Women’s golf in Guernsey looks set to be strengthened thanks to the ongoing work and commitment of the Guernsey Women’s Development Squad.
Established in the spring of 2019, the squad aims to break down the barriers for those looking to improve their game and boost the numbers continuing to play competitively and being available for selection to represent their island.
‘After having the honour of being Ladies' Island Team Golf Captain for the Inter-Insular against Jersey for the last two occasions, I thought that the number of players eligible for selection was very limited and yet the clubs had many women who I felt had the ability, with a little help, to achieve a better standard,’ said Angela Goddard, Development Squad founder member.
‘Therefore, I asked the Royal Guernsey Golf Club (RGGC) pro, Phil Sykes, how and what we could do to improve the ladies’ games. We came up with the idea of setting up a Guernsey Women's Golf Development Squad with a plan to not only improve those Island team players but any lady or Junior girl wanting to raise their game to a new level.
‘And so, the seeds were sown and now, working with Phil, we have on board three more pros Natalie from RGGC, together with John and Alex from La Grande Mare Golf Club,’ said Angela.
‘The idea is to bring the whole of the women’s golf community together, supporting each other, playing in each other’s club open competitions. It’s a pathway for all levels to get involved and better their game,’ said Phil Sykes.
One of the problems that the Development Squad aims to address is the gap between learning to play and competing with a high handicap and those players at the top of the women’s game playing off low handicaps.
‘The Guernsey Golf Union gave the go ahead for a middle group to be established so that we had 3 divisions in the ladies games for 2020,’ said Phil.
There are currently around 45 women players involved in the Squad, including four under 18 junior players.
Squad members take part in practical coaching sessions as well as accessing nutritional and training advice and playing as many competitive matches as possible.
The aims of the squad are to be supportive, welcoming, focused and committed.
‘It’s a central point where like-minded golfers can come together, have some coaching on the range and on the course, play together, look at the statistics and all with the aim of getting better,’ said Phil..
‘It’s about aspiring to get to the next level.’
The Development Squad provides a clear pathway for juniors to progress into the senior game, boosting their confidence and breaking down any barriers they may feel when competing in adult competitions.
‘The aim is to have new names on the silverware and to challenge those who have been at the top for many years,’ said Phil.
‘All the golf professionals are involved. Throughout the year there is weekly coaching on the range and on the course, an inter-island winter league, games on both courses, we’ve had matches against the juniors and the L’Ancresse men.’
‘We have also been very fortunate to have secured a three-year sponsorship deal with La Grande Mare which has enabled us to get all of this off the ground,’ explained Angela.
‘Over the past 18 months the Ladies have been working hard on their core skills as well as their competitive pairings, which is a very important part of team golf. Now all we need is the chance to put all this practice to the test in matches not only against our sister isle but also potentially the Isle of Man, who we've built some strong connections with during the pandemic." ‘
Members of the squad have welcomed the new challenges offered by the Development Squad set up.
‘The best part is bringing in the juniors and giving them the opportunity to develop and seeing there is a future in Women's golf,’ said squad member Julie Creed.
Junior players also commented that playing with more experienced golfers has boosted their confidence.
‘We’re getting fantastic support from the squad,’ said one of the junior girls.
‘The regular training sessions have been useful to maintain our golf throughout the year. Having such a large support group of friendly ladies has also been a big confidence booster.’
Squad member Kay Mapley agreed.
‘Involving the juniors is a big positive factor. The skills sessions are excellent to refresh and practice the essential basic skills and techniques.’
Helen Kelso echoed other squad members by highlighting the value of being able to play on the different golf courses and working with the different professionals.
‘Alex and Natalie are really helpful for example offering advice on club selection.’
Although the 2020 season has been affected by restrictions travelling on and off-island the squad has still managed to host some top-level competitions.
‘With Jersey on board for 2020 the hope had been for a season of competitions at club and island level but also against teams from Jersey, the Isle of Wight and other UK clubs but the impact of Covid meant competitions were restricted to just club and island championships,’ said Phil.
‘The air bridge with the Isle of Man did allow some off-island competition to take place which was great.’
The squad is optimistic that plans for 2021 will be realised and are excited for a new year of golf. Phil is also hoping to add some more names to the squad list in the coming months and is encouraging any women golfers to get in touch.
‘There is nothing to be afraid of, come and speak to us to find out what it’s all about,’ said Phil.
For further information visit https://guernseywomensgolf.gg/