Exactly a year on from Scotland’s staging of the Solheim Cup, Peebles Golf Club’s award-winning junior programme broke new ground on Sunday (September 13) with the girls outnumbering the boys for the first time at one of the club’s junior coaching sessions.
The Borders club has been doing its bit to build the support the legacy created by Catriona Matthew’s successful captaincy at Gleneagles and the game’s popularity among local girls has been going from strength to strength in recent years. No more so than Sunday, when 13 girls turned out for the Primary 5 to S1s coaching session, beating the number of boys by one. A further six girls were involved in the day’s earlier Primary 1 – 4 coaching group, with the club attracting more than 40 youngsters since coaching has been allowed to resume post-lockdown.
Girl power was also evident in the club’s most recent junior competition, with sixth-year pupil Ellie Martin beating the boys to clinch her first title of the season, reducing her handicap to 18 in the process.
David Thorburn, the club’s junior convenor, said: “We are delighted to see so many girls taking part in our junior coaching on a regular basis, with many now coming along for a number of years. Our aim is to make the coaching fun and inclusive, and the girls seem to enjoy the activities we put on, while playing as groups of friends. The proportion of female golfers in Scotland is very low at just 13%, so hopefully Peebles can help give those numbers a boost and keep our girls playing for years to come.
“We’ve had a few talented female golfers at the club most notably Ailsa Bain – now a PGA professional at Gullane – winning the Scottish Girls Championship in 2009 and it would be good to think we have a few more coming through the ranks, with some impressive swings on show at coaching. It’s great to see Ellie winning the junior medal and hopefully she can inspire some of the younger girls to progress into playing competitive golf.
“A few of our junior members attended The Solheim Cup at Gleneagles last September and were there to witness Suzanne Petterson’s winning putt and that’s definitely had a positive impact on the girls’ perception of golf.”
News of the girls golf success at Peebles went nationwide when BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty, herself a keen single-figure handicap golfer, retweeted the club’s tweet to her 225,000 followers, while well-known golf social media influencer and broadcaster ‘The Jazzy Golfer’ mentioned the achievement on her Instagram channel.
Overall junior membership at the club has been in excess of 100 for the past few years and Peebles was named Scotland’s Junior Club of the Year at the 2015 Scottish Golf Awards, a reward for its efforts in developing grass roots golf in the local community. The club has recruited 80 new members across all categories this year, and encouragingly the average age of a new adult member is just 32 years old.
The club’s profile has also been boosted by the recent performances on the European Tour from Craig Howie, the 26-year old who came through the ranks as a junior, having finished tied fourth in the recent ISPS Handa UK Championship at The Belfry, and following that result up with a top-25 finish at the Andalucia Masters, propelling him inside the top-120 of the Race to Dubai rankings.