Women & Golf’s Editor, Alison Root, caught up with 18-year-old Emily Furniss from Worcestershire, a very determined young lady and an award-winning volunteer.
The Golf Foundation Presidents’ Awards were held at Wentworth last month, an occasion that celebrates the ‘fantastic people at the heart of junior golf’, and one of the 10 award winners was Emily Furniss. The 18-year-old and member at Gaudet Luce Golf Club in Worcestershire, won the Montgomerie Award that is presented to a young volunteer who has helped to inspire other young people through golf. Women & Golf’s Editor, Alison Root, caught up with Emily at the awards ceremony.
Who inspired you to play golf?
My dad. I tried golf when I was 9-years-old, but at that time I was more interested in karate. At 12-years-old I started going to Gaudet Luce Golf Club with my dad, it was a nice way to spend time with him and I joined the junior coaching academy. I’m an only child, but we’re trying to encourage my mum to start playing golf so we can have family days out.
You are on crutches at the moment, so when will you be able to play golf again?
In 2015 I was diagnosed with a tumour in my knee. It was devastating because at the time I was a member of the England U16 training squad. In fact, it was my strength and conditioning coach who told me to go and see a doctor as I was in pain all the time. My recent operation involved a bone graft and a biopsy of cartilage in my left knee. In six weeks time, cartilage will be injected back into my knee, and I’m hoping that following these next few months, that be the end of it. It will be next year until I can really start thinking about playing golf again.
During this frustrating period you’ve thrown yourself into studying and volunteering. What does this involve?
I’m currently studying for a Sport BTEC diploma at Worcester Sixth Form College. Every Tuesday evening I spend an hour helping to coach the ladies at Gaudet Luce GC and on occasional weekends I’ll assist the junior county girls. I also volunteer as a guide for the Blind Golf Association and will be helping out at the England Golf Disability Championships this year. In addition, I’ve joined the Golf Foundation/England Golf’s Young Ambassador Group that includes 11 members. We usually meet once a month and discuss new tactics that we can use to encourage more young people into golf and ways of retaining them in the sport.
What other skills have you learnt through golf?
Golf helps to improve your social skills, and so ultimately gives you more confidence. Two years ago I couldn’t speak in front of 10 people, but last year I was junior captain at Gaudet Luce GD and did a speech in front of almost 200, and now today, with all these people! I have also learnt so much through the Young Ambassador programme.
What do you believe are the challenges for girls’ golf?
It’s not always easy, girls and boys have so many different options. You need to catch girls at a young age and then find ways to encourage them to stay. When I was younger it was mainly my friends that I made at the golf club that kept me going. If you are determined to play, then nothing will stop you – I haven’t let anything stop me!
Who are your favourite professional players?
I love Charley Hull, probably because she has helped to break down barriers, and doesn’t let anything stop her. I like different players for different reasons: Mickelson and McIlroy for how far they can hit the ball, and also Mickelson’s amazing short game and Jordan Speith’s putting.
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