Woman named first ever female captain of a golf club in Ireland

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 31, 2022 19:58

Dungannon Golf Club in Northern Ireland has become the first golf club in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to appoint a woman as its overall captain.

Alison Chestnutt, a biology and careers teacher, is the first ever female captain of the 132-year-old golf club.

Many golf clubs have had female captains who oversee the female membership, but she is the first to represent the entire membership.

Alison explained: “When people think of golf clubs they conjure up images of stuffy gentlemen in clubs with lots of rules, but I’m proud to say that Dungannon Golf Club is nothing like that.”

She joined Dungannon Golf Club in 2000, and said the last two decades have seen gradual progress.

Full membership was offered to women in 2006, and in 2019 Dungannon became one of the first clubs in Northern Ireland to appoint a woman president, Lorraine Wilson.

About 10 to 12 percent of the club’s membership in 2022 is female.

Alison added: “I am absolutely delighted to become captain of Dungannon Golf Club. Whilst it’s a club with an illustrious past, it’s a progressive, forward-thinking club.”

She said the exploits of female stars like Leona Maguire, who last year became the first Irishwoman to compete at the Solheim Cup, had led to more younger females joining.

In 2021 the club signed up to The R&A and Golf Ireland’s Women in Golf Charter, and ran a popular Get Into Golf programme for females of all ages during the summer.

As a result 20 women joined the club.

Alison explained that she didn’t come from a golfing family, adding: “I only took up the sport when I started teaching in the Royal School Dungannon and my colleagues lent me clubs and taught me how to play.

“I joined the club in 2000 and, yes, it was daunting at the beginning, playing with people I didn’t know, but I soon realised that the women were very friendly and encouraging and they made me feel part of the club very quickly.

“Since then I have made many lifelong friends through golf.

“Dungannon is a club that’s brimming with positivity. We’ve seen membership grow significantly in recent years. In fact, last year we closed our seven-day men’s membership and we’ve currently got a healthy waiting list.

“In order to encourage female participation we have reserved spaces for women wishing to join.”

Asked about how the members had reacted to her appointment, Alison said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement that I’ve had from the members and the community already and I promise to work as hard as I can to make sure Dungannon Golf Club continues to go from strength to strength.”
Sean T Hughes, a former club captain and president, said: “We are blessed at Dungannon that we have had some fantastic lady members of our club, and still have them.

“Alison will be the first lady to be captain of our club, but in the coming years she will be followed by other ladies in this club and other ladies across Northern Ireland.”

Anne McCormack of Golf Ireland said it was “a massive step forward for Dungannon”.

“We’re hoping to see more of this over the coming years,” she added.

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir January 31, 2022 19:58
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1 Comment

  1. TaylorMade January 28, 11:42

    Wow, whatever next!!

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