Crue Elliot has been inspired by his own experiences to try and simplify and open up access to the golf club to women and youngsters. He believes it is essential to encourage more women to play if we really want to to support the future of the game in general.
Elliot is one of the first PGA coaches to be using COLOUR PATH GOLF in his lessons. This new concept is making golf easier and faster to learn, which is helping retain women in the game.
Q. How did your journey to become a PGA Pro start?
A. I studied my three-year PGA diploma at Burnham Beeches Golf Club. I worked under head professional Ronnie Bolton learning the skills of business but more importantly having the freedom to teach as much as I liked. This freedom allowed me to develop a love for coaching. I loved the difficulty of coaching and the art of finding a simple answer.
Q. Why Women – Was there a specific reason?
A. I don’t think there is a club I have played at where the male to female ratio of golfers is equal. I think it’s really important that we encourage more women to play in order change the make-up of the Golf Club and to support the future of the game in general.
Q. What efforts has the Club made to support this objective?
A. Our pathway to membership is quite unique. We have a pre-academy membership, which is to all intents and purposes is a six-week trial. After six weeks we offer a 12 week, affordable academy membership which helps the beginners become more competent golfers by learning on the course as well as in the bays.
After 12 weeks the players are entitled to join the club’s Affiliate Scheme. This is a year-long, half price membership with no joining fees. Players are entitled to play off-peak and to take part in competitions and get their handicap, which is a pre-requisite for full membership to Sandy Lodge Golf Club.
Q. How successful has the pathway been in retaining interest?
A. Beginners learn in different ways and at different rates, so what we commonly see in group situations is women who feel disheartened when other members of the group pick up golf quickly. We do our best to encourage them to work to their own timescales, but unfortunately, we do see some drop outs at this early stage.
The Academy is all about nurturing women and by this stage they are buying their own equipment and really getting involved in the game, which means that once they get to the Affiliate Scheme we have a 100 per cent retention rate.
Q. What structure does the programme / sessions take?
A. The six-week Pre-Academy programme is all about getting women to hold the club and hit it. As a coach we learn to identify problems, which is easy, but communicating them can be tough. I like to keep my coaching style as simple as possible, so have started using a system called Colour Path Golf.
Colour Path Golf is a visual way of learning that helps beginners, women in particular, to understand the golf swing. You place coloured strips, pads, discs on the floor to help pupil get a visual idea what you are asking them to do. There is unlimited ways to use CPG to help pupil which is what I love. As the golfers develop you can create training stations that you can take on the course to show pupils how to take them thoughts to the course.
Q. How important is it to get them on the course quickly?
A. We like to get them out playing golf as quickly as possible. Hitting balls on a driving range isn’t the same as playing golf, is it? What always surprises me though is the number of women who are worried about what will happen if they do something ‘wrong’ on the golf course. It’s important to remind them that we were all beginners once and that this is the only place that the golf course is the only place where we learn the rules and etiquette.
Q. Best advice?
A. Keep it simple. Whether you are coaching or developing a pathway for your female golfers, don’t complicate it. Be enthusiastic and believe in what your teaching and pupils with listen and Learn.