Somerset’s Graham Yates becomes President of England Golf.
Graham has been a golf volunteer for 45 years and played a key role in the merger which created England Golf in 2012. In 2007 Graham joined the board of Directors of the EGU, a post he held for 10 years. He was the organisation’s chairman for three years until he retired in 2017.
He commented: “I am very honoured and delighted to have been given this incredible opportunity to serve the game of golf.
“Golf has been a big part of my life and it has been my privilege to have had the opportunity to offer my services and to work closely with the thousands of volunteers and colleagues who support our game towards its future in all its forms.”
Graham has played golf since as a boy member at Saltford Golf Club. But his first experiences as a golf volunteer developed in Malawi.
It was there that he and his new wife, Hazel, made their home after he joined Standard Chartered Bank in Malawi in 1968. He was with the bank for 25 years, mostly in countries in sub Saharan Africa, including Malawi, Cameroon and The Gambia. He also had a five year spell as administration manager for the bank’s operation in France.
During all this time abroad, golf and club life were an important part of leisure activities and after first volunteering at Lilongwe Golf Club in 1973, Graham became heavily involved with club committees.
“Notwithstanding the sometimes brutal climate conditions, golf was played with enthusiasm and it was an eye opener to me at the time to realise just how widespread the game was and how varied and different the courses were. This was equally true of the participants and fellow players which ranged from caddies emerging as really good club players, to playing fairly regularly with the President not of the club, but of the country.”
After Graham took early retirement the Yates family returned to the UK and settled in Somerset. Soon Graham was again persuaded to became involved in club committees, this time at Taunton Vale Golf Club, and in 2000, he was appointed as the Honorary Secretary for the Somerset Golf Union.
Other voluntary committee work followed, with spells on the former English Golf Union’s Championship Committee and the SSS and Handicapping Committee. Graham was elected the Somerset Golf Union President in 2008, and as the South West Group President in 2013.
Graham is a member of Burnham and Berrow Golf club, the renowned Somerset links course, which has hosted many national and international events. The club recently staged the English Women’s Strokeplay Championship in 2020.
“Burnham and Berrow suits me very well as a genuine mix of the traditional values and etiquette of golf, a very good test of the game, but probably and more importantly as a golf club responding to the changing needs, pressures and reality of golf in the 21st century,” said Graham.