Robin Hughes, Wales' PGA Professional of the Year, managed to double his ladies' membership using New 2 Golf.
Q. You were named Wales' PGA Professional of the Year, but how did your journey to become a PGA Professional start?
A. To be honest I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life until I was about 24. I was a good amateur golfer, but I decided I wanted to go to University. Once completed I spent a while working on a Cruise ship before moving to Barcelona. I eventually did the first year of my PGA qualification in 2015 then went to the USA to coach. When I came back I was approached by the Golf Club and took up a role here in Llandudno.
Q. Why women golfer? Was there a specific reason?
A. The women and junior sections were both struggling so I was asked to try and grow both sections. We managed to increase the ladies’ membership by double and the junior membership from four to 100 which includes 25 girls.
Q. What programme have you been running and how does it work?
A. We started running the Wales Golf’s New2Golf programme. It offers six weeks of free coaching, which is funded by Wales Golf. The coaching methods and the format of the sessions are all to the individual PGA Professional.
Q. What efforts has the Club made to support this objective?
A. The support we’ve had from the Club has been tremendous. Our practice facilities are about 500 yards away from the clubhouse so we moved all our activities towards the clubhouse so that the women felt more connected to the Golf Club. The members volunteer their time to help deliver the programme as well which really made everyone feel part of the Golf Club straight away. We also make sure that our New2Golf sessions finish at the same time as the lady members do which means there is always someone in the clubhouse to welcome them.
Q. How successful has the programme been in retaining thewomen coming to New2Golf?
A. Initially we had a few problems because New2Golf assumes that women will want to become members after six weeks, which isn’t the case. The Club introduced a stepping stone membership for the women from Year 1 to Year 3 and the impact has been incredible. It’s been so popular that the Golf Club has had to make fundamental changes to the Club to accommodate the women who are joining through the New2Golf sessions. A lot of them are aged between 25 to 40, so they work which meant the club introducing a 4.30 tee times for ladies.
Q. Best advice?
A. Nurture women through the process. If you get to know your female golfers, you’ll find you make great friends with them – I even get invited to weddings now! But seriously, it’s easy to see which women are just there to treat golf as a leisure activity, which is fine. There is a place for that in the game, but equally, there are women amongst them who really want to improve and become better golfers. They are the really great ones to coach and I get a kick out of seeing them grow and progress.
Q. Are there any good examples?
A. The first female group I ever taught at Llandudno are all about to play on their first competition, which is really exciting for us all. There is a lady called Sandra who started out two years ago who now plays off 25. Her husband started to play a year later and her son is already down to 20 in that time. It's great to see families enjoying the game together.