You might not know Ian Finnis, the tall man who towers over Tommy Fleetwood as the pair of them walk the fairways of the world. Fleetwood does the playing, very successfully, and Finnis the bag carrying, equally successfully.
If you do know Finnis then you will know what is about to be revealed. If you don’t then you can guess. There is something about his wide smile and his open personality that suggests he is what is known in Britain as “sound.”
What does sound mean? Imagine a conversation between two Britons talking about a third. One says to the other:
“That Pierce chap who we met in the bar last night. Is he sound?”
“Oh yes,” the other replies. “Sound as a bell.”
If someone is sound, they are sound as in sensible, sound as in well-mannered, sound as in fair-minded.
You didn’t need to know Ian Finnis (above, left) to think that he is “sound.” It is unlikely he would be caddying for Fleetwood if he were not sound because Fleetwood, too, is as sound as a bell and one of the interesting truisms in golf is that caddies often take on the personality of their employer.
Now comes proof of just how sound Finnis is. Proving that golf and golfers have a heart and are trying to lend a hand of support to those who are struggling in these COVID-19 days, he has started a fundraising campaign to help those of his fellow caddies who have found that no golf means no money. Finnis has set up a page – GoFundMe – to raise money all of which will be distributed to his fellow caddies and which raised £10,000 in its first seven hours.
Finnis offered 1,000 tickets at £10 each for a raffle with prizes such as a hat autographed by Fleetwood, flags signed by the members of the European team from the 2018 Ryder Cup and caddies’ bibs from the same event. Online golf psychology sessions were offered as a prize. In all, nearly 500 donors contributed to Finnis’s raffle. It went so well that he did another the next day. That did well, too, raising another impressive figure for professional caddies.
Proving that golf and golfers have a heart and are trying to lend a hand of support to those who are struggling in these COVID-19 days, Ian Finnis has started a fundraising campaign to help those of his fellow caddies who have found that no golf means no money.
People sometimes sneer at golf and golfers. A rich man’s sport, they say. A middle-class sport. One that shows little concern for others. Finnis is proving these jibes are wrong. He is proving that golf is not an uncaring sport and that golfers care.
“Me and my family struggled early on in my caddying career so we know how hard it is at times and especially now,” Finnis said, in his thick Liverpool accent. “Some caddies will be feeling this with families and possibly no wages for three months so I’m auctioning what I can to help them out.”
Other caddies have followed suit. For example, Billy Foster, currently working for Matthew Fitzpatrick, is selling some of the memorabilia he has collected during his career and giving the money to the UK’s National Health Service.
Finnis’s gesture is famous now, boosted by being tweeted and retweeted and retweeted again. Also well known are those golf clubs where in the days before the clubs were closed down the professionals and their staff were telephoning members and offering to help with shopping or other chores or just to talk.
A very new gesture and one that is less well known is a golf coaching business based in south west London that started giving online golf lessons less than a week ago and has been so successful so quickly that it is donating some of the proceeds of this imaginative venture to charity.
“Since Real Golf Live was created just over a week ago (in our kitchen), we have brought live golf coaching sessions to hundreds of viewers around the UK, Continental Europe, the US and in Asia,” said Richard Ellis, a PGA professional. “We are thrilled to be able to share the Real Golf coaching philosophy with so many of you, and perhaps more important, to provide a sanctuary and much needed normality to our old and new friends during this difficult time.
“Thanks to the generosity of our viewers, in just over a week, we donated £1,027.50 to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices. It is a fantastic charity that supports 700 babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their families, 365 days a year at no cost to the families, in London and Surrey.
“As the result of the overwhelming support, Real Golf has just launched the next 10 live sessions, over the next five weeks. You can sign up for free now at our websites. We can’t wait to meet more golfers at our live sessions, help you improve your golf, and to continue our efforts in supporting more fantastic charities.”
News of this new venture was music to the ears of Robert Maxfield, chief executive officer of the PGA, because it is the sort of imaginative and generous scheme he is proud his members are thinking up and implementing.
“These are unprecedented times and the COVID-19 pandemic has affected each and every one of our 8,000 members around the world in some way,” Maxfield said. “Despite the difficult climate with golf facilities around the world being forced to temporarily close, I am immensely proud of the response of our members for coming together in the face of adversity.
“Looking ahead, it is important we continue to highlight to golf clubs, the industry and thousands of golfers around the world that the PGA professional was, has and will continue to be at the heart of any golf business.”
Top: Ian Finnis and Tommy Fleetwood at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November 2019.
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