“I met loads of lovely like-minded women”

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 8, 2022 12:20

Thonock Park Golf Club’s trainee PGA professional, Abby Sweetman, has been delivering love.golf women’s events – specifically designed to encourage women to play golf – at the venue for a number of years. Here, we look at the latest event, in collaboration with PING, and why this format is proving to be successful. Lily Hymes reports

After a number of successful social media influencer events by love.golf, which specifically targets women who either haven’t played golf before or have only dipped their toes in the water, the latest instalment, held at Thonock Park Golf Club in Lincolnshire and supported by PING, this autumn, was a natural partnership.

Abby Sweetman

Since the birth of love.golf in 2016, the female golf coaching experience shaped by a combination of academic and market research from head coach, Alastair Spink and Syngenta, it has introduced thousands of women to the game and continues to push boundaries in its approach.

Whilst PING, founded by Karsten Solheim, who was the driving force behind the Solheim Cup alongside his wife Louise, has a strong interest in supporting women’s golf at all levels.
Lisa Lovatt, PING Europe’s managing director, explained: “PING has always been really supportive of women’s golf. Throughout the years we’ve always supported with equipment, we make equipment that is specific for women and we get involved with things like this.”

Miss North Lincolnshire, Milly Everatt

Lisa elaborated on why reaching out to and welcoming women into the sport is so important:

“For me personally, I would consider myself somebody quite confident with the role that I do, but even I found it intimidating to come into a club and start to play.

“It’s tough because it’s the perception of it and I think it’s important we break down the barriers as much as possible, so things like this are really important to us, that we can try and encourage women to come and at least give it a go because I feel like if they give it a go, you won’t convert everybody, but you know you’ll capture those that are there to be captured.”

Abby Sweetman, trainee PGA professional at Thonock Park, has been delivering love.golf at the venue for a number of years, and is in the perfect position to welcome women to the game:

The attendees at the recent event

“For me, having been through the whole process – starting as a junior, playing junior golf, then going into teaching, as a female, I’ve got a passion for getting women into the game because I know I’ve done it and it can be done.”

“It depends on the client – some will be more serious than others but most of the time when you get a group of women together, you’re chatting for half the lesson! As a female coach you’re more relatable and you can have a bit more of a laugh.”

The love.golf social media influencer events deliver an authentic love.golf experience, but enable the girls to come together and get to know each other over lunch, before heading out to play golf on the golf course, after learning a few basics from their coaches.

Speaking about the event itself, Abby noticed a few differences that had to be taken into consideration with the group:

“Beforehand, I wasn’t too nervous about it because it was just delivering love.golf how I normally deliver it, but on a bigger scale. But when they came here, it surprised me just how much social media content they actually do – I think it’s great, obviously it’s great promotion for love.golf, Thonock Park and PING, so I really enjoyed it! It was just about allowing them to do their thing.

“They blended really well. I thought they’d be a little bit more reserved but everyone was very friendly and they all got on with it and threw themselves into it which is what love.golf is all about – just getting stuck in and having a go!”

Abby was joined by fellow love.golf coach and PGA professional, Ellie Robinson (Leeds Golf Centre) and the dynamic between the two was ideal for putting the women at ease, as Abby explains:

“It was the first time I met Ellie but I really like working with other coaches – you have that rapport! You bounce off each other and have a little bit of a laugh and if the girls see that you’re having a laugh, it just relaxes them a bit more as well. I really enjoyed it!”

For Ellie, it was her first time coaching at Thonock Park alongside Abby, as well as her first love.golf social media influencer event:

“I was a bit like the women turning up – I was nervous because it’s not on my territory, although I’ve done this before it’s a new environment, but it was really fun! Abby’s really chilled and relaxed – we got on well and we both understood the game plan of making it fun, so that’s the main thing.

“It was a very different dynamic to the women I’ve met before, maybe because they’re all in the same boat in terms of that influencer side and they’re very good with communication.

They were all interacting with each other, you could see them, they weren’t stuck in small little groups and no one tried to outshine anyone else.”

One of the major components of the event was the post-golf Q&A, led by Alastair Spink and attended by Lisa Lovatt, with the aim of discovering more about their perception of golf both before and after their experience.

Lisa shared her thoughts after hearing the comments made during the Q&A:

Lisa Lovatt

“There were some really relevant points made, that if you can bring somebody with you, you’re more comfortable, but typically you wouldn’t give it a thought if you weren’t involved with a relative or a relationship that was involved in golf. I think it’s important we put it out there to encourage women to think about that even if they’ve had no involvement in golf.

“I think people are starting to recognise that these women that are participating are good sports people! They play their sport at a really high level. You can see it with the football now, and with netball – women’s sport is really gaining in momentum. These women are keen sports people, they’re competitive.”

Ellie Robinson with Milly Everatt

Abby and Ellie were also a part of the Q&A and Ellie noted her considerations after hearing the girls’ remarks:

“This is completely changing their perception of what they thought golf was about and showcasing to them that they can walk into a golf club and don’t feel like they’re going to be judged or they shouldn’t be nervous about walking into a new environment.

“In the Q&A when they talked about the importance of bringing a friend, I’m 100 percent that person! I’ll sign up to something and then panic, whereas if I was with someone, I’m more likely to attend. It just relaxes that person before they arrive so then they may feel that they can dive into the session a little bit more.

“I think they’ll go back to their friends and say ‘I had an amazing day at Thonock Park. I met loads of lovely like-minded women. We were all in the same boat, we were all brand new to golf,’ and that’s a great position to be in.”

Coaches and venues that may like to host something similar or get involved with love.golf can contact Alastair Spink via alastair@love.golf

Find out more about love.golf: www.love.golf


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 8, 2022 12:20
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