Golf has a really bad image. From the outside it’s middle aged, fussy, grey and posh. It’s impenetrable, stuck in its ways and unwelcoming. Why anyone would want to join a ‘club’ like this is beyond me!

The truth is that golf has a split personality. There is a visibly sexist, privileged element, but behind closed doors you find the inspiring, fabulous, kind, hardworking people who I encounter day in day out. These are the people who drive the game, who raise thousands of pounds for golf charities, who battle to keep their clubs alive and who genuinely love this game.

I was invited to the Golf Foundation’s Presidents Awards last week. It epitomised this dual personality perfectly. Sat in the lavish surroundings of Wentworth’s ball room were the good and the great of golf alongside its unsung heroes. We heard stories of imaginative campaigns to grow the game, of people who have dedicated their time to working with youngsters to show them what golf means to them. Yet, despite the Pro-Am taking place right outside, there was not a single Tour player or celebrity prepared to spare 5 minutes to acknowledge them.

Golf Foundation Awards
Critchley Award presented to 3 Hammers Golf

Although every award winner was amazing, there are two stories that have stuck with me. The first was the rather ingenious efforts by Alan Leason of Sand Martins GC. Rather than challenge or even prosecute the vandals who were defacing his club, he invited them in and made them ambassadors for the golf club.

The second was a story recounted by the winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Award, the Foundation’s most prestigious award. David Owen of Knowles G.C. Bristol told the story of a 9 year old girl who ‘took to tournament play like a duck to water’ and as she left the course after her first competition ran up to him and declared that it was ‘the best day of her life’. The story brought a tear to my eye – he was so very proud of her – and, just as we all composed ourselves, he announced that she was there with him today as a fully fledged, grown-up, lady golfer.

I was left with two questions. Why are these tales the ones that fall by the wayside? And, why aren’t these people the voice of golf? These wonderful people are changing lives every day. They are down to earth, dedicated, passionate, friendly, fun people. They reminded me why I love this game and why I want more people to pick up a club and feel the joy of hitting a long straight drive for the first time or sinking that ridiculous 15ft putt. The camaraderie of a club is infectious and the more people who experience this, the better.

Nicole Wheatley Director Medi8
Nicole Wheatley

Nicole Wheatley
Director at Medi8 Limited

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