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England Golf Awards

‘We were literally picking women out of the car park’

Kicking off a new series of Local Heroes in women’s golf, Sonia McCarthy and Kirsty Joly have helped almost 100 women play golf – and got an England Golf award for their efforts.

 

Sonia McCarthy and Kirsty Joly only took up golf in 2022 – but their impact on the game has been nothing short of remarkable.

Since the duo started at Sandown Park Golf Centre, in Surrey, they’ve taken the club’s offering to its female players to new heights.

It was work that saw them rewarded with a big gong, as they were named Volunteer of the Year at the England Golf Awards earlier this year.

Sonia and Kirsty’s enthusiastic and encouraging nature allowed them to help almost 100 women start playing in less than 10 months.

The club, which can be found close to the grandstands at the famous Sandown Racecourse, has also now become a social hub which provides women with a safe environment and benefits their physical and mental health.

England Golf Award recognises the ‘perfect volunteer pairing’

england golf award

The pair have introduced roll-ups, organised away games at other clubs and set-up matches and competitions with the Sandown Park men.

Sonia and Kirsty have been described as the perfect volunteer pairing, with their warmth and friendship making people feel welcome and restoring confidence following the Covid pandemic.

They picked up their award at a glitzy ceremony at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate, where Sonia said: “The ladies who take part in our programme are phenomenal and this award is for them just as much as it is for us. We started the programme by literally picking women out of the car park so we’ve come a long way!”

Kirsty added: “We wanted to show women that they could get involved and enjoy golf as a social sport. It is sometimes quite male-dominated so it is nice to show women that they can get involved in golf.

“We started the programme from nothing and now we have over 100 ladies playing and nearly 40 of them have got an official handicap as well so we’re absolutely delighted.”

Are you one of those who has been helped by Kirsty and Sonia to get into golf? How have you taken up the sport? Let me know on X, formerly known as twitter.

Pictures from England Golf

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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