One of England’s oldest golf clubs will shrug off 123 years of tradition next week when women are appointed to all its key positions.
The Royal Norwich Golf Club in Norfolk will give a champagne welcome to new club captain Angela Loveday and club president Cherry Bishop, who will be supported by junior captain Jasmine Campbell and ladies’ captain Janet Clare.
The historic drive-in, on Saturday 19 March, will be attended by all four and by England Golf President-Elect Marian Rae.
Royal Norwich is actively involved in attracting more women and girls into golf and supports England Golf initiatives to grow the game.
Lauren Spray, the England Golf Women and Girls’ Participation Manager, commented: “This is very good news which helps to break down barriers and dispel perceptions about the game. Golf is a friendly, welcoming sport and a game for all. Congratulations to Royal Norwich and its officials.”
General Manager Phil Grice said: “We have appointed the best people for these roles, regardless of sex, and it is a shame in some respect that this is considered ground breaking.
“We hope that other clubs, whilst respecting their heritage, also look forward with an open mind in terms of equality and developing our sport.”
Angela Loveday, who has been a member of Royal Norwich for almost 14 years, will be the first woman club captain in Norfolk, but her appointment will be quickly followed by at least two other county clubs which have women vice captains.
“It’s the beginning of a wave,” said Angela. “The golf environment is changing so rapidly and these roles are becoming genderless, open to anyone on their merit.”
She went on: “Young people of both genders come together socially and in sport much more comfortably than they did in previous years. I applaud this and would like to develop this across our golf club.
“The inclusivity of family friendly golf with ladies, gents, mothers and fathers, grandparents and children having a good time together is part of our vision for the future.”
She has been on the club’s general committee for eight years, holding key roles including close involvement in the club’s planned relocation within the county. She has also held posts within the ladies’ section and on the county handicapping committee. Angela is a Level 1 coach and has helped the club professional with junior activities.
Incoming president Cherry Bishop has been a club member for 24 years and also holds a key role in the relocation project. She has been ladies’ secretary and captain.
Junior captain Jasmine Campbell, who plays off four, has been the Norfolk girls’ champion for the last two years and is a past winner of the Abraham Trophy, which is awarded to England’s most improved girl golfer. She is a four handicapper.
Janet Clare has been a member at Royal Norwich for about 40 years and is taking on her second term as ladies’ captain. She has also been ladies’ president and the Norfolk county second team captain.
The Royal Norwich is one of four Norfolk clubs taking part in Girls Golf Rocks, a project run by England Golf and the Golf Foundation to introduce new girls to the game. The beginners are mentored by county squad players who act as ambassadors to spread the message that golf is a fun and friendly sport.
The club also runs a junior scholarship programme where 30 per cent of the members are girls. The programme is part of an overall strategy to grow the club’s female membership and has produced players including Hope Neild, a member of the winning team at the English schools’ team championship, and county girl player Chloe Gibbs.
The club has also been involved in Get into golf, the England Golf campaign which offers great value coaching to inspire more adults to take up golf and play more often. Over 40 per cent of Get into golf participants are women.
England Golf supports clubs to grow their women and girls’ membership and resources include a range of factsheets covering topics including recruitment and retention. Click here for more details
England Golf www.englandgolf.org
The Royal Norwich Golf Club http://www.royalnorwichgolfclub.co.uk