Sophie Daws started playing golf aged just six and uses her experiences as a young female amateur golfer to make girls and women feel welcome at Etchinghill Golf Club. Group sessions for female players are always popular and a great way to make new friends.
Q. What’s your golfing background?
A. I started playing golf at around the age of 6 or 7 and really got the bug at age 10 when I had my younger brother to compete with. When I was 13 I started playing for the Kent Girls and had achieved a handicap of 2 by the age of 16. In my teens I won my club championship 3 years in a row, the Kent Girls Championship, Kent schools Championship and was the Kent Ladies Champion of Champion. I turned pro at the age of 18 and enjoy all aspects of my role and have recently become the Head Pro at Etchinghill Golf Club which is where I did my PGA training.
Q. How long have you been a PGA pro?
A. Five years
Q. How often do you work with women and girls?
A. I do a girls only coaching session once a week and a ladies supervised practice session. Each of these sessions has 5 or 6 turn up regularly. I also teach about 6-8 ladies individually. I also work closely with the Kent Ladies Golf Association and coach for them too.
Q. How have you recruited women and girls into your programmes?
A. I have recruited women and girls into my coaching programmes mainly through word of mouth and with the way the golf club is set up, we have a lot of non-members and non-golfers coming through the door. We are a very welcoming to everyone and let people know what we have on offer in terms of coaching. Once visitors know the club has a relaxed and nice environment, they are more likely to come again and not feel intimidated.
As far as girls coaching is concerned, I also spend some time in schools, getting the girls as involved as I can and then letting them know about the sessions we offer at the golf club.
Q. How do you encourage them to play golf? Particular initiatives?
A. I try to get the girls enjoying themselves as a group to keep them interested. I find that if they know one of their friends are going to be there then they will be more likely to continue. I ensure that they are encouraged and have manageable goals to try and reach.
Q. How successful are you at attracting/motivating new players – and keeping them playing?
A. I think that I tend to keep people motivated, not necessarily only my own lessons but people that regularly use the course and driving range. I like to ask them how they are getting on and offer any support and guidance if they need it.
Q. How supportive is your club?
A. The course I work at is very relaxed, friendly and welcoming which is brilliant when it comes to new players.
Q. Your best coaching experience?
A. I can’t chose one that stands out but I really enjoy coaching young people and seeing them get excited about playing golf.
Q. Your star pupil? (doesn’t necessarily mean your best player)
A. I can’t choose between them so I have to put two. Poppy and Anouk who are both aged 10 and have been coming for group and individual coaching for the last 3 or 4 years. Poppy is very naturally talented and very relaxed about everything and Anouk works really hard and is always willing to learn. They are both about to get their first handicaps and are great friends so will always have someone to play with.
Q. Personal golfing goals?
A. Next year I am hoping to start playing more competitions again as I haven’t for the last couple of years and have missed competing.
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