Denise Hastings took up coaching after playing on the European Tour for ten years. The PGA asks her some questions about how she got into women's coaching and what suprises her most about female golfers.
Q. How long have you been coaching for?
A. Since 1987. I left the Tour and was offered a job by Vivian Saunders, founder of the Women's Professional Golf Association and the European Women's Tour. She taught me to play golf so she played a really important role in my early career. She really is an inspirational lady.
Q. When did you start delivering coaching sessions for women?
A. From day one. Vivian was teaching groups of women and I watched her every move! She had an incredible way of mesmerising everyone around her and making them believe that they could be better golfers than they were.
Q. Has much changed since you started out?
A. Absolutely. Despite how it may seem sometimes golf has moved on tremendously from the 1990s when people thought money was the thing that allowed you to play golf. Playing golf was a status symbol, even for women! Nowadays clubs like the one I am based at are much more accessible to ‘normal’ people. It’s a fantastic development and one that we often forget about.
Q. What’s surprised you most about the women you coach?
A. Almost every woman who starts playing golf regrets not taking it up earlier on in their life. A lot of the women who come to me are unable to play the sports they loved when they were younger and are taking up golf as an alternative. Women love to play sport and enjoy the social side of being involved with a club.
Q. Do you find that women and men respond differently to coaching?
A. Actually I do. Women just want to get out, play and have fun. As long as they are getting out on the course they’re quite happy. Male beginners want to get into the detail and be a bit more technical about it all. The group format is also quite important for women. They enjoy spending time with their friends and we really encourage this.
Friendship really is an important part of the learning process here. ‘Buddying up’ really helps the transition from the Par 3 we have here to the big course because full members can help guide them through the points of etiquette. We forget that understanding the rules and what’s acceptable and not is almost as intimidating as hitting your first golf ball.
Q. How do you go about encouraging women to start to play?
A. We use posters and emails but word of mouth is the one thing that really delivers success for us. Our first session is just £10, including a coffee which gives us the chance to talk over the next steps. We stopped offering free sessions because people were a bit suspicious, wondering what the catch was. After that first session we have a structured, but relatively informal approach, offering 6 sessions which can be taken when it suits them.
Q. What’s the best advice you have been given?
A. Keep things simple. If people are having fun and learning at the same time then they will keep coming back.
Q. What’s the best advice you can give to someone wanting to reach more lady golfers?
A. If you offer formats that include a social element to them you quickly create a friendly community feeling. We run sessions called Cake & Clubs in the winter and Wine & Wedges in the summer. The ladies come for an hour, but stay for 3!
To find out more about female programmes near you visit the We Love Golf Facebook page.
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