My first experience of golf was at the local driving range with my Dad at 8 years old. I remember him giving me a club and telling me to just hit the ball, no technical information, just to hold the club and hit the ball. I then started to attend junior sessions at the range, run by at PGA professional. I was then able to join my local club where my mum and dad were already members. I was lucky there was 4 girls in total that joined at the same time, we would all go up on a Tuesday evening with the junior organiser and hit balls, have competitions and even play a few holes when the course was quiet. I quickly found love for the game, as did the other girls of the same age and ability. As I got better, I wanted to get my handicap and play more. A number of the ladies at Droitwich would volunteer to play in competitions with me, which encourage me. I got involved with the Worcestershire county girls. This was great for supporting me as I started in the sport and gave me the opportunity to compete in matches, integrate with other members of the county at pre-season days and take part in county coaching days, which provided me with the chance to meet and play with other girls but also improve my game.
Not all the experiences I have had in golf have been positive and I have faced a number of barriers, but I was lucky to have the environment and the support from others to help overcome these and the negative perceptions that come with women and golf. The equality barriers in the past made it hard for me at times to integrate with the junior boys as they would be governed by the mens rules meaning their access to the course would be different to mine as a lady member. I however found myself more determined to compete with and play with the boys, my handicap started at 36 but came down quickly and this enabled me to be picked for the junior club team. I played for the team for a number of years and became the first female junior captain which was a turning point and something I felt proud to do at the club. My school summer holidays would be booked up with golf all the way through playing both socially and competitively.
Golf has given me a lot over the years, its given me a hobby which enjoy playing both socially and competitively. I have been able to compete in a sport I enjoy representing the county for both the junior and ladies 1st team, I have gained a number of friends some who are very close to me and I meet my fiancé through the game and we are getting married this year. It has also allowed me to grow as a person giving me more confidence to speak to others and mix with a wide range of people who are different ages and backgrounds.
My advice for anyone new to the game is to not think about the negatives and the stories but to create your own opinions of the game. Golf can provide so much more than just a sport and I find even if i have a bad day on the course I then feel more determined to go back out there and play well next time.