The Lewis sisters sum up the job opportunities for women in golf – Rachel is the first female professional at St Andrews, while Georgia is just starting her career at the Vale Resort near Cardiff. They are a great example of the career opportunities in golf being highlighted as part of Women and Girls Week by Wales Golf, the R&A and around the Home Nations.
Both came through the Wales Golf ranks, representing their nation at international level, before turning professional and turning a hobby into a career.
“Even though we have lots of ladies who work with the St Andrews Links Trust, I am actually the first female PGA professional at the golf academy,” explained Rachel, talking on the range beside the Old Course.
“It’s amazing, sometimes I wake up and I don’t believe it. I come to work, I park in the same spot, I get to walk through the doors, I say hello to the guys who respond with some Welsh slang. I go into my office and think ‘Oh my gosh, look where I am.’ My window looks back over the Old Course and all the building over there, so it just amazing. Because I do something different every day, it keeps it exciting so it is not really work. It is more fun, a day out for me.”
While Rachel is a qualified PGA pro, having studied in America and then worked at the Vale Resort, Georgia only turned professional this summer and is at the start of her qualifying period – also at the Vale Resort.
“I have always been interested in coaching, my past coaches would always say I was interested in how technical they are, how they see things in different ways,” said Georgia, talking in the practice area at the Vale Resort.
“I have always been quite a technical golfer, working on positions rather than seeing where the golf ball goes. I am interested to see how my PGA turns out just to get a little more information on that.
“I am based here at the Vale Resort for the next three years, there are so many opportunities here in terms of coaching, it is great to see how those kids work their way up from the bottom and then end up at the top.
“I think that’s what coaching is about and what the PGA will teach me as well, as I get more advanced I can work my way from juniors to adults.”
Women and Girls Week shows the opportunities on offer for females to take up golf, but it is all a far cry from when the two sisters started playing.
“I was the only girl in my golf club, that was until my sister came along and then there was just the two of us,” explained Rachel. “Even as a junior I had to wait until my 10th birthday to join the club, now I take them from the age of two up so there are so many more opportunities.”
It’s a view backed up by Georgia. “I just wanted to do what my sister and my Dad were doing, bit if jealousy really, so I started when I was around 10. I got into the tournament stages then at 11, working your way up through county, Welsh squads and then turning pro.
“The really good thing about the Welsh squads is that they make sure you set your goals before tournaments, the winter phase, the summer phase, so it is a really good system.”
For Rachel, the opportunity to make golfing history as the first female PGA pro at St Andrews was too good an offer to turn down.
“I was doing my shopping in Tesco when I got a call asking if I would be interested in a job going up here,” she said. “The next week I came up because it is the Home of Golf, who wouldn’t want to come up, and I just fell in love with the place.
“My role is the academy operations, so I help with every day running, general enquiries and bookings. I also teach and through the winter I will be focusing a bit more on custom fittings and individual coaching sessions with all the technology we have here as well.
“A new thing we’re installing which is a massive part of my role is called the Trackman range. We are the first one in the UK to have this.
“Every driving range bay from the West side has got an I-pad in which collects all your ball data, so every time you hit a shot it shows how far it has gone, how high it has gone, how fast it has gone, so just trying to get people to be a bit more productive with their practice.”
Georgia was involved in promoting Women and Girls in the sport, through Wales Golf schemes, even before turning professional.
“I have done a few girls clinics at Pyle and Kenfig, it is great to see so many girls taking part in them,” she said. “Rachel has always been an inspiration. It is really nice to be able to go and have a round with your siblings, not a lot of people can do that, especially with different sports.
“You can talk about things on the golf course, you can’t do that with football or rugby because you have to run after the ball, so it’s nice to have a sister that plays alongside you.
“Now she’s up in Scotland it’s a little bit different, but I’m hoping to get up there in October just to have a quick view of St Andrews myself.”
The Lewis sisters are certainly an example of how golf is opening up as a sport where women can work and play.
Pictured above: Georgia Lewis at a Wales Golf Women and Girls clinic
Wales Golf http://www.walesgolf.org