Aimi Bullock, Director of Development at EDGA explains how the Rose Ladies Series helped raise the profile of female disability golf in the UK
Back in 2020, when the Rose Ladies Series was announced, I reached out to Molly at Excel Sports Management to see if there was anything they could do to help promote female disability golf, and they very kindly invited us to their tournament at The Shire. We had four females with disabilities playing in that event and we played ahead of the field which was a fantastic experience.
I'd hoped to use that as a bit of a platform. But with Covid and lockdowns and restrictions, that really hadn't happened. So earlier this year, I got in touch with Molly again and explained how disappointed I was that I hadn’t been able to use The Shire event to raise more awareness of female disability golf. She suggested that it would be possible to build on the first year and offered four places at four of their events.
In May we were to play at Woburn and Brokenhurst Manor and in September, North Hants and The Buckinghamshire. I was so excited that we had been offered these opportunities to play. Although four doesn’t sound many, if I’m honest, I was struggling for numbers at the time. Ellie Perks who had played with us at The Shire had just had back surgery, so she wasn’t able to play.
Recruiting players for the Rose Ladies Series
I decided to take to social media and posted in a few Facebook groups, just to reach out and try and find more females who already played golf that had a disability. I managed to find four who really didn’t know much about EDGA and the world of disability golf.
Four ladies isn’t a huge numbers but it’s pretty much double the number of England based females that we have registered with EDGA, all because of the exposure of the Rose Ladies Series. Everyone was then given the opportunity to play in at least one event.
A truly professional experience
At the events we played off the same tee as the pros and so that we could enjoy ourselves and feel more relaxed we played a stableford competition. As you can imagine we’re all used to playing off the red tees, so to play off the pro tees added quite a few more yards! It was great to experience what life as a pro and playing in a pro competition is all about.
It was also great to be able to watch some of the pros and chat with them when they had finished playing. A truly inspiring experience to get up close and personal to them.
We were able to create a real buzz around social media when we were at the events which generated more interest. We’re hearing from more females with disabilities wanting to know more about disabled golf.
Female disability golf day
Also, between the May and September Rose Ladies Series events we had a female disability golf day, which was really great. People took the day off work, drove down and stayed in a hotel overnight, just so they could be part of the day, which was fantastic. There’s a real sort of community starting to build and everybody is really keen to keep in touch with each other.
Growing the number of female EDGA members
I’d like to get across how grateful we are to the Rose Ladies Series for providing us with the opportunity they did this year. When I say that we've doubled the number of females registered with EDGA In England, it's not huge numbers, but it's massive on a global scale. We’ve probably got more females now registered in England, with our organisation than any other country in the world. So that is quite massive. And in my role as Director of Development for EDGA, I need to work out how to translate that into other countries. I love the idea of trying to work with the Ladies European Tour, that would be amazing and a massive boost in EDGA’s drive to get more female members across Europe.
Now we’re heading into autumn and winter, things will die down a little on the events side as it just becomes more difficult to play, the inability to use buggies and things like that. But it will finally mean that I have time to invest into organising disability golf taster sessions for females, so that we can bring golf to a new audience. It is something I’ve been wanting to do for ages but Covid got in the way.
At EDGA raising awareness is quite fundamental to what we do. Golf is not to be thought of as just 18 holes. For some golf is just putting in their living room, chipping a ball in the back garden, reading a magazine or just going to a driving range. It’s not all about 18 hole competitions. We look at it from the point of view that it’s a great form of physical exercise, when you play you are controlling your own body to hit a stationary ball. You are looking after your own health at that moment in time, so it’s great for rehab. We’re there to help anyone who wants to embark on their own golf journey.
Our new EDGA Ambassador Alice Hewson
I just want to finish by saying how excited I am to have Alice Hewson as an EDGA Ambassador. She came to the EDGA RSM fundraising day and was really inspired by the work that we did with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's groups on the day. So, after some discussion with her she is now wearing the EDGA logo on her kit. It’s great to have her as an Ambassador with Andy Sullivan.
Next week is a big week as we have the RSM European Play-off Series at Stratford-on-Avon Golf Club, which will see some of the best golfers with disability competing against each other. Alongside the play-off series we’ll be running a disability get into golf session and Alice will be there to support which is really cool. I can’t wait!
Visit the EDGA website to find out more.