Three Cheshire girls who got together through Girls Golf Rocks are heading to the final of a national competition – representing the very female-friendly Lymm Golf Club.
It’s a fairytale success story for the club and for Freya Jackson, Sophie Mullarkey and McKenzie Gourlay, who met up as beginners and next week will be off to the final of England Golf’s Junior Champion Club competition.
They won the Cheshire qualifier and will take on teams from all over the country at England Golf Week at Frilford Heath Golf Club, Oxfordshire, on 16 and 17 August.
There’s much excitement at the club. Junior organiser Corran Meldrum commented: “We are all delighted that our juniors are having so much fun along the way and so proud that three of our mad keen girls have become the first ever team from the club to become the Cheshire Junior Club Team Champions.
We are so excited and we’re saying ‘GO GIRLS! We’ll be right there beside you as the team supporters club!’”
Lymm first started Girl Golf Rocks – a recruitment campaign run by England Golf and the Golf Foundation – back in 2016 after realising their thriving junior section was very short of girls.
Lottie Makin, the club’s Girls Golf Rocks co-ordinator said: “Our strong women’s section was not being reflected in the juniors. We knew we could do better. England Golf invited us to take part in Girls Golf Rocks and we have been working with it ever since.
The club has introduced 60 girls to golf and now has 13 girl members among 64 juniors – including Freya, Sophie and McKenzie. They took part in Girls Golf Rocks to meet other girl golfers and they’ve become enthusiastic players, who are quick to say why they love the sport.
McKenzie, 15, plays off 18 handicap and says: “I like how you can socialise with your friends and when you play really well, it is a great feeling.
Freya, aged 12, plays off 15 and likes the technical challenge: “I love that you have to think about all the individual possibilities that come with a golf shot and that you achieve and play the sport by making your own decisions.”
Sophie, 15, and a 23–handicapper adds: “It’s different and it’s a sport that uses a lot of skill, which I like.”
They’ve all had their individual wins as well as their team success and Freya has also played for Cheshire girls. They also all heap praise on Lymm for the way they’ve been encouraged.
Sophie sums up: “There is a lot of things I like about Lymm, there’s a long list, but the best part is the junior organisers and also the other women that help us out. They do a lot for us girl juniors and are always organising competitions after school with the ladies and always trying to involve us.”
Lymm Golf Club is definitely female friendly and has just been featured in England Golf’s Women and Girls’ Golf Week. The club President is Diana Broady, the chair of the club council is Carol Roberts and the junior captain is Jessica Taylor-Booth.
There’s a long tradition of encouraging women to play and its Silver Rabbits project has just celebrated its 40th anniversary. It has introduced golf to countless women who are new to the sport, by arranging golfing buddies, lessons for beginners, social events and an annual Silver Rabbit Trophy Competition, open to 36 handicaps and above.
Brenda Gresty was one of the first to come through the Silver Rabbits scheme as a complete beginner in 1976 and has played for the teams and been Lady Captain. Now, aged over 80 she is still playing golf and bridge at the club.
Now, there’s a new generation, including Sophie, Freya and McKenzie, enjoying the sport –and keen to encourage more girls. What would they say to newcomers?
Freya: “Think of all the benefits you could gain from it. You get exercise from walking around, you get to meet new people and have a laugh and you get to have a new way of challenging yourself.”
McKenzie: “It is an enjoyable sport and you get to meet lots of new people.”
Sophie: “Try it! It’s a bit of fun. If you don’t like it then you have tried it. But I like it and it’s different, as many girls don’t play golf compared to boys and it’s starting to be more popular, so get on the trend now.”