Women & Golf are delighted to have partnered with MCB Financial Services. Editor Emma Ballard meets the MCB team to talk about all things golf

At Women & Golf, we're excited to have formed a new partnership with MCB Financial Services. MCB Financial Services was established in 2003 and consists of fully qualified and independent Financial Services Advisers directly authorised by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). Based in Norfolk and servicing clients across the whole of the UK.

MCB Financial Services can look after all your financial needs including mortgages, personal insurances and protection, commercial finance and business protection.

You'll be hearing regularly from MCB across the next year, so we thought it was a perfect time to introduce the team we are going to be working with. Development and Project Manager, Alex Hunter and Mortgage and Protection Advisers - Hannah Stoner, Pippa Heywood, and Emma McCarter.

When was your first introduction to golf and how did it go?

Alex: I had lessons for my 47th birthday! Thought I would give it a go as I had some friends that played and suddenly had more time to dedicate to something new and time consuming! Prior to that I worked more and had children to ferry round to all their various activities so there definitely was not time for golf at that point. I loved my introductory lessons and could see that this was a skill I could learn as well as something that would provide a new challenge for me. A friend lent me a set of her old clubs initially and patiently took me out on the golf course to practice. I was soon addicted!

Hannah: I started playing golf in June 2022 when my partner bought me a set of clubs for my 30th birthday, it was something I’d been saying I would try for a couple of years as he has a keen interest in golf, but I’d never got around to it, some say I was pushed, but I haven’t looked back! I had a few lessons with the pro at a local club and whilst I can hit a half decent shot, the inconsistency drove me mad! I’m not the most patient person in the world, but as a keen sportswoman, I was determined to improve.

Pippa: I have two older brothers and a Dad who all played golf. My brothers became scratch golfers and my Dad was the Club Captain. My Mum enjoyed watching the boys play too so from a young age I would spend many hours in a clubhouse waiting for them to finish their rounds. I remember asking how long it would take for them to play around “about 3 or 4 hours” Mum would reply “ but then they are having lunch and have another 18 holes to play”- cue dramatic throw of hands and grunt!!!

Emma: I was first introduced to golf at a Putt and Pizza Night hosted by MCB Financial Services along with a team of local solicitors, back in August 2021. It was great fun and included putting and chipping challenges followed by pimms and pizza. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, and loved how sociable golf can be.

What were your thoughts on golf before you started?

Alex: I wasn’t sure how it would go in terms of learning to play golf and whether I would be any good. Also, having done lots of mainly cardio related sports and activities over the years, I wasn’t sure that it would provide me with much exercise.

Hannah: Before I got with my partner five years ago, I always thought golf was for old retired men! Having relocated during Covid and making new friends and joining new sporting groups in a new area, I soon discovered this was not the case, we have lots of golfing friends and colleagues of all ages, and seeing the women's game growing is fantastic, as a woman in predominantly male sports (rugby and weightlifting to name a couple) I love promoting women joining in and gaining an interest in something they may not have thought was for them before.

Pippa: I had lots of lessons when I was younger and did enjoy them. However, I am so competitive so when I would attempt to play a round with one of my brothers I was soon sulking that they were so much better than me (can I point out I was 7/8 years old). I remember thinking there were so few young female golfers playing in the competitions and always separate prizes for the girls so all I needed to do was to take part and I would receive a prize, although winning 12 golf balls wasn’t tempting enough (chocolate - then maybe it would have been a different story)!!!

Emma: I had often thought that golf looked like a lovely sport to participate in; especially being able to enjoy walking round the beautifully cared for courses, with friends, whilst enjoying the game. However, I felt that it seemed a more male environment and potentially costly.

How do you interact with golf now?

Alex: I am now seven years in and loving different aspects of golf. I enjoy casual social golf as well as playing in competitive matches and some opens all with either women or in mixed formats. I have been fortunate to have played lots of amazing courses across the UK and Scotland as well as some golf abroad. I have also made so many friends through golf and I am really thankful for that. It has become my go-to sport.

Hannah: With two little ones, a full time job and a number of hobbies I don’t play as much as I’d like to. We make it to the driving range as a family as often as possible, you will sometimes catch me there at 6am before anybody else has risen. I was a fair weather player last season but this year I am embracing the cold and don’t even mind a round in the rain. I have managed to reduce my Handicap since September from the autumn rounds I have played. My partner and I will often go and play a twilight nine holes on a Sunday evening when my mum comes to look after the children.

Pippa: My attitude to golf has changed since having a son that loves the game (I never thought I would allow my own son to play). He plays a lot of team sports so playing an individual sport too is so good for him. I remember when he was nine and he played a round with the Lady Captain of our local club (she is in her late 60’s). I watched them walk down the last hole chatting away. He tendered the flag whilst she putted in. He took off his cap, placed it under his armpit, shook her hand and congratulated her on her game. I cried! It’s the etiquette of golf that I love, the fresh air, talking to others, eye contact and getting those steps in!

Emma: My main interaction with golf now is through the MCB Ladies Golf Network event, held monthly. There are usually around 8-10 ladies, from all different business backgrounds, who come together for an hour lesson with a golf pro followed by coffee. It is the first experience of golf for many of these ladies, so we all feel we are in a safe place to swing the clubs and really enjoy the experience.

What are the benefits of golf to you (both personally and professionally)?

Alex: I think it’s an ideal sport for well-being and a work-life balance. Four hours out in the fresh air or sunshine with other people is a real tonic for me and I love the social side. Surprisingly, it has been great exercise too. (10km walks pushing a trolley, and with hills involved at some courses, definitely gets the heart pumping!) It’s also great for opportunities to network and make work connections with other like-minded golf enthusiasts.

Hannah: I love being outdoors, sport is like medicine to the brain for me and golf is no different, as frustrating as it is, as soon as I hit a nice shot I’m smiling and happy again! I meet so many people in my line of work and in partner companies who play golf, so we have lots of events and networking rounds planned for the 2024 season.

Pippa: I now enjoy playing nine holes with my son and leaving our mobile phones at home. I love to exercise so getting your steps in without even realising you are exercising is a bonus. Professionally golf is very sociable and played by all ages. A lot of business owners play golf and I am a true believer in life ‘its not what you know, it’s who you know’.

Emma: I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of being outside in the fresh air, enjoying the whole environment and learning the game. It’s an invigorating start to the day. I also feel that golf provides the opportunity to speak to colleagues and grow the relationships with our business partners, to walk and talk is always a great way to communicate. This relaxed way of communication has always stood me in good stead when speaking to my teenage children too!

Women & Golf Reader Offer

As a partner of Women & Golf, MCB Financial Services would like to offer you a free initial consultation, offering their expertise and guidance to Women & Golf readers to assist with all financial needs both now and in the future. All provided by Hannah, Pippa and Emma, all friendly and helpful advisers you can trust.

How to get in touch?

Whether you have a simple question, want to plan for the future or look at your options right now, please get in touch and MCB will be happy to help. Simply email [email protected] and one of the team above will be in contact within 48 hours to arrange a suitable time for a chat. Depending on location we can either meet face-to-face or conduct remote meetings via Teams / Zoom. MCB look forward to hearing from you.

Find out more about MCB Financial Services by visiting their website here.