Women & Golf is delighted to welcome Sarah Bennett on board as a regular columnist. Sarah is only the second female to become Captain of The Professional Golfers’ Association (The PGA).
In her first column as part of Women and Girls Golf Week, Sarah Bennett reveals her route into golf and how she has enjoyed a successful career in the game.
My golfing career consists of many ‘sliding door’ moments and in many cases being in right place, sometimes the specific place, at the right time!
I come from a family of non-golfers and by chance our home backed onto the local golf course. The local PGA Professional, Douglas Parmenter, spotted me playing in our back garden in the 1980s and he offered me a lesson. The rest is history and from that moment I was totally hooked (pardon the pun!)
Within four years of picking up a golf club for the first time, I had played full-time on the England Amateur circuit, and I had turned professional off a plus four handicap.
I enjoyed a professional career that saw me compete on the USA Futures Tour, Asian, Australian and the Ladies European Tour. These playing and life experiences were invaluable with many learnings which can’t be written in a book. I was passionate about my roles within the organisations and held Player Council committee positions within the Ladies European Tour and now The PGA.
I was determined to succeed as a player, but I would recommend any aspiring golfer reading this to combine further education within The PGA. The avenues and career pathways available in the golf industry are now being exposed.
A playing career cut short
My playing career was cut short due to a sudden severe balance disorder which I manage every day, but this was the start of my career change as a PGA Professional, which on a daily basis is varied, fulfilling and a part of my life I would have never changed.
My enrolment to The PGA was slightly daunting as I was a more mature student but my time management and organisational abilities really helped me to ensure the work, study and playing elements complimented each other. I was awarded the top TGI East Regional PGA Assistant of the Year for all three years and I narrowly missed out on the Beverley Lewis Trophy of Female Assistant of the Year.
I realised my passion of communication and assisting others was an ideal fit to specialise in the field of coaching. Soon after achieving my PGA qualification, I secured the role of England Under-18 East Regional Coach for the girls and boys squads. My appointment as the Under-18 England Team Coach against Spain was a very special week for me as I utilised my tournament experience as a player to best help with the team’s preparational work.
A pinnacle of my career
My current full-time coaching role is different every day, encouraging and retaining both new golfers in a one-to-one or group setting. The camaraderie and friendship that I have built through my ‘GolfingGirl’ clinics and coaching trips has also given me great pleasure.
I am also excited to the how women’s professional game is becoming more visible, with the standard of play excelling on all tours and PGA Members are really making a difference to our golfing public.
This year will live in my memory bank following my appointment as Captain of The Professional Golfers’ Association (The PGA). It is undoubtably the pinnacle of my career and it is a privilege that was totally unexpected. I am determined to continue to raise the profile of our sport which has been my life for 37 years in all sectors of the game.