Judy Murray knows a thing or two about coaching sport and like tennis, when it comes to golf, she believes that males and females should be taught differently.
By Lewine Mair
Judy Murray, the famous mum of Andy and Jamie, knows a thing or two about coaching sport and like tennis, when it comes to golf, she believes that males and females should be taught differently.
When, back in 2013, Scotland’s then First Minister, Alex Salmond, was invited to play in the pro-am ahead of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St Andrews, he said he would like nothing so much as to team up with Judy Murray, mother of Andy and Jamie. Judy turned down the invitation to the golf side of things, albeit only on the grounds that she did not play. But the rest of the invitation she accepted, coming along on one of the championship days and taking a lesson from none other than the then 16-year-old Lydia Ko.
She could play a bit, of course she could. As a former Scottish No 1 in the realm of women’s tennis, this famous mum had more than enough in the way of hand-eye coordination to give the ball a healthy whack. What is more, no-one was under any illusions as to how, if she did have the time to devote to golf she would prove every bit as wily as she was on a tennis court.
It was earlier this year, when she was on her way to speak to a group of businesswomen golfers at one more highly successful SSE Invitational Day at Royal Mid Surrey, that Judy spoke to Women & Golf of her views on boys v girls. To me, teaching girls is altogether different from teaching boys in that that women seem to need kid-glove treatment.
“You have to be so careful what you say to them,” she began, before furnishing an illustration which struck an immediate chord. “If you say to a girl, let’s go back on court and practise your backhand for half an hour, you can be pretty sure that the girl in question will give you a dark look before demanding to know, “What’s wrong with my backhand?
“If, on the other hand, you were to say precisely the same to a boy, he would probably say that it was a good idea and be happy to get on with it.''
“A girl’s confidence,” she continued, “is much more easily shaken than a boy’s - and this, I would think, is no different in golf to how it is in tennis. “You have to make a girl feel good about herself if she’s going to be emotionally in control. If you have said something wrong, she will struggle to recover from it and it will be on her mind right through a match. Boys ‘park’ things better.”
Having worked with the Scottish Sports Council on how best to get girls interested in playing sport, Judy has done enough in the way of research to suggest that they do better to learn with other girls rather than in the company of boys who will be too keen to show that they are better. She also has more than an inkling that girls do better to learn in a group environment, her feeling being that if only a couple of teenagers turn up and one decides that she is not enjoying herself, the chances are that both will do.
At the same time, she thinks that there should be a good social side to whatever game they choose; and that, if they are not getting it, they will look for it in another setting. (All of which should have golf clubs up and down the land wondering if they are putting potentially up-and-coming young players to flight with their often antiquated attitudes towards the need for teenagers to have a good time.)
The above is an extract from the November/December 2016 issue of Women & Golf magazine, on sale Friday. Never miss an issue click here to subscribe and enjoy W&G delivered to your door.
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