs and coaching venues in the country.
The programme showed success with various high performing juniors coming through the system, but also in engaging PGA Professionals that gained the skills necessary to keep employment in the golf industry at a time when many were not able to.
Liam was then able to take his incredible work much further with the development of the CommuniTEE programme that focuses on bringing golf to the 90% of the population that do not have access to the sport, such as school children, the over 60s, those with special needs, and also families, with structured pathways to golf clubs to provide long-term playing opportunities.
He was then a natural fit to work with other organisations such as The First Tee Ireland and their one day “Primary Days” programmes, and with UNESCO Chair at Tralee IT and the co-developed “Let’s Inclusivize Golf” programme focusing on creating opportunities for people with disabilities in golf.
This work also led to engaging with The Els Foundation and the delivery of “Els for Autism” programmes with the Foundation placing a plaque at their headquarters in Florida in tribute to Liam and his work.
Liam’s wife, Catherine [pictured above], was present at the 2017 Annual Congress Gala Awards Dinner at Costa Navarino in Greece to collect the award in recognition of the legacy for golf in Ireland that he has left. PGAs of Europe Honorary President, George O’Grady CBE, presented Catherine with Liam’s award, receiving an emotional and a much-deserved reception from the attending guests.
For more information on the 2017 Annual Award Winners visit Annual Congress Hub Page (http://eur.pe/2017AnnualCongress), follow @PGAsofEurope on Twitter and search the hashtag ‘#AnnualCongress’ or like the PGAs of Europe Facebook Page.
The Annual Congress Gala Awards are partnered by Rolex, Costa Navarino, the Ryder Cup European Development Trust, BMW and Aegean Airlines, and are supported by The Botanist, The Blue Beetle, Bulldog, G’Vine gins, Marendry apperitivo, and Fever-Tree Premium Natural Mixers.