Jensen Berridge, a 14-year-old amateur golfer from England, got the surprise of his life today when he received a letter from former US Open champion and 2018 US Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk.
Better yet, he was also presented with a new award created in the American’s honour.
‘The Jim Furyk Award for Sportsmanship’ will be an annual award presented to a young golfer at The 3 Hammers Golf Complex in Wolverhampton.
It all came about thanks to Staffordshire golfer Malcolm Read. Malcolm was in the States when the US team lost the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. He was so impressed by the way in which Furyk, the team skipper, handled the crushing defeat that he decided to write to him to ask a favour.
Eighteen months on, Malcolm’s wish has come true with the creation of this special award for sportsmanship named after the player himself.
Rob Bluck, 3 Hammers Golf Academy director, helped select the first winner of the award which credits Jensen’s commitment to helping others at the venue.
“Jensen was the standout winner of the Jim Furyk Award for Sportsmanship for me because of the time he has dedicated to volunteering and mentoring at 3 Hammers” said Bluck. “By giving up his free time, he has made a significant impact on many of the younger golfers at the Academy.”
The letter to Jensen from Jim Furyk is both heartfelt and inspirational. It includes the lines: “On the course, we all strive to play our best. However, the recognition you received for your character, sportsmanship, and helping others is truly something to be proud of.”
Due to lockdown in the UK, the award-winning 3 Hammers has been closed for business until recently. When owner Ian Bonser opened its doors a few weeks ago, he was intrigued to see a letter in the post with the familiar Ryder Cup logo.
“Malcolm and his wife Gill told me about their idea quite a while ago but we never imagined that such a famous golfer would take the time to acknowledge the work we do here at 3 Hammers,” said Bonser. “Seeing the letter, which is personally addressed to our first winner and written on Ryder Cup Captain stationary, nestled in a pile of post was a great welcome back to work.”
Jensen, who attends Sandwell Academy and also represents Staffordshire County, was shocked to discover that he had won the award.
“I love coming to 3 Hammers at the weekend to work on my game and spending time helping the younger golfers,” he said. “We all enjoy practicing and playing here, I want to make sure that all the youngsters feel welcome and learn to love golf as much as I do.”