The longest serving female golf club secretary/manager in Wales is delighted to have seen a sea-change in attitudes to women during her time in the job.
Sandra Thomas has been at Maesdu for 18 years, quickly taking over many of the manager duties before officially taking over the title a decade ago, with Wales Golf highlighting her story as part of Women and Girls Week.
Now she has helped steer the club through to attaining the R&A Women in Golf Charter in another step forward towards greater equality at the North Wales club.
Thomas has gone from being the only woman in the room at manager conferences, to seeing the progress of other women into the top jobs at clubs and at the governing body Wales Golf.
“I would recommend a career in golf to any woman,” said the 56-year-old. “It can be challenging, you have to be totally committed because it is not nine to five, but I enjoy working here.
“There were problems in the past, but years down the line the whole club have accepted me and we have clear policies in place so nothing is personal.”
The latest step forward for Maesdu is receiving the R&A Women in Golf Charter from Wales Golf chief executive Hannah McAllister, the 44th club in Wales to achieve the award made by golf’s governing body.
“It shows a change of mindset,” explained Thomas. “I am happy to say we are ticking the boxes quite quickly, making some immediate changes in terms of accessibility for women.
“Ladies Day has always been on a Tuesday so working women cannot play, so we are making a change there, adding more mixed competitions – giving women more say so they know it is not just a men’s golf club.
“We are committed to working with the local schools, we have our junior academy, we run New2Golf and our own intermediate scheme which gives people a three-year membership, with lessons, to develop.
“The ladies section has grown, the current members are even more welcoming and there are several who have signed up to play with new members and introduce them into the club.”
Achieving the Charter standard is one of the ways in which Maesdu has improved on and off the course since Thomas took over in a man’s world.
“My story is that I joined as an office assistant 18 years ago, the secretary wanted to retire but all the people they interviewed for the role wanted more money than the club could afford,” she explained.
“I took on some extra responsibilities, went on some courses, and then around 2011/12 I took over the role fully when the previous secretary retired.
“I’m probably the longest serving female golf club manager in Wales, certainly when I started then for many years I was the only women in the room at Wales Golf seminars.
“When I went on a Golf Club Managers course five years ago there were two women, myself and Emily Dench from Cradoc.
“It is very much a male industry, but that is changing. I feel my opinions are taken on board more than they were in years gone by, for instance.
“Looking at the number of women on the staff at Wales Golf is part of that change, it is good to see everyone can accept the modern world now.
“I have a really good relationship with our members in what has always been a male role in the past.
“It is very different to the situation 18 years ago. I may have come into the role a little by accident at first, but this golf club is in a good place both on and off the course and our management style is very transparent for the members.”
Thomas may have been a trailblazer 18 years ago, but she is very happy that women in positions such as hers are becoming much more normal.