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Golf Awareness Month: Meet PGA Professional Katy Edwards
21 May

Golf Awareness Month was created to encourage people who may not think they would like golf to give it a try and benefit from all this sport has to offer. The best way to celebrate Golf Month is to get out and play some golf! If you’re someone who already plays golf, maybe try getting some friends or family members who have never tried to join you for a few hours on the course. And if you’ve never tried, it’s the perfect time to start!

About Katy Edwards

We are very proud to have Katy Edwards as part of our golf team.  As a Professional Golfer, she is very keen to get more women into the game and to help break down the stereotypes that surround the sport. Katy has many fantastic accreditations to her name - she was the first lady to tee off in the WPGA Lombard Trophy in Portugal and even achieved her first professional hole in one in the tournament.  She regularly competes in WPGA (Women’s Professional Golf Association) events in the UK and teaches golf skills to a wide range of pupils starting aged 3 plus. How did you get into golf?

I started to play golf with my brother Jamie, aged fifteen.  He is a big football fan and he wanted to learn how to play as he knew his idols spent their spare time on the golf course.  We started at Herefordshire Golf Club (where I grew up), and at the time they had the biggest junior section in the area.  Also, there were three other girls the same age as me so we all became friendly and encouraged each other.  Do not tell my brother, but I am now better than him – and get to play with more sports stars…

What do you love about the game?

It has given me the opportunity to meet so many interesting people, as well as make some great friends.  I love the social side, and of course the competitive aspect.  To me it is a game where can take a few hours out for yourself one day, or enjoy the comradery of playing in a team the following day, to a professional championship the next. 

What made you want to turn professional?

In my early twenties, I was at a point in my career path where I needed to decide what I wanted to do.  The Pro at my golf course encouraged me to think about turning professional, especially as my handicap and performance ability was in my favour.  Also at the time, female Pro’s were very few and far between so I thought would be a great platform for me.  In my first professional event, there were only 15 female players, however at the same event last year there were 45 – which is great for the sport. I have played in tournaments where I have been the only female, which for some could be intimidating, but for me I see this as an opportunity rather than threat. 

Has golf given you the opportunity to travel?

Over the years I have been lucky enough to travel, including playing some of world renowned courses and been able to see so many countries that I would have been able to otherwise.  In 2016 I played a tournament in Portugal, and was the first lady to tee off in the WPGA Lombard Trophy Final.  I also had my first professional hole in one at the event. 

Katy making history by being the first lady to tee off at the WPGA Lombard Trophy Final

Golf has a reputation of being inaccessible, and it feels out of reach.  What are your thoughts on that?

It can be intimidating to start.  When you start to play golf you do need to be with someone who knows what they are doing, or to have coaching with a Pro.  The stereotype is that you need to be a business man or be retired to play, which is not the case.  It is also seen as a very expensive sport too, however research has shown that over time it is similarly costed to other sports like netball, rugby and football.  Their outlay is spread out, however golf membership fees and buying clubs tend to be as a lump sum cost.

What barriers do you commonly encounter when it comes to encouraging women to try golf?

The biggest barrier is just getting started.  Some women can put up their own barriers and convince themselves that they don’t have any hand-eye coordination – if this was true you would struggle to do basic things like eating and drinking.  It does not take long to gain confidence in hitting the golf ball.

Ladies have said to me before even walking through the door, they worried about where to park, would a member approach them and start questioning them, would the golf team be friendly, would they be welcome? Of course once they are through the door, these worries are quickly forgotten.

Another is worry is time.  With busy lifestyles you often hear people say that they cannot spend hours away from home.  You do not have to play a full course, it could be crazy golf at the beach, time at the driving range or learning skills in a golf simulator.  

Have you ever felt disadvantaged or discriminated against because of your gender?

My male friends, colleagues and students have no problem with me joining them on the golf course and do not feel disadvantaged if I am in a team with them.  There are still some male only clubs, which in my opinion are outdated.  However, there are plenty of other options out there where women will be more than welcome. 

I do however shock people at times, especially those who do not know what I do for my profession.  When out and about, it is often a good conversation starter.  When I say I work at Bryn Meadows, it is automatically assumed that I’m working in the office with the events team or in the restaurant.  I have even experienced it within the club house, when I have been asked if ‘The Pro’ is free for a chat or ‘can someone re-grip my clubs’.  I’ve also been asked if I play golf!  Generally I let my sense of humour take over, and answer with a witty reply.  I find this a good way of building a rapport and an ongoing relationship.

How do you think we can encourage more junior girls or women to start playing?

Togetherness is more important than ever in golf.  At Bryn Meadows we are really trying to put the emphasis on ‘golf is about family’ aspect, and our junior academy course, First Swing, is testament to this.  It has become Wales’ largest junior academy, which has produced some star players in the making. 

For ladies after a working week or keeping the household, spending four hours on the golf course cannot always be justified, so it becomes about fitness and health.  Golf is a moderate aerobic activity and therefore could be expected to have the same beneficial effects on physical health, mental health and general wellness.  Of course to maximise health benefits, golfers should walk the course and carry their bag rather than using the golf buggies or motorised trolleys.  The walk on our golf course takes on average three and a half hours to four hours, so this means you can burn 1,500 calories and do about 10,000 steps which is about 4-5 miles.

Throughout the year we host junior and family nights in Winners Bar.  Families are also encouraged to play together on our academy course, First Swing, or on our golf simulator.

A lady teeing off on the first tee at Bryn Meadows

What advice do you have for aspiring female golfers?

Don’t knock it until you have tried it!  It is never too late to start, or challenge your perceptions of the game.  Do not let age, your gender or any existing injuries put you off.  Find a local session where you can interact with other beginner ladies or girls groups to help build your confidence initially.  Your local council will be able to assist you in finding your local session.  It is important to find a club where you feel comfortable, perhaps where you can build comradery with other beginners and the established members.  This allows you to feel like part of the golfing community. 

Recently the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) has enforced a stricter dress code on women golfers, what is your thoughts on this?

The LPGA have said that women wearing racerback tops, short skirts, leggings etc will be fined.  I do not think it is wrong to have a dress code, like most sports, however we are feminine and should be able to dress as we wish.  There needs to be a balance between tradition and current trends.  Being too old fashioned or strict can put off the younger generation of members trying to come through. 

You do a lot of junior coaching and individual adult lessons, which do you prefer?

In a coaching setting, personal knowledge, experience and working on your own game is key. To beginners we teach etiquette and rules, but with improvers it tends to be technique.  I want them to feel as comfortable as I can.  I usually hand them a golf club and let them have a go, you would be surprised at how many beginner golfers have a natural flair for the game without any coaching.  After a few practice swings I will guide and help them from there. 

Junior sessions tend to be about what fun they are going to have in that session, where as adults tend to ask more questions about their technique and how they are improving.  I enjoy the variety of coaching different ages and abilities, and take real pride when you can see that person making an improvement.  I currently have 30 tots learning through stories every week, these are aged 3-5.  These sessions can be quite intensive initially, as I need eyes in the back of my head.  I have to teach them the basics – repeatedly – but once they’ve been to a few sessions they know what they are doing and tell me what games they like to play, which shows me they are improving and enjoying themselves.    

Tots Golf (3-5 year olds) held in the Putting Studio at Bryn Meadows

Ladies Golf at Bryn Meadows

Ladies and girls are more than welcome at Bryn Meadows, and we actively encourage more to get involved and enjoy the game.  On average in the UK female members only make up 15% of a golf club membership, yet women account for just over 50% of the population (according to latest statistics).  

Golf is a game for all.  Unlike any other sport, golf’s unique handicap system allows people of different abilities to play and compete together, making it a great game for women and men alike.  Contrary to popular belief, women have always played golf. In-fact The LPGA Tour (Ladies Professional Golf Association) is older than the PGA Tour.

To encourage more ladies to try golf, the first group lesson or coaching is free of charge at Bryn Meadows. 

WPGA (Women’s Professional Golf Association)

It was founded in 1899 and is one of the oldest amateur golf associations.  It originally started with five members and now has over 125 clubs and nearly 34,000 golfers registered.  They look after championships, handicapping and course rating.  As well as supporting members, there is a scholarship fund to provide tuition and educational programs.

Their mission statement is: To advance the interests and spirit of the game of golf and to encourage a spirit of harmony and cooperation among golf clubs and other related associations. Primary activities include the administration of the USGA Handicap System™, educational programs for members and club employees, the sharing of information and the conduct of championships.

The LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association)

The LPGA is an American organisation and is one of the longest running women’s professional sports associations in the world.  It was founded in 1950 as a playing tour but has since turned into a not for profit, and is involved in every facet of golf including focus on charity, and junior and women’s programmes.

The first tee on the Championship course at Bryn Meadows

Funding

Golf’s governing body, Wales Golf, has agreed a funding package of £75,000 for Wales over the next three years to attract more women and girls to the game.  The scheme will encourage more women, girls and families to play golf more regularly across Wales, and go on to become members of golf clubs.

Duncan Weir, Executive Director for Golf Development at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, said, “Women and girls continue to be an under-represented group throughout golf across the world and more work needs to be done to attract more of them into the sport at a time when we need to boost participation levels. 

We believe there is a real opportunity, working with our affiliates, to develop inclusive and inspiring participation initiatives which show that golf is fun and enjoyable leisure activity that can provide many social and health benefits for women and families.”

To encourage more ladies to try golf, the first group lesson or coaching is free of charge at Bryn Meadows. 

Health Benefits

There is nothing like getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine!  As well as being mentally stimulating, golf can also be physically challenging.  Any form of physical exercise that helps get the blood pumping to your heart is good for you.  Walking and carrying your bag, and swinging the club all increase the heart rate and blood flow.  Regular daily walking strengthens the brain’s memory circuits. 

Playing golf can also reduce stress and improve sleep quality.  Walking in fresh air and the additional mental challenge can help release endorphins, the natural mood enhancing chemical, which makes you feel happy and relaxed.  Regular exercise helps you get to sleep faster and remain in a deep sleep for longer. 

Golf is a low impact activity meaning that older players or those with pre-existing injuries can exercise and burn calories with a low risk of injury.  So wherever possible, golfers should say no to the golf buggy or motorised caddy, and play on foot to reap the health benefit rewards.

The 19th hole is also seen as a great health benefit to some.  This is a chance to relax with other golfers, where you can debrief on your game or coaching session.  Plus for some, a glass of wine or pint of choice with a snack is a great way to finish the day. 

Katy Edwards practicing on the golf simulator

Career Benefits

They say a lot of business is done on the golf course, so why should women miss out on that?!  Playing can also boost your career as golf is all about networking.  You can meet new clients, spend time with your peers and develop your business.  

Going to golf events and playing in tournaments or charity days is a great way to meet new people and be introduced to different businesses.  It makes a great impression too, as golfers are predominately male.  It is also very social, a fun activity to do with friends and even make new acquaintances.

Previously, Golf for Non Golfer events have been held at Bryn Meadows.  The event was created by a local business man who would get multiple invites throughout the year asking him to take part in various golf days.  However, not having played before, was unsure how he would be perceived by others on golf course.  The event was designed to overcome those initial nerves, and feel more confident in their golfing ability going forward.  Of course the event is also a great opportunity to meet other budding golfers, and to grow their business network. 

Katy Edwards receiving her Hole In One certificate in Portugal

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