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February 17, 2022

Girls Leadership Panel offers a ‘voice and a choice’ to help the game

Some exciting golf thinkers can help shape the future of the game for girl and women players, while encouraging more girls onto the fairways this season.

The fact that these young leaders are also preparing for exams in school, college and university speaks volumes for their attitude towards volunteering in their favourite sport – while underlining how important it is for the Golf Foundation team to give girls a strong voice in the game.

Last year, the Golf Foundation developed the National Girls Leadership Programme as part of the girls’ retention scheme we ran with a selection of golf clubs in different regions.

The Leadership Programme saw a group of girls and young women aged 13-22 receive advice and learnings which could set them on the path to become leaders in golf, sport, or in wider life. A strong cross-section of influential golf people – including Sky Sports presenter Inci Mehmet, Golf Foundation Ambassador and PGA Trainee Professional Nicola Bennett, and Fame Tate, former Ladies’ European Tour player, now owner of Stanedge Golf Club – fronted a series of presentations under the theme of ‘If you can’t see her, you can’t be her’.

This inspired many of the girls taking part and seven who successfully completed this training joined together to form the first ‘Girls Leadership Panel’ back in the autumn. It is expected this group will meet four times a year (usually ‘virtually’) and will be something of a ‘two-way street’, with the panel members bringing their unique insights of what girls and young people want from the sport to help shape Golf Foundation programmes and initiatives.

In turn, the Golf Foundation team – again drawing on industry experts – can offer further leadership knowledge and build confidence in the girls which they can use in their personal development.

Stacey McNicholas, who leads on girls’ golf for the Golf Foundation, said: “This is a great opportunity to give girls a voice and a choice, the chance for young aspiring female leaders to gain hands-on experience and to feed back on the key challenges and barriers of our sport so that we – as an organisation and the wider industry – can ensure these are being addressed.

“Importantly, we are utilising the Girls Leadership Panel to take an active role in delivering on the ground; whether this is supporting a girls’ recruitment programme or aiding positive cultural change locally – this is about girls taking a lead in our sport and driving girls’ development forwards.”

It is expected that the Panel’s objectives will fit well in the broader girls’ golf recruitment and retention work of the Golf Foundation, as the charity continues to meet its pledges as a signatory of The R&A Women in Golf Charter.

The objectives of the Panel seek to:

  •  increase recruitment of younger girls into golf;
  •  increase the retention of teenage girls and keep them playing the game;
  •  change the perception towards girls among members at golf clubs;
  •  change the perception of golf amongst young people.

The Panel will be meeting again soon to take a lead in developing the new National Girls Leadership Programme for 2022. Their feedback will be used to help shape the next course being delivered and Panel members will take an active role as facilitators to support and inspire our next cohort of Girl Leaders. Up to 15 delegates will be selected from applications, with selections being made on the basis of their desire to build on the skills, experience and learning to help others to thrive through golf at golf club level.

Golf Foundation Ambassador and LET player Felicity Johnson has generously put her name forward to help in this training, and other golf industry figures are currently being approached to lend their knowledge and expertise.

Stacey added: “Setting up their support of the Leadership Programme for 2022, this will be a creative, organisational process for our Panel of seven girls, but we believe they have the skills and enthusiasm to make this work well, while not being afraid to draw on our team to ensure that great collaboration can ensure a fantastic project for all the new girls signing up this season.”

The National Girls Leadership Programme forms part of the Golf Foundation’s collaboration with England Golf on the new ‘Junior Golf Strategy’ which has been developed from England Golf’s ‘Course Planner 2021-25’.

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If you have read this article and it has struck a chord with your golf development, why not get in touch with the Golf Foundation’s Regional Development team. Places on the Leadership Programme for 2022 are limited but we want to hear more voices from young leaders and volunteers to support girls’ golf!

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