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Centenary club seeks to inspire 100 girls

A CHESHIRE club which celebrates its 100th year in 2020 is aiming to introduce 100 girls to the game of golf in the run-up to its centenary.

The ambitious campaign will first see Sandiway Golf Club take the sport out into local schools and junior girls’ social groups. The aim is to inspire the girls to take part in taster sessions specially designed to appeal to their sporting ability and sense of fun.

Campaign co-ordinator and Sandiway member, Ruth Elliott-Smith, said: “Sandiway has a strong contingent of junior boys, but we are looking for more junior girl members. The club is taking the opportunity to use its centenary not only to celebrate the last 100 years, but also as a springboard to prepare for the next 100.

“We cannot do that without producing the women players of our future.”

Sandiway PGA professional Gareth Jones will coach girls aged from nine to 18 at local schools and groups in how to use junior-sized clubs, which make the game much easier to play and to pick up the skills needed more quickly.

The club will then invite the girls to a free session at Sandiway’s newly-refurbished practice ground at its Chester Road home and introduce them to the Golf Foundation’s national Golf Passport scheme, where golfing skills are learned and recorded one at a time until the player becomes proficient. From there it is hoped the girls will develop an interest in the sport in a like-minded friendly group and go on to enjoy further lessons and the chance to get out on the course.

Ruth added: “If girls won’t come to golf, then we’ll take golf to them! We believe many girls who have never even considered golf as a sport will love it as much as we do.

“It is our aim to be able to say in our 100th year that we have introduced at least 100 girls to the fabulous game of golf, and encouraged a good percentage of those to take up the game as their sport of choice, hopefully for life.”

Alison Lysons, development officer for the Cheshire Golf Development Group which is working to support clubs attract more players, increase membership and develop a stronger future, says: “This is a wonderful idea from Sandiway Golf Club.

“It is great to see a club with such a long and distinguished history taking such a proactive approach to the long-term future not only of their own club, but for the sport in general.

“By bringing girls together in this way, it will help show them how much fun there is to be had from learning and playing golf and how it can help them lead a healthier lifestyle and enjoy the company of new friends.”

Sandiway’s initiative supports England Golf’s strategy to attract more women and girls into golf. This includes providing resources for clubs, such as fact sheets on how to recruit and retain women members. Another set dealing with girls’ golf will soon be available.

Among other initiatives is a pilot project, involving 100 clubs, to look at different ways of growing women’s golf. The first Women and Girls’ Conference was held in August and secured pledges from clubs, counties and golf media to support England Golf’s drive to get more women and girls playing the game. England Golf supported the launch the #ThisGirlGolfs video campaign which aims to change the image of the game.

Pictured are juniors learning to play golf at Sandiway.