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Ladies tee off to break down the barriers to female golfing

Joan Brown and Kate Darcy want to encourage more women to take up golf

It’s a sport that can be played at any time of year and at age, ability, and fitness level, making it the first choice for the 4.8 million people who took a course in the UK in 2021.

And clubs up and down the country are working hard to erase the old stereotypes of golf as a male-dominated, elitist sport.

The R&A launched the Women in Golf Charter, supported by England Golf and other organizations from across the industry, to encourage more women and girls to both play and pursue a career in the game.

According to England Golf, only 15 per cent of club members nationwide are female, which means our country is lagging far behind many other European countries.

But clubs are taking action and among those committed to boosting female membership and dispelling common misconceptions surrounding the sport is Beau Desert Golf Club in Hazelslade, Cannock.

The Women In Golf committee, led by committee chairman Joan Brown and Women In Golf champion Kate Darcy, has been taking steps to make it easier for women to get into golf.

“The club is committed to encouraging more women and girls into the sport. We set up a committee to look at how we could enhance what we’re doing to attract ladies and girls. We’ve developed a route way into golf and one of the things we’re trying to do is demystify golf and break down the stereotypes that it’s an old-fashioned game for the elite,” explains Kate.

They want to make the game more accessible and remove barriers such as the perceived costs involved with becoming a golf club member.

“Ladies don’t have to take out full membership to begin with, they can test the water. They can join as an academy member, have lessons with a golf pro, access the social functions and have some access to the course when they are able to play it.

“It gives ladies the chance to see what it’s like, have lessons and meet the other ladies,” explains Kate.

The club has been awarded Women In Golf Charter status in recognition of the work it is doing to boost female participation.

A taster session, held at the end of February, proved a great success and another will take place on May 14 at 3pm.

It is aimed at complete beginners and also women who have previously played and want to return to the game.

All equipment is provided and participants will be given an introduction to golf and have the chance to chat to some of the members. They can then sign up for lessons with a PGA professional.

“Usually, when you pick up a golf club, you will know from the start whether you are going to like it,” says Joan.

“I started playing six years ago when I was 64. My husband had played for 40 years and I would watch him. He just said one day that I should try hitting a ball – I hit a ball and I was hooked.

“What I like about golf is that every time you hit the ball it’s a challenge. Every game is different so you will never play the same game twice. You’re always learning,” she tells Weekend.

Kate has been playing for almost 10 years and loves being active outdoors

It was a similar story for Kate, who has been playing for almost 10 years. “My husband played and I thought if he’s going to be off playing golf every weekend, I’ll give it a go too – and I was hooked.

“It helps to keep me fit, keep my active and outside in nature. A lot of sports are played indoors and that didn’t appeal to me. Golf is a sport you can play all over the world. You can go on holiday and find a course,” she explains.

Beau Desert – which means beautiful wilderness – was founded in 1911 on land which until the 1930s was part of the Beaudesert estate owned by the Marquess of Anglesey.

The club’s ladies section, which currently has 45 members, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

The 18-hole course, is regarded as one of the Top 50 in England, will host the English Women’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship in August.

It was designed by Herbert Fowler and features heather and gorse-lined fairways, framed by acres of firs and spruces.

Both Joan and Kate say the picturesque surroundings definitely add to their enjoyment of playing the course.

“There is a famous quote that says: golf is a good walk spoilt. But I would say golf is a beautiful walk made every more beautiful. It’s a good walk enhanced,” says Joan.

“The course here at Beau Desert is particularly beautiful. I travel from Derbyshire to play here. I’ve got a golf course within five miles of where I live but I come here because it’s a beautiful course,” adds Kate.

As well as the health benefits – players can walk between three and six miles in the average game of golf – there are plenty of opportunities to make friends and attend social activities.

“There’s a lovely camaraderie and team spirit amongst the women. When you’re playing, people want you to play well. Even it’s a competitive game, people say ‘well-played’ for every shot you play well,” says Joan.

To book at place at the taster session or for more information, contact the club on 01543 422626 and ask for the pro shop or email generalmanager@bdgc.co.uk

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