We spoke to Lady Captain at South Staffordshire Golf Club, Denny Aston, about what inspires her to play golf and the popularity of ladies gold in Staffordshire
What’s the best thing about playing golf?
I think it would be different things for different people! But overall for me it’s a combination of things – firstly, it’s a challenge to learn and get a handicap, it’s sociable – it has given me a whole new set of friends. It’s healthy and gets you outside, some days you can look out the window and think “I’ll stay in bed!” – but once on the golf course you realise it’s not so bad after all. Obviously you get some great exercise too! Finally, it’s rewarding – when you hit that good shot or have that good round it’s a very satisfying experience!
Why should more women play golf?
I would say, why shouldn’t they? It would be true to say that historically golf has often been thought of as a man’s game – but for quite a while many women have got into the game and really enjoyed it. Apart from the benefits I have already highlighted, golf clubs have ladies sections to organise competitions and games for their female members. Additionally, since the equality act of 2010, golf clubs offer the opportunity for ladies to play much more than before this act was introduced. For example, at South Staffs Golf Club we have tee times on a Saturday set aside for ladies who wish to play to ensure fair access to the course and there are competitions on some of these Saturdays to accommodate working ladies who may not be able to play on a Tuesday which is our designated competition day. Additionally, for business ladies it’s a great opportunity to forge relationships and for corporate hospitality opportunities
Who can play golf?
Anyone who would like to try it, but it does take up a little more time than say a visit to the gym or a game of tennis! It’s not elitist, we welcome ladies who can already play as well as total beginners. Last year we introduced our new Academy membership and a Mentoring programme. The Academy membership is aimed at people who have never played before or people who are returning to golf after a long break. With the additional benefit of having a lady Professional, Lisa Shervill, who has played on the European tour, we feel we are serious in encouraging everyone into golf from young juniors to retiring people who have saved golf for later life! The Academy membership includes lessons and a grounding in the etiquette of the game. People can then decide if they wish to progress to full membership and obtain a handicap. Our Mentoring programme means that any new members who join South Staffs have a point of contact to help them integrate into the club and become familiar with how we do things.
What are the highlights of South Staffordshire ladies golf?
We are very proud of our course – and for ladies we have the benefit of 5 par 5 holes which I believe makes us unique in Staffordshire. This is very appealing to lady players but does not mean the course is easy for those who hold a low handicap! Also South Staffs is renowned for fast greens giving an additional challenge. Our highlight last year was that we hosted the England Golf Ladies Senior Amateur Championships and it was a real honour and privilege to be chosen for this event. As a County, Staffordshire has some very lovely courses to play and the County organises competitions for golfers of all levels and tries to promote a community spirit between clubs.
Can you explain a little about the reasons behind the popularity of ladies golf?
England Golf have been instrumental in promoting ladies golf over the last few years. They have a programme to encourage young girls to get into the game – “This Girl Golfs” and I believe this has helped ladies of all levels to consider golf. We have many members who have played other sports and then come to golf in later life as this is a sport you can continue playing into your dotage! Many clubs, including ours, are very keen to recruit new Lady members and are offering attractive incentives for ladies to join them.
Do you have any tips for women starting out in golf?
The main tips I would give would be give it time and don’t be too hard on yourself if you find it a little challenging at first – that is one of the attractions of the game! I would always suggest a beginner takes lessons on a driving range with a professional and not just try to get out on a course and play. That can be soul destroying! A series of lessons and some practice in between will pay off. If you can do it with a friend, it becomes fun and sociable too and gives you someone to practice with.
Look around for a half set of second hand clubs and make sure golf is going to be for you before investing in a full set of new clubs. Once you can hit the ball, that’s the time to upgrade any equipment. Our Club will help you there.
Of course, the best tip I can give anyone who lives near our club is to come and find out about our Academy membership or book some lessons on the range with Lisa!
Find out more about South Staffordshire Gold Club
Keep reading: 5 healthy benefits of playing golf