Natalie Haywood - ‘Having a female head pro would never have happened 30 years ago’

Natalie Haywood - ‘Having a female head pro would never have happened 30 years ago’


Natalie Haywood on her new role at Rotherham and her plans for the future.

Natalie Haywood was 12 when she joined Rotherham GC, at the time she was the only junior girl at the club.

In March she became the club’s new head professional, the first female to hold the position, after Gregg Roberts decided to retire after nine years at the South Yorkshire club.

“I joined Rotherham as a junior and I then did my PGA training there as well. It was my home club until I was 23 when I moved on. I know most of the members from when I was younger so everyone’s been really welcoming and positive about me taking over from Gregg,” explains Haywood.

“I’ve not been a head pro before and there’s a lot to learn but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s always daunting when you start a new job but it will be good. Things are slowly changing in the game but they are moving forward and having a female head pro would never have happened 30 years ago.

“In the interview I was asked what new ideas that I might have, what I might bring to the club and how I might fit into whatever route the club would be going in. I run the Rob Rock Junior Tour and we’ve now set up an academy in his name at Rotherham where I will become one of Robert’s academy coaches and teach his method of coaching. There’s another one at Silvermere but nothing in the north.”

Rotherham is best known for its links with Danny Willett. The 2016 Masters champion joined as a teenager where he was part of a strong junior section which also included Haywood’s brother, Sam, who caddied for Willett and now works with David Lipsky on the PGA Tour. More recently Ben Schmidt came through the ranks before representing Great Britain & Ireland at the Walker Cup at Seminole.

“It’s a very traditional club with a stunning Downton Abbey-like clubhouse. It’s a parkland course and the greens are fantastic. The drive runs through the middle of the course and you really don’t expect what’s to come when you turn off the main road.

“It was always the best club in South Yorkshire to be a junior at and attracted some great players and I have some very find memories of growing up at Rotherham.”

Haywood is already modernising the shop where she will be bringing in some different brands and the club are currently undergoing some course renovations, with a particular focus on the bunkers. What Haywood also brings is the hope that she will be able to attract more women to the club and into the game. 

“I’ll be introducing some more ladies’ coaching and social nights to try attract more women. It’s not an easy market but we’ll try some different things and see what works best in the area. It won’t be just about the golf and will be more of a social thing where ladies can bring friends along.”

If you want an idea of how Haywood can drive a concept forward then you only need look at the success of the Robert Rock Junior Tour. What began as a single event at Beeston Fields in Nottingham in 2016 now features 24 events in the UK this year. They’ve just staged a European Masters at Vilamoura in Portugal and there will be an event in Abu Dhabi in April. 

They’re now sponsored by EuroSelect Golf Stores, Adidas, Ping, Callaway, PowaKaddy and Bushnell and there is a new affiliation with the Faldo Series. There are ‘majors’ at Frilford Heath, The Belfry and Princes and Haywood will continue to run the tour along with her new role at Rotherham.

“It’s going to be busy but that’s great and I can’t wait to get going with everything.”


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