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Newbies head for St Andrews

TWO new golfers who came through a Cheshire club’s golf development programme have won their way through to the final of a prestigious national competition – just four years after taking up the sport.

Fiona Wooley and Sally Kay will represent The Wilmslow Golf Club in the final of the Peugeot LGU Coronation Foursomes in St Andrews.

The Coronation Foursomes is the leading competition for club golfers in Great Britain and Ireland organised by the Ladies Golf Union – and attracted more than 27,000 entries from 1,250 clubs last year.

The two ladies both joined the club’s own get into golf scheme, though at different times.

But now they have teamed to up to fly the flag for club in the grand final at the home of golf, on September 19 after winning the regional competition at Kirby Muxloe Golf Club.

Both ladies had golfing links in their families – but had never tried the sport themselves.

Fiona, whose great grandfather was golf professional and later golf club manufacturer Ben Sayers, and Sally signed up for the introductory programme but quickly immersed themselves in the sport and club.

 The programme to encourage more ladies into golf was launched at the club – which can be found at Great Warford, near Mobberley – six years ago to increase female membership.

Club professional Matthew Gillingham responded to the club’s request to help address the issue.

The club introduced a special trial membership for ladies – between April and October each year – which included six hours of coaching with the PGA professional.

Promotion of the offer – which also gave full access to practice facilities, the course and clubhouse – included attending the local summer fair and linking up with Wilmslow Hockey Club.

Matthew said: “The offer has proved very popular, with a number of ladies getting involved each year, 90 per cent of whom have gone on to become full members at the club.

“Our lady members provide a buddy for each temporary member and that has proved to be a great way of introducing them to club life, making them feel comfortable both out on the course and in the clubhouse, and of quickly making new friends.

“It can be quite daunting to join a new club where you do not know anyone, but the group coaching sessions and the buddy system make it far more relaxing and welcoming, as the number of ladies who go on to become full members shows.”

The club now has more than 120 lady members, with a much younger age profile. Many of them are very active in the club, with most competitions attracting more than 70 players.

Sean Hammill, county development officer for the Cheshire County Development Group, added: “Congratulations to both Fiona and Sally – and also to the The Wilmslow Golf Club for taking a proactive approach to encouraging more people into the sport.

“The membership offer is an ideal way to give the sport – and life at a golf club – a try, with expert coaching to help you out on the course plus a friendly face to introduce you to the club and show you the ropes.

“A lot of people have entirely the wrong impression about the sport and the clubs. Once they take the plunge, they find that the clubs are more than welcoming and that golf provides a healthy activity with a strong social side to it.

“It is a sport that can be played by all ages and abilities and there has never been a better time to take up the sport because the clubs are making it so easy with free taster sessions, discounted golf coaching and membership deals”.

Get into golf is a national campaign to inspire new golfers run by the England Golf Partnership through its network of Golf Development Groups, which work to grow the game.

Get into golf opportunities include free or low-cost beginner courses with PGA professionals. They are a fun and sociable way to start golf – and a great way to make new friends.

To find your nearest centre visit getintogolf.org and look at the activity map or call 0800 118 2766.

For more details on the work of the Cheshire GDG visit www.cheshiregolfpartnership.com

Pictured are Fiona Wooley, left, and Sally Kay with The Wilmslow Golf Club’s PGA professional Matthew Gillingham.