Erin is flying for Felixstowe after GolfSixes LeagueCan GolfSixes League draw more young people into golf clubs and create a great team spirit for youngsters and families within the club? The answer has been an emphatic “Yes!”
(Pictured: Erin was the proud winner of the Jean Cross Cup)
Last year saw an average 35% increase in junior members at the 233 clubs taking part in the Golf Foundation’s GolfSixes League across three Home Nations (49% in England). And here is one of them! Meet Erin Woolnough, who debuted for Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club in the Suffolk GolfSixes League at the age of 12 in 2019.
Following this early interest she soon achieved her first handicap of 31. Fast forward and this season Erin won the Felixstowe Ferry nine-hole Kingsfleet Course Junior Championship with 20 points. Erin then went on to win the Jean Cross Cup with the best Nett score in the Ladies’ 36-hole Club Championship on the Championship Martello Course, returning scores of 99 – 30 – 69 and 101 – 30 – 71.
From the early fun and confidence boost of GolfSixes League, there is no stopping Erin’s gradual improvement. Erin recently won the club Family Foursomes competition playing with her father, David, scoring 46 points. She has now been selected for the Suffolk Girls coaching squad and her handicap has been reduced to 28. (Suffolk Junior Golf has been highly supportive of GolfSixes League.)
What Erin thinks of GolfSixes League
Erin’s own view on GolfSixes League is highly positive. She said that “the main course at Felixstowe seemed quite scary” to her as a new player but GolfSixes League took away the pressure. Erin said: “The junior set-up at Felixstowe is amazing, very welcoming and fun; we learn with a smile on all our faces. GolfSixes League gave me so much confidence to trust my shot and to not worry about anything. Six holes, paired with a fellow junior against others who enjoy the game just as much as me; it’s wonderful. I have met lots of friends as a result of it.”
Erin added: “I really love the fact that you get the chance to play different courses with different fellow golfers, and the Texas Scramble format gives you the confidence in knowing you and your partner both have a shot/chance. If your partner hits an amazing shot then you can tell yourself to just go for it – why not! Or, sometimes it causes you to really focus on technique and trust the shot if it’s down to you.
“With the parents walking around, everyone is there for the same reason. It’s a brilliant feeling when you hit a good shot or hole a putt, and the families walking with you all clap or cheer; I love it! It’s a wonderful supportive way for anyone to get into ‘competitive’ golf.”
A proud parent and a welcoming golf club
Erin’s father David said: “The PGA Professionals and members at Felixstowe have established an unbelievable junior system and made GolfSixes League a fun opportunity to play the game in a format that Erin and others like her loved. Through GolfSixes League she has learnt so much about the game, not just playing, but etiquette, rules, scoring and above all, how much fun it is.
“It has introduced her to others in the game that led her to being invited along to a Suffolk Girls coaching session and she is now aiming to be part of that setup in the future. GolfSixes League gave her confidence to trust her game and accept when things didn’t quite go to plan; to take the game one shot at a time and to remain in control – this is perhaps her biggest strength and I know GolfSixes League and the junior setup at Felixstowe have been instrumental in this.”
David added: “We are blessed at Felixstowe. Our PGA Pro Andrew Robinson and his Assistant Sam Forgan make themselves and the game fully accessible, and do so with fun at the very centre. Our junior committee and the Men’s, Ladies’ and Junior Captains all make the effort to come and support the juniors, and our passing Ladies’ Captain Anne Fosker was instrumental in Erin being able to sign up and compete in the ladies’ medals and competitions at the age of 13. The welcome that she has had from our ladies members has been amazing, and she is just as well supported across the men’s members too.
“I hope the GolfSixes League format continues for many years and helps more children, like Erin, to come to love the game of golf as much as she does.”
Looking ahead positively
The Golf Foundation, working with its major supporter The R&A, and England Golf, Scottish Golf, Wales Golf and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland, has reassured all GolfSixes League 2020 registered golf clubs that the full inter-club GolfSixes League, featuring 98 leagues and more than 400 clubs, will be back in 2021, when safe to launch.
While the GolfSixes League was hit by the Covid-19 crisis this summer, the Golf Foundation encouraged a number of clubs to enjoy the format in the safety of their own club venue in recent times where possible. Some 168 clubs across UK and Ireland delivered the ‘Intra-club’ version (from a survey we found an average of 22 players at each club taking part), which we believe was a fantastic achievement by these club at this very challenging time.