Ok, that’s not quite true, I do love playing golf. But what I love more about the game are all the opportunities that it brings and life lessons. I’m sure that my story isn’t unusual.
By Charlotte Hope
Ok, that’s not quite true, I do love playing golf. But what I love more about the game are all the other opportunities that it brings and life lessons. I’m sure that my story isn’t unusual.
Having been working abroad, I was sad to learn on my return to my old golf club recently that they no longer have a junior team and this got me thinking. Whilst there are a growing number of initiatives to encourage more women and girls into golf, are we doing enough to educate them about all of the other opportunities that golf presents, and the doors that the game will inevitably open for them in the future?
I was introduced to the game by my dad and started to play golf at the age of 12. As many juniors do when they first take up the sport, I turned up at a local public course every Saturday morning to join a small huddle of often less-than willing boys (predominantly) and girls for lessons at the teaching academy. And despite being one of the only girls to turn up every week, I loved it.
I joined my first golf club at the age of 14. For anyone who knows me now this might come as a surprise, but as a child I was shy, and faced with the intimidating environment of a typically aging members’ club, I was painfully quiet and totally uncertain of my future in the game. Luckily for me, I was welcomed into the ladies’ section with open arms and I played in as many competitions as possible. Looking back, this was the first of many life lessons from golf; for the integrity and self-honesty that playing competitively demands, and the opportunity to interact and socialise with people from all walks of life - young and old.
I played for the club’s junior team, progressing to represent my county, and eventually playing at a national level. I realise now that whilst I loved competing, the actual matches and tournaments were almost irrelevant. As I made my way round the country playing golf, I made some very good friends with whom I still see and keep in contact with (one will be maid of honour next week!). Lesson number two.
After leaving sixth-form I was encouraged to follow a more academic degree course at university, having spent my secondary school life at a grammar school. Instead, I decided that, whilst I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with my career, I certainly wanted it to be in the golf industry. It was a game that I loved (and still do), I had made so many friends and learnt so much since playing golf, and I genuinely saw a lot of opportunities in the industry, particularly as a female. So, I studied Applied Golf Management, and combined golf and studying in three of the best years of my life before starting my career. Lesson number three.
Lesson number four. The golf industry is huge, and if you’re lucky enough to find your niche (like being female), it’s even bigger. Many of my friends, male and female, have gone on to varied careers within the golfing world - managing leading resorts, heading up women and girls’ development for England Golf, working in the digital team for Titleist, and coaching across the globe. I have been lucky enough to work at some of the most prestigious golf courses in the world, including the Belfry Hotel and later in the Middle East, and I count myself very lucky to still be working in the industry, albeit from behind my laptop - yet another example of the wealth of opportunities that golf has created.
We can all agree that for golf to thrive we need more women and girls to get into the game. Whether that is by encouraging people to play competitively, socially, or simply as a means to stay fit, are females introduced to the sport being made aware of the endless opportunities that the game can bring to their lifetime?