England Golf’s Lysa Jones and Sarah Bennett helped to turn the spotlight on sporting opportunities for women when they met the Princess Royal at the launch of the new campaign, This Girl Can Coach.
It is being run by sports coach UK and aims to boost the number of women in coaching and, in turn, increase the number of women taking part in sport.
Lysa and Sarah are both PGA professionals who coach England Golf squads and were among a group of elite women coaches from a range of sports who met the Princess.
“It was brilliant, she really took time with us,” said Lysa, who is based at The Oaks in Yorkshire. Sarah, from Three Rivers in Essex, added: “It’s great to have the support of HRH who was extremely knowledgeable and very interested in our roles.”
England Golf has an open recruitment policy for its squad coaches and both women took advantage of this opportunity to further their careers and showcase their skills. Lysa coaches the East Midland U16 boys’ squad and Sarah is head coach to the U18 East squad.
Both are also committed to encouraging other women to consider coaching careers. “We would be happy to help in any way to raise the profile,” said Lysa.
“It’s all about giving people a chance,” added Sarah. “Having worked through the amateur system right to top level tournament golf I know I can really help up our up-and-coming male and female coaches and new players.”
They urge other women to have confidence in their abilities. “I sometimes think we perceive barriers,” said Sarah. “Taking that little step forward, which is very often out of your comfort zone, can be a career changing move. This is exactly what happened when I applied for the England Golf coaching role.
Lysa added: “This isn’t about men and women, it’s about being recognised as a coach and for your skills. I’ve always been very well supported, but I’ve also been very determined about what I want to do as a player and a coach.”
The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) is working to increase the number of women golf coaches, in both the professional and volunteer workforce. Initiatives include working with England Golf to attract more female volunteer coaches and forging links with the Ladies European Tour to create a flexible way into coaching for touring professionals approaching the end of their playing careers.
Both Sarah and Lysa were supported by England Golf and the PGA to take part in a Women in High Performance programme, run by sports coach UK. They joined elite coaches from cricket, athletics and hockey in a series of sessions which helped them to develop their self-awareness and confidence and to build their strengths and their networks.
The Princess Royal attended the final session, together with representatives of sport governing bodies, and listened to a discussion about applying the benefits of the programme more widely.
Sarah Bennett of Three Rivers Golf & Country Club, Essex
Sarah played on the Ladies European Tour after a successful amateur career. She competed in worldwide events for 20 years before a neurological condition ended her playing days. She is now totally committed to her coaching role and is the head PGA teaching professional at her club. She is also the head coach to the England Golf U18 East squad, and has been the Essex girls’ elite and development squad coach for the past four years. Sarah is heavily involved coaching injured service personnel and is holding her second Golf Fore Recovery event in May. Sarah was a member of the LET committee and now sits on the WPGA committee. She is passionate about growing and developing golf at all levels
“When my playing days were cut short it was difficult to accept, but I was determined to recover. I really enjoy the interaction between my clients and player support is an integral part of my coaching. It is lovely to receive that text or e mail from a happy golfer,” she said.
Lysa Jones of The Oaks Golf Club, Yorkshire
As an amateur, Lysa was the Worcestershire county champion and the winner of the Abraham Trophy, which is awarded to England’s most improved girl golfer. She completed her training and became a PGA professional in 1999 and is widely known for her skill, enthusiasm and passion for coaching. She was one of five coaches recognised by England Golf with new awards to mark their outstanding contribution during 2014.
Lysa has coached the England Golf East Midlands U16 boys’ squad for three years and last season four members were selected to play for the national U16 team. She also works with the Yorkshire U14 girls and the Derbyshire ladies and is an assessor for the PGA. She said: “When I did my training there were only three girls! It’s good to see more women coming into golf coaching now.”
Lysa has been a successful player in WPGA events and has qualified for LET tournaments.
Captions Top: Lysa Jones (left) and Sarah Bennett. Middle: Sarah with the Princess Royal. Above: Lysa with the Princess Royal. Images courtesy of sports coach UK.