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Val takes over at the top

A RESEARCH fellow in biomaterials who has made an immense contribution to Welsh golf has taken over as chair of the Golf Union of Wales.

Dr Val Franklin, from Aston University, is the chair of the GUW, taking over from former Ryder Cup Wales chief John Jermine.

Franklin helped to transform the junior set up at Aberdovey Golf Club as they went from having no teams to a thriving and successful junior squad, a process kick-started by grants from Ryder Cup Wales, which allowed them to improve facilities for beginners.

With golf club membership numbers falling around the world, Franklin is aware the same challenge she took on at Aberdovey is one that needs to be repeated at a national level all over Wales.

“What is important is maintaining the profile of the Golf Union of Wales and Golf Development Wales within the golfing community, so that those who can contribute are put to best use,” said Dr Franklin, the second woman chair of the GUW since the men’s and women’s associations in Wales merged as part of the Ryder Cup bid, as well as a level one PGA coach.

“It is certainly going to be an interesting role and I have a hard act to follow in John. I have come up through the development side and also the handicapping processes, I have been involved with the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) since 2008 and have attended USGA course rating calibration seminars.

“My background is as a scientist so I like numbers and number-crunching. I am very much involved in junior golf and I am a great believer in making things as inclusive as possible, encouraging everyone to participate. We will look to build on what has been done by Golf Development Wales and to expand their role in the golfing domain.

“We have advantages in Wales to build on, we are one of the most cohesive golf unions between male and female golf and everyone can bring different things to the party.

“County golf and squad golf are vital parts of what we do well, but I come from the participation side and trying to support golf at all levels.

“Some people think golf is an elite game run by fuddy-duddies, so we have to break down the barriers to help all people participate for the game to progress.

“It is a great sport from cradle to grave, so we need to promote that without losing the traditions – to bring golf into the 21st century.

“That might mean some shorter courses, a nine-hole loop, nine-hole competitions, things that can work for men, women, girls, boys and families. We have to remember that some people do not have the time they used to have.

“Our challenge is getting people to try the sport as well as supporting clubs who are struggling to maintain their membership numbers.”