Sarah predicts rise in golfing girls

GOLF professional Sarah Wilson is confident of seeing even more girls taking up the game in Suffolk after a dramatic rise in numbers over recent years.

Stuart Watson

GOLF professional Sarah Wilson is confident of seeing even more girls taking up the game in Suffolk after a dramatic rise in numbers over recent years.

When Wilson - one of just two female professionals in the county - first started a junior girls' squad alongside Jane Bell four years ago it began with just four members.

However, since then numbers have boomed to the point where over 80 girls are registered with the squad that trains once a month at Bramford Golf Club.

Keen to capitalise on the growing female interest in the game, Wilson organised a 'girls in golf' day recently where girls could enjoy a free taster session at one of ten clubs across the county.

With an increased interest following a presence at the Suffolk Show, the day proved a huge success.

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In addition to the various club professionals leading the sessions, the current crop of Suffolk girls' squad members were present at virtually every venue to lend a helping hand.

“Some of the girls turned up with clubs and we wondered whether they had already played the game, but it turned out that most of them had borrowed them off of their brothers,” said Wilson.

“It was great to have some of the current girls in the squad there helping. You could see them giving the new girls instructions and feeling very important.

“But you could also see the new girls thinking, well if these girls, who are not that much older than me, can do it, so can I.

“I think it also made the older ones even more hungry to stay on top of their game because they could see that there was going to be even more competition for them coming through.”

Wilson added: “I think it was very important that there was a female presence there (Stoke-By-Nayland assistant professional Sarah Graves also leading a session) because they are the ones that the girls can identify with.

“When children first come into a sport at a young age they have no perception of whether it is a boys or girls sport, so it is up to the people that are already in the business to put across that golf is a sport that girls can play too.

“When I was younger there wasn't really any specific sessions for girls when it came to golf and that is why I am doing this.

“I first got into the sport simply because my brother was playing and I always wanted to beat him at whatever he did!”

Bramford Golf Club may have as many girls as it has boys on its membership, but Wilson is now hoping that such a trend will continue across the county's clubs.

The ultimate aim is that there will eventually be enough girls at each of the county's clubs to organise junior female inter-club competitions.

In the meantime the Suffolk girls' squad - which currently contains one of the country's most exciting female prospects in 14 year-old Heidi Baek - will continue to grow.

The squad - which is a supplement to club coaching - is currently split into three ability groups through which girls can progress up through as they improve.

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