An initiative by two PGA Professionals at Elsham Golf Club, Lincolnshire, to encourage girls to get into golf has resulted in the pair receiving a prestigious award from The Golf Foundation. David McNicholas, the head pro, and Dane Duffin, have given more than 400 girls at three local secondary schools a taste of the sport since they launched their This Girl Golfs project a year ago.
As a result they are the latest winners of the Golf Foundation’s Laddie Lucas Award which celebrates a project that has created more opportunities for girls to get into golf. They received the award from Golf Foundation president Sandy Jones during the charity’s annual presentation ceremony on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Announcing their success, Golf Foundation chief executive Brendon Pyle said: “This year’s winner is a partnership between Elsham Golf Club and ‘This Girl Golfs’ Project in North Lincolnshire. Elsham is the host club linking to three local secondary schools, with taster sessions provided to 400 girls, followed by a six-week StreetGolf satellite club. Sixty-four girls signed up and 51 completed the course; the grand finale being when the golf club closed its course for a day and ran the first ever ‘Girls Open’. Some 42 girls took part in a GolfSixes team competition and the women’s section provided volunteers.
“Fifteen of the girls joined the new Girls Academy, while eight have become junior members. There has been a cultural change at the golf club with more events and competitions open to girls and women.”
McNicholas and Duffin arrived at the club in July 2016 after working together at nearby Normanby Hall Golf Club. They found Elsham to be a traditional golf club but open to change, especially as a new general manager had started a couple of months before them.
“The arrival of a forward-thinking young manager followed by us and the club’s willingness to change created a perfect storm,” said Duffin.
“We really wanted to make a difference, to show there were lots of different ways of driving membership such as getting younger people into golf,” added McNicholas. “One of our main objectives was to build strong links with the local community. From a professional point of view, our objective was to heighten the profile of the club within the community.”
Both men are surprised the project has taken off so quickly and Duffin admitted: “We didn’t expect it to go this far. We expected it to grow so much and then move on into this year.
“Our GolfSixes team comprises 60 per cent girls directly from the work we’ve done in the schools. It’s an amazing achievement and I think we’ve set a standard for ourselves now.”
Paying tribute to the Golf Foundation and the club, McNicholas added: “The support of the Golf Foundation and the club has been fantastic. It’s given us the confidence to go into the local community and helped us get the project up and running. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”
Elsham Golf Club https://www.elshamgolfclub.co.uk/
Golf Foundation http://www.golf-foundation.org