Club captain is one of the most sought after positions within golf clubs. Headingley have appointed their next captain, Kimberley Hill, and we caught up with her
The oldest golf club in Leeds will have a female golf club captain for the first time next year.
Kimberley Hill, a long-term committee member at Headingley, told us how she was elected and the advice she would give to other aspiring captains and committee members.
Congratulations, Kimberley. Could you start by telling us about the club captaincy selection process at Headingley?
Kimberley Hill (KH): The club captain is chosen from members who have served on the main committee.
In the early 2000s, the club constitution created equal status for all adult playing members meaning they are all able to be elected to join the board of directors.
With a position on the board, there is the opportunity to become club captain and chairperson of the board.
Previously, ladies have been elected on to the committee but none wished take up the role of club captain – until now.
Headingley Golf Club is regarded as a progressive and inclusive club and this is reflected in the diversity of the current committee.
What is your own golf like and do you always play with other ladies or lots of mixed golf?
I have been playing golf for over 30 years and I now have a handicap of 15.
I was introduced to golf as a way of developing and networking business relationships with customers and suppliers when I worked in an IT based role.
Often I was the only woman playing in lots of corporate events, but now more women are playing in these events.
I enjoy playing in both ladies’ competitions, team events and mixed events with my husband and son who are both keen golfers.
I love going away on golf trips with the ladies, as well as the mixed weekend breaks, which are great social events.
What has been the reaction from your family and friends with regards to your appointment?
They have been very excited by my appointment as the first female club captain at Headingley and I know I will have their support when I take up the role next year.
What has been the reaction around the club?
It has been great. I have the support of the current members and the committee to ensure a successful year for myself and the club.
What experience do you have that you will draw upon to ensure a successful captaincy?
My working background in financial services and business management will be a big help. I will also be able to combine this with my experience from previous years on the committee and being the ladies’ captain in 2015.
What advice would you give to other aspiring club captains and committee members?
I would recommend that any new members who would be interested in joining a committee should make themselves known to the existing members of the committee to discuss what the role entails and understand what experiences and knowledge they can contribute to assist the running of club.
Committee members are elected annually at the AGM by full playing members of the golf club, it is therefore important for new members to raise their profile by involving themselves in many different events within the club, not only the general competitions, but also team matches and social events to ensure that a good cross section of members get to know them.
Do you see yourself as a pioneer or example-setter?
I am very proud to be appointed to the position of club captain in an established golf club, and regardless of my gender I plan to carry out the same duties as any previous captain, recognising that in some instances I will mainly be in the company of men, but this is no different to working in industry where now there are more and more women working in top jobs.
What do you think of how golf has treated women historically?
In the early 1900s, unfortunately the culture and traditions of golf clubs did not see women having the time to play golf, and were often perceived as exclusively men’s clubs.
The world has changed, men, women and families now have more leisure time and although golf is regarded as an expensive sport and takes up more time than others opportunities are there.
Ladies can now enjoy the same full membership facilities as men and should ensure that this is provided by any golf club they seek to join.
Modern clubs are also a great place to develop friendships and enjoy many other social events.
With this history in mind, how far do you think golf has come in this respect?
Women’s golf has come a long way and in golf clubs today women and young people are more included despite there being some where the traditions are still the priority and gender equality is overlooked.
Currently only around 15% of golfers in the UK are female. How do you think golf can attract more female players?
Here at Headingley we run annual ‘Give Golf A Go’ events to encourage women to take up the sport.
We have created a scheme for new players to have group lessons and provided ‘buddies’ to help them play the course, become acquainted with rules, obtain a handicap and more.
This has proved to be a successful strategy for introducing new golfers and more golf clubs could put into place similar ideas to help attract more females.
What do you hope to achieve in your time as captain?
I will work with the board to achieve a successful running of the club as well as contributing to its promotion both locally and nationally.
Furthermore, I will strive to smoothly embrace changes in rules and the handicap system while recognising that we won’t please all members, all of the time but we will ensure that the club’s future is secured for members today and in the future.
Will there also be a ladies’ captain, or will this come under your role?
The ladies’ section continues to elect a ladies’ captain to represent the club. The ladies’ captain attends the committee meetings and there are many joint activities including ‘Give Golf a Go Day’ to encourage new ladies to take up golf which the ladies’ captain is involved with.