Women and Girls’ Golf Week: Rafiah Banday, 14, on gaining competition experience in the best game in the world

Rafiah Banday, 14, thinks golf is the best game in the world, eventually she wants to turn professional and she’s currently gaining as much experience of national competitions as possible. The two-handicapper from Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club tells her golfing story:

What do you love about golf?

Making new friends. Seeing lots of different places whilst travelling to play in different competitions, enjoying beautiful scenery at Surrey golf courses.

When and why did you start playing golf?

I started playing at seven because my parents encouraged me and my older brother started playing golf a few years earlier than me. I used to go to his golf club with my parents to pick him up after his golf finished.

Did you enjoy it straight away?

Yes – although initially I just used to just chip and putt with my younger brother by the 18th green whilst waiting to pick up my older brother. I started enjoying it even more when I won my first competition at the age of nine.

How quickly did you get a handicap?

At first I was playing at the range and short game area, then I started playing in the three holes group on the main course for a few months and then after that I went to the nine holes group and then the 18 holes group. I think altogether it took me about a year and a half to get my handicap. It’s taken me about five years to progress from my first handicap of 36 to my current handicap of two

Who or what has helped you?

England Golf regional squad training – by having structured training not only in golf related matters but also in strength and conditioning, Surrey county training, Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club training and good practice facilities at my club, Personal coach lessons and most of all, all support I receive from my family.

Best golfing experience?

Playing for England against Spain in May 2018 and winning two of my matches – and travelling by plane with my team mates.

Worst golfing experience?

Winning the Redbourn Golf Club Wee Wonders qualifier in June 2012 – and sadly not being able to go to the finals at home of golf, St Andrews.

What are your golfing goals?

This year’s main goal is to play in lots of national competitions and play my best. The goal for the next two years is to get a scholarship in a top American university. After finishing my degree/studies my goal is to turn professional and play on the LET and LPGA Tours.

What do you enjoy about competition?

All the hard work, planning and effort which goes before the competition starts and giving my best during the competition and winning the competition. This year I have played in lots of county, schools and national competitions – so I would say about I play one every week, but in the summer holidays it’s almost two a week.

Do you have a favourite competition – and why?

Midland U16s competition at Hawkstone Golf Club in April 2018 – because I won the competition by 9 shots!

I also like British Girls’ Open U16 Competition – it’s a new tournament started from this year and was held at Fulford Golf Club in April 2018. I liked it because it had the top 90 girls from Europe competing and I came joint 10th.

I also enjoy Junior County Match Weeks which are played between five counties – I like the team spirit and the atmosphere in these tournaments, it’s like Ryder or Solheim Cup. I entered it first time last year and our county Surrey won it -it’s a match play competition and I love match play.

Do you encourage other girls to play golf?

Last year my school kindly arranged golf lessons for me in the lunchtime so I encouraged two of my friends to join me. Sadly the lessons were stopped this year due to financial constraints on the school and those two girls have not carried on, although sometimes they do express interest in the driving range.

What would you say to persuade other girls to play?

That it’s the best game in the world. You make lots of friends from all over the world as you meet players from different countries when playing tournaments. You get out of it what you put into it. You get health benefits from it, you play it at beautiful places, you get to travel and see lots of places which otherwise you would not have seen.

Inspired by Rafiah? Visit www.getintogolf.org to find out about free ad low cost beginner activities across the country.