Parkstone assistant pro Alice Davis says she never wanted to make it as a player. Instead, she focused on her passion of coaching and growing the women's game
“Women’s golf is beginning to blossom more as the cultural stigma weakens. It is becoming more accepted by both golfers and non-golfers that girls belong in golf too.” The passion is obvious in Alice Davis’s voice.
Alice started the Pink Ladies Academy at Parkstone Golf Club in Dorset, where she is an assistant pro, in 2018 and has had 50 women take part to date, testament to a club with a history of promoting the women’s game.
Alice joined Parkstone in 2009, where she became the first female junior captain. Since then they have had two more girls as junior captain. “It is a strong sign of progress that clubs are recognising that girls can be junior captains and are valued as members of the junior section,” she says. “The girls are up there in terms of quality and they’re proving they’re just as strong as the boys.”
And it’s that competitive spirit that Alice relishes the most.
“Dorset county boys play for the Peter Alliss Trophy,” she recalls. “In 2009 Alliss introduced a female equivalent, which I won in its inaugural year and came runner-up the following year.
“To see prominent golfing figures supporting female golf as equally as the men’s game not only gives girls the prominence they deserve, but also helps towards changing the attitudes and tired out clichés of the golfing community.
“At the time, there was a high level of girls’ golf in our county, boasting Georgia Hall and Hayley Davis. To turn up to tournaments already knowing most of the girls and having an in-built friendship group helps remove the daunting aspect of tournament golf and helps you ease into competitive golf.”
But, as is often the case for women in golf, there were stumbling blocks.
“The county girls team didn’t have any training. While the boys were offered the opportunity to train, we simply didn’t have the funding. Yet we persevered because we didn’t know any different. We found our own way of training and progressing through our own one-to-one sessions and clinics with the club pro.”
This experience forged Alice’s future career. From as young as 15 Alice knew teaching was the path she wanted to follow.
“I knew I wasn’t going to make it as a player like my peers, such as Georgia, but I didn’t want to make it as a player. It was teaching I was passionate about.”
Alice had one goal: to encourage the next generation of female golfers – “I want others to see the love and passion I have for it” – and since 2012 has run three classes every Sunday with 30 girls a week, some as young as four.
“A lot of girls fall out of love with golf because they don’t see the social side of it,” Alice explains. “For me, it’s key to keep golf fun and not the strict and serious sport it’s often portrayed as.
“It’s important to create an environment in which girls feel comfortable. For some girls, mixed classes alongside boys can be intimidating and can deter girls before they have even picked up a club.
“My main focus is the enjoyment I want juniors to get out of golf. Because not every golfer is going to become a scratch handicapper, you don’t want them to reach age 18 and think they’re not good enough. You want them to develop confidence in themselves and their ability, nurture their passion, and continue playing into their adult lives.
“Encouraging the growth of ladies golf at grassroots level is just as important for the development of girls’ golf. The age gap between junior girls and the older lady members is too vast. Golf clubs need to inject new life into their ladies sections to prevent numbers dwindling and show junior girls that they have a future in golf.”
“Through the TaylorMade female advisory board, we’ve been working on helping the industry understand what women want and increasing female presence in advertising campaigns and social media.
“The growth of female representation in the industry inspires young girls by finally showing them that golf is indeed a sport they can belong to.”
To hear someone speak so passionately on the subject and to look at what she has achieved in the game so far, it’s incredible to think Alice’s life in golf began almost by accident.
“My parents originally wanted my brother to take up golf,” she explains. “But I showed interest in trying it out so they brought me along. I started playing at age six and instantly fell in love with it. The rest is history.
“I was fortunate to start out my golfing career in an enjoyable and welcoming environment. Canford Magna Golf Club had a fantastic academy setup which was ideal for beginners and attracted many juniors – including a few girls.
“I moved to Ferndown together with almost all the girls I already played with. In total we had about eight girls, which was a huge number in comparison to the rest of the county at the time.
“These girls became my friends and golf became part of my social life.”
She adds: “While most girls at my school would spend their weekends shopping or hanging out in town, I wanted to be at the golf course with my friends.
“Honestly, if I hadn’t had a strong group of other girls, I wouldn’t have continued playing.”
So what piece of advice would Alice have for any women looking to take up the game? She smiles. “It’s never too late to take to the fairways.”
For more information on the Pink Ladies Academy or to contact Alice, visit the Parkstone Golf Club website.
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