Bringing the social element to golf

Jo Taylor, a golf pro at Tyrrells Wood Golf Club, has recently joined the love.golf programme. She tells Andy Brown about how the programme works and why getting out onto the course early is key.

How long have you been a PGA Pro for? 

I completed the applied golf management studies degree in 2011 and I turned pro in my last year, so have been a pro for around five years now. I have been at Tyrrells Wood for three years now and before that I was working in Horesham and while I was at University I did some placements, so I went up to North Berwick and Hever Castle and had a few varied experiences which was great.

How did you get involved in love.golf?

I know Alastair Spink (the founder) from way back and when I finished my undergraduate degree I went onto do a MSC in sports coaching at the University of Birmingham and Alistair had just completed that, so we reconnected there. I was aware of the programme that he was running at that time – it was called Here Come the Girls then – and knew how successful it had been. When Alastair was looking for coaches for love.golf he contacted me. I recently started up the course which is great as it is something I’ve been looking to get involved in for a while.

Did you have to sell it to the club? 

No, as at the moment we have quite a small group of lady members and, like a lot of clubs, that number has declined over the last few years and a high proportion of the members that we do have are older. The club are very aware of the need to get new members in, so didn’t take much persuasion.

How it is going so far? 

Good, the feedback from those that have signed up has been that they really like that it is quite social and they have met some ladies that are in a similar position to them. After the first session that we did we came off the course and for a few ladies it was the first time that they had ever been on a course. A few of the ladies had received lessons before but they had been very technical and on the range; they hadn’t found them enjoyable.

Is it key that you get out on the course so quickly? 

We spent about 20 minutes on the practice ground getting them to hit a ball and then we went straight out onto the course which I think is a big thing as otherwise you spend weeks standing on a range matt hitting the ball and never actually get to play. We do have a general theme each week and if someone has a question and wants to know why something is happening we can get technical but this is very much led by them, rather than me standing there and telling them what I think they need to know, so it is more of a two way process.

What are some of the main barriers to women playing golf?  

A lot of people come in and they feel that, straight away, they have to be of a certain standard and getting out onto the golf course can be intimidating. Finding enough people to play golf with can be an issue, especially if you are at a club with a limited number of ladies. The general traditional view of a golf club that it is a stuffy place and you have to know the rules can put people off. That’s where love.golf is great because straight away they are playing the game and that helps to break down the barriers. I had a lady the other day who said that golf was something that she always wanted to do and this had given her that opportunity as well as meeting some new people – the social side is really important with love.golf.

Do you think women are a big opportunity for golf in the UK? 

I think that women are a massive opportunity for us to grow the game and I’ve found that, a lot of the time, when ladies come along they will bring a friend so you can end up with two or three people. If you get in women then you are also more likely to get in juniors so it is a huge opportunity. The programme creates a really nice environment and makes people feel comfortable straight away and they are more likely to keep coming as what we do is more enjoyable than just going to the range. We started off fairly early with the programme in February, and the idea is to run it throughout the summer and to grow it.