'More traditional clubs wouldn’t entertain the idea of having a female director'

The Scoop

As one of only four female club directors in the country, Nikki Chantry has had a busy year at Louth. She features in our latest Women in Golf

We chatted to the PGA professional about how she’s finding being director of golf at Louth, what keeps her motivated, and whether sexism still exists in golf…

Are you enjoying being director?

It’s been tough, but also very enjoyable and I’ve got a fantastic network of members, employees and staff who have really helped me out.

I took over the position in January 2017 and since then we have redeveloped the 1st and 2nd holes and it’s all been very exciting.  It’s been a high-speed push into the directors position. I don’t have a lot of time to sit around unfortunately.

I’m also in charge of all the marketing and the membership, which has been a bit of a challenge. The marketing has never been that good at Louth, so when I took over I really wanted to try and get us on the map. It’s actually starting to come to fruition now and people are talking about us. We’ve got a good following on Facebook and Twitter, and our website has been updated to look more modern.

I really want to try and advertise what’s so great about being part of a club, like the social side and the competitions. I want to show that golf isn’t just a boring old-man sport.

Is Louth quite a traditional club?

It’s both traditional and modern really. The demographic is fairly old so we are trying to gain a few younger members.

Louth Golf Club

But the older guys really want the club to move forward. They had the social media channels in place even before I started, but they just weren’t being used properly. So I had an easy start really and I’ve just flown with the things that were already in place.

Do you still do any coaching?

I do, but obviously I don’t have that much time to teach anymore. I love it and I don’t want to give it up.

We’ve just employed a new PGA professional called Neil Clarkson and we’re building up a new golf academy to try and get more beginners into the club.

Was the interview process for the position tough?

It really was. It was quite frightening actually. I was sat in front of about 10 board members and they were all firing different questions at me. I was like, ‘Which one do I answer first?’

I had three interviews and then I was finally offered the position. I was a junior member here and I was actually born just up the road. So it’s kind of mad to be working here now.

Louth haven’t had a female director or a PGA professional in charge of the whole club before.

But I just love my job and the people I work with. Because I’ve had problems with my hips I’ve had to take a bit of a back seat with playing and teaching. So it’s really suited me.

Do you think that golf is still a male-dominated sport?

It’s a difficult question, but I think in general it is. However, it’s not as bad as it has been.  As a female PGA pro I get the same respect as a man would, but a few years ago I was asked if my exams were different to the ones that the men do! There was a feeling that the ladies could get away with a lot more. But it’s not like that now.

The men’s professional golf just seems to be on TV a lot more than the ladies’ game is. It needs to be publicised more to show that women are just as good as the guys are.

Do you think it’s harder for a woman to make a career in golf than it is for a man?

Yes without a doubt. But as Louth are very forward-thinking they have helped me on my way.

I think that the more traditional clubs possibly wouldn’t entertain the idea of having a lady as director. It’s sad but that will change eventually.

When did you start playing golf?

I was about 11, both my parents played and I thought that I wouldn’t mind giving it a go too. I worked at my local golf club just pot washing and I saved up my money for my first lesson and I just loved it straight away. I was really lucky that the owners of the club let me practise whenever I wanted. I have a lot to thank people for really.

Did many of your friends at school play golf?

No not one of them, I got picked on actually! They thought I was a bit of a weirdo. And I remember that one of my teachers said ‘oh you’ll never make it as a golf pro.’  I saw her a few years ago and she asked what I was doing, it was great to prove her wrong!

What do you like most about golf?

I think it’s great that you can play at any age and that it doesn’t matter if you are a guy or a girl. You can also play on your own or with friends. It’s a really social game and you can talk about it for hours after, even if you might bore a few people.  It’s a wicked sport for anyone to play, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. You can get really cheap clubs for kids and free lessons around the place.

What have been the highlights of your year so far?

I’ve completed so many projects,  it’s been unreal really. The best bit has probably been how easily I have settled in, the members have been amazing and made me feel so welcome.

What are your goals now?

Like a lot of courses we’ve had a few financial problems and my main goal is to get us making money again. It will just take a while to make that happen. It’s involved rebuilding the whole structure of the club so it’s been quite hard.

But I’ve worked in busy hotel chains before so I’m just trying to use my experience from that to boost the club’s income.

We’ve had some good members of staff leave us but we’ve also managed to weed out some of the bad ones. But everyone has been really supportive and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

Do you have many lady members?

Yes and some good players as well. They keep asking me to come and play with them but I haven’t been able to with my hip problems. But I can’t wait to join them for a round.

We’re next to big grammar school and I want to do some coaching with the students as well. It is tough because a lot of girls aren’t very sporty. But that’s not such a bad thing as you don’t have to exert yourself too much in golf and you can wear some nice things when you play.

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