England Golf has given its backing to the Slingsby Golf Academy as part of a continued drive to introduce more females to the game.
To coincide with the reopening of golf courses in England, Slingsby Gin has launched a new initiative aimed at promoting the sport to women via a group of celebrity, novice golfers.
Singer-songwriter Fleur East, TV presenter Helen Skelton, Sky Sports Formula 1 presenter Natalie Pinkham and broadcaster Bela Shah have all been inducted to the Slingsby Golf Academy for 2021.
Through the Slingsby Golf Academy, the four new star cadets will work one-on-one weekly with their partner PGA Professional.
Their challenge; to learn how to play golf before competing against each other in a nerve-wracking play-off to qualify for the BMW PGA Championship Celebrity Pro-Am.
Slingsby wants to use the Golf Academy to champion female participation in the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am, highlighting that golf is a game for anyone and influencing a non-traditional golf audience to pick up a club.
With the support of England Golf and The PGA, Slingsby will use the series as a catalyst to provide information, beginner events and a pathway for those inspired to get into golf.
The cadets’ journey will be featured in a novice to competitor five-part series capturing the highs, lows and learnings as they take to the sport and train to compete for a place in the Pro-Am.
This takes place at the prestigious Wentworth Club on Wednesday 8 September, the day before the tournament tees off.
The winner of the play-off will also receive a £5,000 bonus cheque from Slingsby to donate to a charity of their choice.
England Golf CEO Jeremy Tomlinson said: “England Golf is delighted to be supporting Slingsby’s celebrity Golf Academy and I am very much looking forward to seeing Fleur, Helen, Natalie and Bela take to the course!
“We at England Golf are committed to supporting and encouraging female participation in golf. Sharing this vision in practice with Slingsby forms a hugely positive part of this.
“We have a dedicated team who work tirelessly in their quest to increase the numbers of women playing the sport we love.
“Breaking down the boundaries that many women face when wanting to get into golf is no easy task and I believe this documented series will help us on our journey to eliminating the misconceptions about the game.”
Looking ahead to the challenge, Helen Skelton said: “My dad has always tried to get me into golf but working away and with young kids, I never carved out time to do these things for myself. Now is my opportunity.”
Fleur East is hoping bring some X-Factor of her own to the academy. She said: “I like to be able to be able to inspire and create change, to be part of a movement. It’s really exciting to take on something new and be involved in something that’s bigger than me.”
Natalie Pinkham is glad to get involved in a game that is modernising.
She said: “Anything that gets participation up and gets women talking about sport and encouraging a can-do attitude is just brilliant.
“I’ll never forget going to a golf course many years ago and being told I wasn’t allowed into the bar, not because I wasn’t over 18 but because I was a woman.
“Finally, it feels like things are falling into place, as they should be.”
Bela Shah added: “I talk a lot about sport and golf for my job, but I’ve not had the opportunity to play the game, so I’m so excited to learn the ropes myself.”
The first episode of the Slingsby Golf Academy will be available to watch on Slingsby’s social media channels (@slingsbysocial) from 6 April, with clips broadcast on Sky Sports through the journey.
Marcus Black, co-founder of Slingsby Gin, is sure the four celebrities will shine.
He said: “With their involvement in this campaign, we can let women know that golf is a sport that can be built into busy life schedules allowing you to be active and enjoy socialising with friends at the same time.”