Being the golf professional who likes to say Yes has helped Gower’s Nicola Stroud become the first female winner of the Golf Development Wales PGA Professional of the Year Award.
She was presented with the Golf Union of Wales award by deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism Ken Skates AM in a glittering ceremony at Ryder Cup Venue Celtic Manor, an event sponsored by golf club membership finance company Future Financials.
Stroud was rewarded for her work with disadvantaged children, boosting women’s golf and also her work with golfers with disability, in a year when she was also on the shortlist of the three for the Wales Sports Awards and earned her advanced PGA qualification.
“Things started to change for me when I saw the film Yes Man, about someone who starts to say Yes to every request he received. I decided to do something similar and start saying Yes to all the opportunities that came my way,” said Stroud.
“That meant taking golf to some unusual places, but that has become really important. It has been a good year, you do not think of doing these things to win awards but after being a golf pro for 20 odd years I am now doing what I want to do that can give back.”
The list of everything being achieved by Stroud in the Swansea area is pretty impressive. She has been a key part in driving the business support scheme at the club, in partnership with the Golf Foundation she has deliver Golf Roots and Golf Roots plus programmes, as well as Golf Development Wales New2Golf scheme and disability golf sessions.
She has also worked with children from disadvantaged areas, in conjunction with South Wales Police
“There are a number of things that have given me satisfaction – for instance we have a thriving junior section now when there were no kids when I started, they are still very young and the members are fantastic,” she said.
“The improvements in ladies golf at the club is also great. I know how good golf can be for families, physical and mental health, and I am talking to the local authority about having NHS referrals for mental issues, cancer recovery and so on.
“I do a lot with Macmillan cancer recovery roadshows. Golf can be a great sport if you are recovering from something like that, or if you have low esteem, are a new widow or whatever. My Grandad is aged 97 and still plays, he can play with my niece who is 10.
“A lot of golf clubs are struggling, but I think concentrating on families is the way to go forward because the sport can be played by people with such a big age gap if we can make it comfortable for people to come.
“A lot of golf clubs are still stuffy, but that is not actually a reflection on what the members want them to be. Clubs have to think outside the box and a lot of them are starting to do so.
“Hopefully I can inspire some other clubs, some pros and other people in the golf world, to take golf out to the community – for instance going to all the local fetes and carnivals, because that is where the families are so it is better than going into schools.
“I am most proud of work with new women members and of course then you also get families and husbands joining so it is having a positive effect all round.”
Stroud is the first female winner of this award, which she feels is a sign of how golf is slowly changing from the old male-dominated image.
“When I have been trying to go to a new golf club as a new professional then more-often-than-not one of the people interviewing me has said they are not sure their members will want a female golf pro,” she said.
“I have even got that in the last couple of years and that is crazy, it should be on merit and it is a shame. It is things like the Home of Golf (The Royal and Ancient club at St Andrew’s) only admitting women members last year when it should have happened years ago, but at least things are changing.”
Ryder Cup star Jamie Donaldson was the Golf Union of Wales Touring Professional of the Year, Tenby were the Club of the Year, Welsh champion Evan Griffiths of North Wales the Amateur Player of the Year, and Pwllheli and Caernarfonshire junior organiser Grace Roberts the Volunteer of the Year.
Golf Union of Wales www.golfunionwales.org
Golf Development Wales www.golfdevelopmentwales.org
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