A Cheshire club which aimed to mark its 100th year in 2020 by introducing 100 girls to the game of golf has hit its target – four years early.
Sandiway Golf Club launched its ambitious campaign in January, supported by Golf Foundation funding – and has hailed the response from local schools and junior girls’ social groups as “phenomenal”.
The aim of the project is to inspire girls to take part in taster sessions specially designed to appeal to their sporting ability and sense of fun.
With the campaign just four months old, the club has already reached out to and coached 102 girls.
Campaign co-ordinator and Sandiway member, Ruth Elliott-Smith, says: “We have had a phenomenal response from local schools. All of those we have approached have welcomed us to take over a sports lesson to give the girls golf coaching.
Sandiway PGA professional Gareth Jones coaches girls aged from 9 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 then invites the girls to a free session at Sandiway’s newly-refurbished practice ground at its Chester Road.
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.
Adds Ruth: “Our target now is to get 100 girls attending our free golf group sessions on Saturdays at the club.
“The first will be at 2pm, on April 30. If you know a local girl aged between 6 and 18 who would like to attend one of Sandiway’s free group lessons for girls, contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone 01606 883247.”
Ruth went on: “Women and junior girls are under-represented in golf and Sandiway wants to help redress the balance.
“For us to exceed our target in the first few months when we had given ourselves four years, is amazing and just shows the demand is there. We just need to let the girls know that golf needs them and wants them and I believe we will continue to exceed our expectations.”
Andy Leigh, Golf Foundation Regional Development Officer, said: “The volunteers and coaching staff are very committed to the project, which is key to its success. It has been great that the Golf Foundation has been able to support the project with our HSBC Golf Roots programme and the resources and funding that come with it.
“It has been a pleasure to meet Ruth on a regular basis to help steer the project and I visited a school to see the excellent Tri-Golf delivery by the club’s PGA Coaches, Gareth and Matt.
“I look forward to seeing the girls enjoying learning how to play golf through the Junior Golf Passport and also enjoying the benefits that golf brings at Sandiway Golf Club.”
Alison Lysons, development officer for the Cheshire Golf Development Group which supports clubs attract more players, increase membership and develop a stronger future, says: “Sandiway is to be congratulated on the fantastic results it has achieved in such a short time.
“This project just goes to show that where there is a will at a club to take golf out into the local community, they will find new players ready and willing to get involved.
“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 and girl members. Among other initiatives is a pilot project, involving 100 clubs, to look at different ways of growing women’s golf. Click here for more information.
Top: Weaverham High School pupils with Gareth Jones (right), Sandiway PGA professional, and his assistant Matt Dunbabin.