Marcella Tuttle is a volunteering force to be reckoned with, and with a decade’s worth of roles under her belt, she is just about as committed as they come.
We spoke to her to find out what got her hooked on the game, her highlights and what she hopes the future will bring…
What do you love about golf?
I love that golf can be played by so many people of all ages and abilities. I love that you can play a match with anyone because the handicap system will make it a fair game. I love that it’s a social game and it doesn’t have to be competitive. I love going away to play the many fabulous courses around the world and meeting so many different people. I love that families can play together and that’s been the best part for me with my two daughter’s both playing off single figures, not to mention my husband John who plays off 11. We can enjoy a day out or weekend away all together. I love that that golf is good for your health and hopefully you can play it until the day you die!
How did you get started?
I started playing golf at the age of 11 and became a junior member at Woodcote Park Golf Club in Surrey. My mother played, together with three of my older siblings. I was the youngest of seven children so didn’t want to miss out on anything! I achieved a handicap of five at the age of 16 and played in the Surrey Girls team together with my sister Caroline and also in the team was Laura Davis! I’ve been playing golf for 42 years and now play off a handicap of four.
When did you first volunteer in golf?
My first official job was as County Girls Junior Organiser for Cambridgeshire in 2008. I undertook this role for four years as my daughters were both in the county girls team and felt I wanted to give something back. I was inspired by the hard working ladies’ committee working for the county junior girls, and they didn’t even have children in the team! It helped that I was a Category 1 player and the girls seemed to respect me and supported various changes I made. I was instrumental in introducing the East Region Junior County Week in 2012, which is still being played today.
Why do you volunteer?
I was brought up to always have a sense of duty. My upbringing was all about helping others where you could. My mother used to cook meals for the elderly lady across the road from our family home and one of us would deliver it most nights. I used to organise a food/toy collection at my secondary school at Christmas for the patients my mother went to visit as a TB Health Visitor who were very much on the breadline. We used to make hampers up with donated food and toys and deliver them to their houses and they were absolutely delighted.
So I suppose from an early age I’ve had a deep appreciation of how helping others is personally rewarding. It makes me feel good and fulfilled. Also my sense of duty would prevail if anyone asked me to do anything!
How many different roles have you undertaken?
2009 – 2018 – Club General Committee Member
2012 – Club Junior Organiser
2008 – 2012 – CHLCGA County Girls Junior Organiser
2013 – 2016 – Cambridgeshire Schools Golf Association Organiser – re-started the association after a 6-year absence
2017 – 2018 – CHLCGA County Captain
2016 – Ladies’ Vice Captain
2017 – Ladies’ Captain
2018 – 2019 – Club Ladies’ Academy Programme Co-ordinator
What’s been your favourite role and why?
That’s a very difficult question to answer as I’ve had so many varied roles. I suppose setting up the Ladies’ Academy Programme (LAP) at Links, Newmarket Golf Club has to be up there as one of the most enjoyable so far. To see some of them who have never picked up a golf club before progress so well in just 9 months is amazing. Social media has played a huge part for me with the ability to interact with LAP ladies and buddies giving me a platform to communicate with announcements, news, photos or videos and receiving invaluable feedback from everyone. The LAP ladies are also members of our private Links Ladies’ Facebook Group giving them an insight into what goes on in the ladies section which in turn will hopefully encourage them to become full lady members of the club at some point.
What’s been your most rewarding project and why?
The Ladies’ Academy Programme at the Links, Newmarket Golf Club is my most rewarding project as it was my initiative, my dream and my goal and having control of the project from the start was key. I developed the programme from listening to people and researching what other clubs had done and what worked for them and what didn’t. It was obvious to me from the start that just putting on a one-off ‘taster session’ was not going to result in my ultimate goal, which was to get more lady members into the club.
I embarked on a one-year programme starting in September 2018, which included three levels. The most important part of the project was getting our lady members on board and they didn’t disappoint with 40 of our lady members agreeing to be buddies to the 51 ladies who signed-up to Level 2 of our programme. After six months of coaching sessions and buddies helping them out on the practice ground, 29 LAP ladies signed up to Level 3 in April and took to the golf course to apply their newfound skills. With bi-monthly roll-ups organised the camaraderie amongst the group was amazing. They are all so keen to play and have also stayed out in wind and rain when they had a choice to come in!
We have some great talent developing and it’s a joy to share in the satisfaction they’re getting from playing the game. I have organised an end of season Texas Scramble event in September with buddies and LAP ladies playing in teams which everyone is looking forward to.
I cannot predict how many LAP ladies will ultimately join the club when the programme finishes but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have set them on the road to golf whether they take it up now or in the future.
Do you actively encourage women and girls to play golf?
Yes I think you can safely say I encourage women to play golf! However my concern is with the girls. I was a junior girl in the late 70s and there were three girls in my club in Surrey – that was quite a lot. Looking at the number of girls clubs have in their junior sections now it looks like nothing much has changed. I remember when my daughters started playing the boys didn’t really want to know or play golf with them until they reached a certain standard. So when you have only one girl in a club it’s very difficult for them, especially if their parents don’t play. Hopefully this is changing but I haven’t seen much evidence of this so far around my area. We need more integration with the boy’s county and the girls county from an early age. I think at the start they should all play together in county organised events.
What’s your next project?
My next project is to take a breather! I need to focus a bit more on my own golf as I’m planning on playing in all the English Seniors’ events in 2020 having already played some this year and proving that I can compete at this level. I would also like to finish making the curtains and blinds for our house which we refurbished nearly 4 years ago! Of course, I will certainly be keeping an eye on my LAP ladies and look forward to seeing them ‘getting hooked’ and flourishing as lady golfers of the future.