Sophie Walker and Rachel Jennings, who were top England amateurs before embarking on professional careers, are joining England Golf as selectors for the women’s and girls’ teams.
They will attend championships and training sessions this season and help to pick the players who will represent England in international championships and matches.
Sophie Walker, 30, (pictured top) was both the English girls’ and women’s stroke play champion as an amateur and has a degree in sports science and management. She is just starting her ninth season on the Ladies European Tour and is keen to forge closer links between the amateur and professional game, believing there should be a seamless continuation between the two.
Rachel Jennings, 26, was a Curtis Cup player who won the English girls’ and French lady junior titles before turning professional. But after two seasons she decided that Tour life was not for her and is now the mother of a five-month-old daughter and works in the insurance industry. “Looking back I realise I wanted a career, while carrying on playing golf,” she said.
Rebecca Wood, Women’s Performance Manager for England Golf said: ”I am so excited about Sophie and Rachel becoming women and girls’ selectors for 2015, they will add a tremendous amount of value to the selection committee and the programme with their knowledge and experience.
“Sophie is an experienced LET player who is so passionate about her home country and forging links between the amateur and professional games. Rachel was a very successful amateur, loved representing England and her experiences as a professional can be used positively to educate the players in the pathway. They will both be very positive role models for the programme.
“Sophie and Rachel join Anne Baines, Chris Pascall, Elaine Ratcliffe and myself on this year’s selection committee. I cannot thank these volunteers enough for their time, professionalism and passion for the role.”
As well as helping to select players, Sophie and Rachel both feel that sharing their experiences with up-and-coming amateurs will be useful for those who are considering professional careers.
Both are also keen to put back into the game. “I really enjoyed being involved with England as an amateur and I’ve always wanted to give back,” said Sophie, who is based in Lincolnshire and represents Forest Pines.
“I know what to look for in a player and it’ll be interesting to see how good they are. I was lucky enough to play in pretty much every team I wanted, but you only do that if you’re winning or performing well.”
Rachel, from Staffordshire, added: “I want to give something back, help the younger players coming along and help England to be successful. We’ve both got a lot we can tell the girls and they can ask us for advice – and they’ll know that we can remember being watched by the selectors too!”
Image © Tristan Jones/LET