Girls Golf Rocks: We join in the fun at Howley Hall
Last year England Golf sent out a golf club membership questionnaire to clubs across the UK. But sadly the results were very disappointing.
They showed that only 15% of UK memberships are held by females, and that the ladies’ section in 55% of clubs had shrunk over the last two years.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for women’s golf. With our #ThisGirlGolfs events and Women’s Golf Day coming up on June 6, 2017 is hopefully the year when we can get more women playing than ever before.
Whilst these figures alone might seem disheartening, we all know that there are plenty of lady golfers out there. We just need to band together to get more of us playing.
England Golf and the Golf Foundation have also joined forces to run the Girls Golf Rocks scheme. Designed to get more girls playing golf, this project offers five weekly coaching sessions for as little as £14, plus the chance to take part in a free taster lesson before they begin.
These sessions are the perfect chance for girls, aged five to 18, to try golf for the first time in a relaxed and friendly environment. They can also wear what they like and borrow all the equipment they need. Plus, at the end of they all get a free US Kids 7-iron, which overall seems a pretty good deal.
We think the project is a brilliant idea, and just what’s needed to prove to girls that golf is actually fun, and not just a stuffy sport that their dads might play.
I went along to one of the Girls Golf Rocks taster sessions at Howley Hall in Morley, Leeds, to see if they’re as great as they sound.
The taster session
This was lead by PGA pro Ryan Rastall, who has already been heavily involved with developing the junior section at the club.
Helping out were three girls from the county girls’ squad. As ambassadors for Girls Golf Rocks their brilliant golfing skills soon put my own to shame.
We started by doing some chipping and pitching out on the practice area, before moving on to do some putting games and challenges.
The activities were fun and varied; perfect for players of any level. Some of the girls hadn’t been playing for very long, but they all enjoyed themselves and there was no pressure to be good as everyone else.
The girls told me that in their groups of friends, they were the only ones who played golf. Most had started to play because their dad’s did.
They also said that their friends didn’t want to try it because they were worried about being told off for being too loud or doing something wrong. Of course this is one of the biggest things wrong with golf, and something we need to change.
But in this session they were encouraged to be as loud and as excited as they wanted.
The Girls Golf Rocks ambassadors were paired with the girls who hadn’t been playing for so long. This meant that they could help out and offer advice as we went through the different activities. Their golfing was really inspiring, if they’re this good at 12, you can only imagine how amazing they’ll be as adults.
It was refreshing to meet girls who had so much love for the sport and also so much skill on the course. Being the only girl in their juniors section, or the only person who played golf in their class, didn’t deter them.
It’s sessions like this, and young players like these girls, who will help us to grow the game and prove that golf can be fun and exciting.
For any girls who are interested in trying golf, or want to improve their playing skills, these sessions are perfect.
Meet the girls
Hannah, 9 – Howley Hall GC
“My dad has been teaching me to play golf since I was four, my mum doesn’t play though because she isn’t very sporty.
I used to play at the Manor and I’ve just joined here. But I think this club is much better.
I play here every Saturday and my favourite part of golf is when we use the woods because then the ball goes really far.
Nobody else in my class at school plays golf apart from one other boy. I also like other sports like cross country.”
Amelia, 12 – Wakefield GC, Girls Golf Rocks ambassador
“I’ve been playing golf for about three years and I normally play twice a week. I can start playing more now because the weather is better.
My favourite part is chipping because I struggle to hit the ball really far and it’s more about being precise with your short game.
I play at Wakefield where I’m the only girl in the junior section. I play with 5 or 6 boys who are aged between 11-17.”
Scarlet, 12 – Silkstone GC, Girls Golf Rocks ambassador
“I started playing golf when I was 7. I play on a Saturday and practice on a Thursday and I also have private lessons every fortnight with the pro.
I think sessions like this are a good idea. We have 7 or 8 girls at Silkstone but we also have a few more who used to play and are now coming back. There’s quite a few juniors when we all turn up and I was junior vice captain.
I’m the only one of my friends who plays golf. The others play football or dance.
My dad plays golf and he once got told off for wearing socks and flip flops in the clubhouse!
My sister tried it but she didn’t really like it, she prefers dancing. My mum doesn’t play either, she’s too busy running us about to all our lessons to have time.
I like golf because I get to see my friends, meet new people and try new golf courses. I also like using my woods more than my irons because they’re more fun.
I’ve played at Knaresbrough, in Orlando and then about 7 or 8 different courses altogether.”
Girls Golf Rocks sessions are happening in 15 counties across England.