England Golf’s Becca Hembrough and Lauren Spray have pledged to use their learnings from the The R&A’s Women in Golf Leadership Development Programme to help drive a more inclusive culture in the game.
Last week, both women attended an online graduation ceremony hosted by The R&A Chief Executive, Martin Slumbers, after successfully completing the two-year course.
Becca (pictured above right alongside Lauren) carries out the role of Performance Manager (women’s golf) for England Golf and admitted she was now more inspired than ever to increase the visibility of high-achieving women in the game in order that they could act as role models for youngsters with a similar pioneering spirit.
Lauren’s post as Women and Girls in Golf Manager sees her dedicate her working life to the advancement of the women’s game and she too shares a vision of creating more opportunities for females keen to play the sport or enjoy a career in the industry.
The R&A Leadership Development Programme was launched in 2019 on the back of the Women in Golf Charter to help support women who have potential to inspire and become future leaders within the golf industry.
In total, 11 women representing the golfing industry in the UK, Canada and Europe signed up for the first course and each was sponsored and supported by a senior manager within their own organisation.
A series of workshops took place – latterly online – which allowed each individual to focus on personal development, share values and ideas and also feed back to The R&A in order to inform teachings for future courses and projects.
“I love that this course has made me sit up and have more conversations with a wider network,” admitted Becca, who first fell in love with the game of golf as an 11-year and went on to represent the England girls’ squad.
“Since taking part in the programme, I have made a positive career step and joined the board at British para Table Tennis as Non-Executive Director.
“I simply would not have applied for this director role if I had not been on the programme.
“It has given me the courage to step up as a proven female in performance sport and create my next steps, rather than wait for them to happen.”
Becca – who also juggled life as a new mum with her course and her day job – is convinced that golf has an opportunity to advance the prospects of women on and off the course.
“Golf is a sport for all and it needs to be seen as such,” added Becca, who left her role as a sport psychologist at The Centre for Sport and Exercise Science at Sheffield Hallam University to join England Golf in 2012.
“Women represent a big opportunity for growth in the game – having more women involved will encourage more into positions of influence.
“I also think that we need to make career options in golf more visible to girls and young women and show them successful female role models.
“This must be underpinned with more women moving into ‘non-traditional’ roles and leadership positions so that it becomes normal for future generations.”
After completing an Applied Golf Management degree at the University of Birmingham, Lauren worked in a number of roles in the golf industry and joined England Golf from the PGA in 2014.
Lauren’s love of the game not only shines through in her work, but also in her desire to be part of a progressive sport which opens doors for women who have the drive and ability to lead from the top.
“There has been a shift with more women involved in the industry as a whole, but it takes time to reach those higher positions,” admitted Lauren, a plus one handicap golfer at Notts Ladies Golf Club.
“Senior role models show that it is possible to break through the glass ceiling, proving to others what can be achieved.
“But I think we also need to promote the variety of roles available and share stories from people who work in those roles.
“There are some great examples and case studies out there and I think if more people shared their stories it would really help gain an insight into the industry.
“Shadowing senior managers is a great way to breed confidence in future leaders.
“That future generation needs to gain confidence, feel able to add their perspective but also understand how they need to develop to make the next step.
“Both Becca and I are huge advocates of the programme – it was a fantastic opportunity and so well presented.
“I’d say to anyone who is given the chance to engage with this leadership programme to take it with both hands.”