PAUL Eales, who has various North East connections, has received a PGA Recognition Award for his outstanding contribution to golf at a PGA fundraising lunch at Manchester’s Hilton Hotel.
Also honoured was the Ashington-born England football legend Sir Bobby Charlton, who received an award for his services to football and sport.
Money raised from the lunch, at which Premier League referee Howard Webb was a guest speaker and Geordie comedian Brendan Healy provided the entertainment, will go towards supporting the PGA Benevolent Fund, 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.
His surname long ago led to Eales being nicknamed “slippery” by his peers.
His playing and coaching career has made him a frequent visitor to the North East and his father Walter Eales was a Durham City man.
His grandfather Tom Shingler came from Ashington and Eales himself lived in the south Tyneside village of Cleadon for two years as a toddler.
He began his career as an assistant at Royal Lytham and St Annes under Eddie Birchenough and graduated through the Challenge Tour to the European Tour where his career earnings were just over £1½m.
He won the 1994 Extremudura Open in Spain.
Eales played in seven Open Championships and one US Open and it was after missing the cut at the 1996 at Royal Lytham 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.
A member of the European Tour board of directors, he is support coach to the England Golf under-18s boys’ squad and lead coach for the England Golf north west squads for boys and girls aged 16-18.
“The award came out of the blue,” said Eales, who was presented with his accolade by PGA vice chairman John Heggarty.
“It is nice doing your day-to-day stuff and for your own association to recognise your work.
“I have been very fortunate in that opportunities have come my way and as one door has shut another has opened.
“I have 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 and as he nears 50 is looking at playing again on the European Seniors Tour.
He added: “The Post Grad Diploma has been a real eye-opener, learning how coaching is not just a case of ticking boxes but finding out what individual needs are and working towards those goals.
“I’ also have my 50th birthday just around the corner so I have to keep playing, but it’s a case of trying to find the time.”
PGA North Region secretary Graham Maly said: “I’ve known Paul for many years and he has been an outstanding player in the region, winning two 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.”