29 Nov 2023

Taking strides towards success: Frankie and Matilde "honoured" to be Foxhills Foundation scholars

As Foxhills celebrates its 40th anniversary of family ownership, it’s fitting that this year saw the successful resurgence of the Foxhills Foundation, a scholarship programme that supports the next generation of junior golfers.

An initiative that aligns with the core values of Foxhills and the Hayton family, six talented young golfers were announced as the latest scholars in July this year, all claiming a life-changing development opportunity to help them achieve their ambitions in the sport.

Delivered by Foxhills’ PGA Professionals, a selection of Surrey’s brightest up-and-coming stars have enjoyed a year to remember, benefitting from an honorary membership at the PGA Cup host venue, in addition to mentoring, specialist tuition and equipment support.

In addition to representing the club in competitions and access to weekly group and private lessons – as well as range balls and clothing – scholars were treated to expert clinics from some of the best in the game including DP World Tour winner, and the only player in European Tour history to shoot 59, Oliver Fisher who demonstrated, explained and observed a range of chip shots and bunker play, while Henni Koyack, former LET player turned Sky Sports broadcaster, focussed on the importance of putting. Mick Doran, long-term caddy for Lee Westwood and Adam Marrow, current caddy of Thomas Pieters, also gave a masterclass on green reading and course management/strategy. Further clinics are lined up with some of the world’s leading golfers.

The Foxhills Foundation has established itself as one of the country’s top youth development programmes since it started in 1986, helping develop more than 300 golfers through expert coaching and support.

Youngsters aged 13 to 18 from the local community, who may not previously have had the opportunity, are picked through a careful selection progress and given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make the most of their golfing potential with everything they need to gain a deep understanding of the game, both on and off the course.

Matilde Santilli (aged 16), Johnny Summerfield (aged 15), James Parsons (aged 17), Guy Allen (aged 17), Josh Diton (aged 15) and Frankie Ashdown (aged 13) were this year’s cohort who will look to follow in the footsteps of PGA Tour and European Tour stars Paul Casey and Anthony Wall, who both graduated from the scheme on their way to their stellar careers.

Case studies

Matilde Santilli
One of the biggest success stories of 2023 is Matilde Santilli who continues to be one to watch as one of the best female players of her age in the country.

Matilde has been named in both the England U16 and England Girls U18 National Squad. Highlights of her year include:

England vs Spain U16 match (won)
England vs Ireland U16 match (won)
Tigress U21 Champion - won by 13 shots
Roehampton Gold Cup Amateur Champion
T13th R&A Girls U16s
T7th Hampshire Rose
2nd Gold Rose (combined Hampshire Rose and Gold Cup)
29th Scottish Girls U18 Open Championship
T27th English Mixed U18, Effingham GC
Cut made at English Mixed U25 Championship
Team England European Young Masters (team of 4)
4th English Girls U16 Strokeplay Championships
T20th English Women’s Stroke Play, Manchester

Matilde is utilising the support of the Foxhills Foundation to help her achieve her ambition to play collegiate golf in the USA and then turn professional and play on the LET or LPGA Tour.

She said: “Foxhills’ continued support in the last few years has been fundamental to developing my game. I couldn’t have asked for a more friendly environment to spend my time in. Being able to access to world-class facilities and golf courses here, as well as having other juniors to practice with, are things I will always be grateful for”.

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Frankie Ashdown
Frankie has shown incredible development and growth, particularly in confidence, both on and off the course. Having dropped his handicap from 26 to 21.4, Frankie has featured in many competitions throughout the year notably winning the Foxhills Order of Merit, a series of 10 rounds, as well as representing the Foxhills U14 team on multiple occasions.

He said: “I have gone from doing poorly in competitions to recently being up near the top. In terms of scoring, I have been pretty consistent, barely posting a round worse than a few over net par in recent competitions. Of course, that wouldn’t have been possible without the scholarship programme and support from my coaches, with everything set in place for me to improve. I have gathered so much confidence in the past year due to the great people around me pushing me to be the best player possible.

“I am hoping that next year I will be able to build an even bigger jump towards being a scratch golfer. With the Foxhills team behind me, that is easily achievable. With the effort that goes into improving the courses, I feel as if things are getting even better and I’m excited for the future. I couldn’t think of a better place to be, I am honoured to be a part of the Foxhills Foundation and it shows how much I can accomplish at just 13.”

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Sean Graham, Director of Golf, said: “It’s been a fantastic year for the foundation. Matilde and Frankie are both doing us proud and have an extremely bright future ahead of them.

“Along with the other four newest scholars, there is some real potential and it’s genuinely exciting to think we could have seen a few future champions taking their first steps towards an elite career.

“The Foxhills Foundation is all about inclusivity and accessibility. We are lucky to be able to play an important role in our local community to help youngsters achieve their dreams. We want to give them, regardless of their background and circumstances, the tools they need to learn, develop, progress and excel in golf.

“A lot of hard work has gone into the youth development programme at Foxhills. We have children as young as three years old taking their first steps in the sport right through to those young adults who are actively pursuing a future career in the professional ranks. We are just enabling them to be the best golfers they can possibly be by making sure everything is in place to give them the best possible chance to succeed. It’s up to individual to grab it with both hands and make the most out of it.”

Foxhills Foundation scholars have access to the two highly-regarded 18-hole Championship golf courses at Foxhills, Longcross and Bernard Hunt, both regular features in GB top 100 rankings and host professional tournaments, as well as:

- Nine-hole par-three Manor Course
- Covered and floodlit driving range with synthetic target greens
- The Practice Den - a 3,500 square-metre floodlit practice facility featuring a bunker and large undulating green to work on chipping, pitching, putting and bunker play
Three additional practice putting greens.
- Gym with latest strength and cardiovascular equipment

These exceptional facilities will give the golfers everything they need to fine-tune their swing and work on all aspects of their game at any time, no matter the weather or time of year.

Paul Casey, who joined the Foundation at the age of 11 and has since gone on to make five appearances in the Ryder Cup and claim 21 professional victories, said: "Foxhills is where it started for me. I successfully tried for the Foxhills Foundation as a young man and the rest is history. I learnt so much in those early years playing the two great courses and receiving tuition from the excellent teaching staff."

Anthony Wall, who has played on the European Tour since 1998 and claimed the Alfred Dunhill Championship title in 2000, said: "My time spent at Foxhills within the Foundation gave me a great platform for my golfing career. The structure of the regular lessons and the sense of team feel and community was amazing! I always felt like I was part of something good at Foxhills."

The association with some of the world’s best golfers does not end there with Ryan Fox, Charley Hull, Olivia Cowan, David Howell, Wayne ‘Radar’ Riley, Tom Lewis and Laurie Canter all current club members.

For further details on the foundation or to register your interest as a future scholar, please email sgraham@foxhills.co.uk