At the end of the 2023 Epson Tour season, two athletes were honored with awards celebrating their efforts off the golf course. Anna Redding won the inaugural Epson Community Achievement Award, while Hannah Arnold had the honor of taking home the Heather Wilbur Spirit Award. To go along with their award, both athletes received $5,000 from the Seiko Epson Corporations for their contributions to the game on and off the course.
New this year, the Seiko Epson Corporation wanted to honor an athlete who goes above and beyond in both their community and the ones visited on tour. They created the Epson Community Achievement Award to recognize an athlete who gives their all on and off the course. Whether participating in junior clinics, interacting with fans, or creating a second home with their host family, this athlete positively impacts each community.
“It feels incredible to be the recipient of any award, let alone an inaugural award from Epson and everyone on tour,” said Redding. “I was incredibly honored just to be nominated, so to actually win it, I’m very thankful and supportive of all my peers and friends out here on tour.”
Three different peers nominated the University of Virginia alumna for doing a great job promoting the tour and doing whatever it takes to help the tour succeed. Additionally, Redding interacts, connects and leaves a good impression with host families, Pro-Ams and fans at every stop.
“Anna routinely is first in line to volunteer her time for outside the ropes functions during tournament week. Whether its community relations functions, such as junior clinics or hospital visits being put on by local tournament organizers, Anna is always willing to lend her time in service of the communities in which the Epson Tour plays,” said one of the peers that nominated her. “She always signs up to participate in unofficial Pro-Ams, writes thank you notes to sponsors every week, and treats her host families with genuine gratitude and respect. She is deserving of some form of recognition for her weekly efforts, and I think she fits the criteria for this award.”
The Heather Wilbur Spirit Award was established in 2003 to honor former Epson Tour player Heather Wilbur, who lost her battle with leukemia that same year. Wilbur was also the first recipient of the award, which honors the player that best exemplifies dedication, courage, perseverance, love of the game and a spirit toward achieving goals as a professional golfer. Arnold adds herself to a list of talented golfers, including Ally Ewing and Mo Martin.
“I was not expecting this. At the beginning of the year, if you would have told me I’d be nominated for this award, I would have laughed and said, ‘we’ll see’,” said Arnold. “I’m very proud to be a part of this tour, and I love to be included, so this is amazing, and I really appreciate everything.”
The support Arnold shows for the people around her is unmatched. The willingness to go out of her way to help her peers has no limits, even if it is driving halfway across the country to caddy for her friends. After finishing an LPGA Tour Monday Qualifier for the Ascendent LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America in Texas, Arnold trekked back east to caddy for her friend, Kathleen Scavo, at the Epson Tour Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla. This is not the first time that Arnold has gone out of her way to help her Epson Tour family, nor will it be the last. She was just at Stage II, caddying for another friend, Sarah Rhee, as she tried to make her way to Q-Series. The spirit Arnold shows week in and week out on the Epson Tour is unrivaled, making the tour and the game of golf better when she is around.
“I’m very fortunate to know a lot of amazing people out here,” said Arnold. “I am the person I am because of them. I am a product of the people I’m around, and I’m super blessed to be out here. I love everyone out here, and I try to make everyone feel like they matter because they do.”
Both players have been competing to get their LPGA Tour cards for at least three years now. They know how much it means to help those around them and how hard it is to continue to compete with the finances that come with professional golf. Both players will take the $5,000 from Epson and put it back into their funds to continue to chase their dream of playing on the LPGA Tour.