England (Midlands) Region
15 Jun 17
Magnificent seven: (from left) Hannah Vaughan, Rachel Woodcock, Katie Tebbet, Zoe North, Kym Larratt, Amy Taylor, and Evie Carter
A move to get Leicestershire’s female PGA Professionals playing in county events resulted in all six of them taking part in the Lutterworth Golf Club Pro-Am last month.
And the number of females taking part did not end there. Rachel Woodcock, who is attached to Elsham Golf Club in Lincolnshire, discovered that girls were not only allowed but positively encouraged and also played. As a result more than a quarter of the 26 pros in action were female.
The initiative was launched by Mark Hatton (below, right), Leicester and Rutland PGA county secretary and treasurer, and took shape last December.
“Leicestershire pro-ams traditionally have smaller fields, there are usually about 18 to 20 teams,” he explained.
“I wanted to do something to increase the numbers and, knowing we have six female PGA pros in the county, I got in touch to encourage them to play.
“Within three weeks all six had got back to me saying it was a great idea and pledging their support. Then we got a seventh involved when Rachel Woodcock agreed to play.
“It’s unusual for a county to have six female professionals and to have them all playing in one event was brilliant.
“It created a good atmosphere, boosted the field, which in turn boosted the prize fund.”
There was also a separate prize fund for the girls, which was won by Rothley Park’s Katie Tebbet, while Rutland Water Golf Club’s Hannah Vaughan finished joint fifth in the team competition.
Hatton is keen to repeat the exercise in future events and, given the positive feedback from the girls at Lutterworth, is optimistic they will get involved again.
However, in Zoe North (right), a PGA pro at Lutterworth, he is preaching to the converted.
“Zoe has played in most of the pro-ams for the past two years,” he added. “And last year Amy Taylor and Hannah Vaughan played a couple of events each, got a taste for it and were at Lutterworth.
“Zoe was the first female to qualify for our matchplay two years ago and also was the first female pro to come on our Leicestershire overseas pro-am.”
North, who captained an all-female team at Lutterworth comprising club members, is full of praise for the way Hatton has encouraged her and her peers to get involved.
“He is so friendly and has always made me feel welcome,” she said. “That was the case with all of us at Lutterworth. It was a brilliant event and everyone stayed behind afterwards to get involved in the One-Chip Challenge and socialize. That doesn’t always happen.
“All the other guys were welcoming as well. We weren’t made to feel awkward or out of place and we all really enjoyed the day.
“I try to play in as many of these events as possible and go on the overseas pro-ams. I’ve been on the last two and although I’m unable to go on the next one I’ve already signed up for the one in March."