Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey is at the forefront of a global drive to increase the number of women and girls participating in golf.
The world-renowned club, which has hosted numerous international tournaments, including the Ryder Cup, will become the first in Surrey to sign up for the ‘Women in Golf Charter’ which was unveiled recently by the R&A.
Walton Heath has embraced the governing body’s initiative enthusiastically and is aiming to develop a range of initiatives designed to encourage more women and girls to play golf and stay within the sports as members of clubs.
In adopting the Charter, Walton Heath has implemented a three-year rolling strategic plan to increase membership, develop women’s, girls and family golf while also encouraging more women to become closely involved in the administrative elements of the club.
Walton Heath’s Lady Captain Alison Taylor, and Kate Hill, who sits on the club’s general committee, are leading the drive which they believe can bring in new players of all age groups who will be supported and encouraged as their game develops.
Mrs Taylor explained: “We would love to inspire a new generation of women and girl golfers to enjoy the benefits of golf as a wonderful leisure activity for all the family. To this end, the R&A Charter will help women and girls to prosper and maximise their potential at all levels of the sport.”
She added: “In July 2016 we began a ladies academy to introduce new players to golf with the hope that they might join the club in future. We started with a maximum of 20 golfers on a three-year programme, which involved mentoring the new players, providing individual and group coaching as well as on-course lessons.
Mrs Hill explained: ‘’Among the seven core commitments which form the basis of the Walton Heath Charter is a desire to increase the ladies section to a minimum of 120 playing members. On January 1 this year we had 94 members and that figure has now jumped to 105, which is a very significant increase. We are delighted that nine ladies from the academy have transferred to full membership this year, along with four others who have joined independently from local clubs. Until recently, we were averaging just one new member a year, so this is an extremely positive step.”
As part of the action plan, Walton Heath is keen to further develop a range of golf and social activities to appeal to the ladies membership and a strong commitment to a calendar of events for family golf. The first of those family competitions recently attracted 32 players comprising men, women, boys and girls.
Mrs Taylor concluded: “We are proud to be the first club in Surrey to adopt the R&A Charter and to pledge our commitment to supporting the continued growth of women and girls golf.”
Walton Heath chairman Dr Alastair Wells endorsed the club’s decision to adopt the R&A Charter, saying: “Golf is a sport to be played and enjoyed by everyone, male and female, young and old. We believe that by signing up to the ‘Women in Golf’ Charter’, our ladies and girls’ sections will continue to grow and flourish. We are all proud to be associated with this tremendous initiative.”