Val Swales runs the Sheffield Evening League to give to give extra playing opportunities to women who work or are busy during the day.
It involves six clubs, including Hallamshire where she is a six-handicap member. Here’s her story…
I love pretty much everything about golf. It’s challenging, exciting, competitive, bonding and so much fun.
Why did you start playing?
It was to be able to play with my husband on holiday. My mum had been encouraging me to play. She thought that I would enjoy playing and had regretted waiting until she was 60 to learn to play. Then I tried it, had a few lessons and was hooked!
What gave you the idea for the Sheffield Evening League?
I was playing a weekend league inter-club match in Leeds and heard about their successful Leeds Evening League. At the time I was working as a GP – I’m now retired – and I thought that it would work in Sheffield. Other people thought that it was a good idea too. So, with the encouragement of other players at my club and members of other Sheffield clubs I set it up.
Why do women and girls need these opportunities?
The more different formats to play and participate in the better. Many women are time poor and many women put the needs of others ahead of themselves. The traditional model of matches which may take half a day or more doesn’t always fit with modern life, responsibilities at home or at work. Women are jugglers of time anyway….and this is an easier, shorter format to juggle with.
What’s important – competition, socialising or fun?
It’s a mix of all three. Each club probably has a slightly different focus and that’s fine. For some clubs it’s mainly for those working or committed during the day. Some clubs use it as an introduction to inter-club match play. All the clubs feel it is fun and sociable.
At my club the teams are made up of anyone who wants to play.But we do like doing well too! We compete for a lovely ‘Sheffield Steel’ trophy.
Tell us how it works
Six clubs are involved and they each field a team of five. We play singles matches over 9 holes starting at 6pm. Players play in handicap order.
Each hole won earns a point. A halved hole gets half a point. All players play 9 holes. After 9 holes the player winning most points receives a bonus point.
After each match the players socialise in the clubhouse.
The points are totalled for all 5 players. The scores are sent to me and I add them to a league table.
There is a presentation of a trophy every two years. We play each team at home one year and away the next year. Every autumn we have an ‘Evening League Evening’ for all participants.
Is it something that would transfer to other areas?
It would work in any area with a number of neighbouring golf clubs and someone or a small group to drive it forward.
What are the secrets of success?
Simplicity. Adaptability. Enthusiasm.
Our league has evolved over the last few years and will continue to do so. We use IT to deal with the results and I set up the website – with the help of one of my children
Are there other ways you encourage women and girls to play golf?
I am very enthusiastic about golf. I’m always trying to encourage other women and girls to try it. I am part of a working group at my golf club with the aim of encouraging women and girls to play golf and join the club.
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