Carly's blog - news and views on the world of ladies' golf
Vote for the volunteers who make golf great!
Let's face it golf is a sport where people give up their entire lives to enhance our enjoyment of the game. Without even thinking of it you could probably list of at least 10 people who volunteer their time for free at your home club, from the Club Captain to the Ladies Secretary and more. That's before we even begin to list those involved in county golf and grass roots schemes. These are usually tough jobs and largely thankless but now's your chance to give something back to these generous people by nominating them in the England Golf Partnership's annual awards, which recognise, celebrate and reward outstanding volunteers in golf.
The closing date for nominations is 14 December 2012 and the easy-to-follow nomination form is found at www.golfvolunteers.org.
There are seven different Volunteer of the Year Award categories which take in age groups, including Under 18, volunteer coaching, those involved in club and county development, and lifetime achievers.
The winners will come from the growing network of golf volunteers, whose passion inspires others to take up and enjoy the sport. They contribute within golf clubs, schools, county golf partnerships, training schemes and many other programmes.
Past winners include Jim Pocknell of Kent (pictured), who went on to represent golf in the Olympic Torch relay; June Poffley of Wiltshire who has since become the first woman to be captain of her club, North Wilts; Joy Hunter of Yorkshire, who has been responsible for the project to review the women's scratch scores of about 2000 English golf courses; and Guy Carr of Durham, who helped raise the profile of his club, South Moor, by securing the 2011 McGregor Trophy, an international championship for U16 boys.
Phillip Beard, Volunteer Manager for the England Golf Partnership, said: "We have so many wonderful volunteers and we want to encourage nominations so those who deserve special praise can be considered for an award."
"Our volunteers give up their time to help new and existing players of all ages to get the most out of their golf. This helps to make the sport as a whole more welcoming and also really helps those in our clubs, including PGA professionals, to encourage the whole membership to reach its potential, including new members."
WSNet-TV Listing a free, weekly on-line publication covering screened events on women's sport across all visual media to make sport on TV more available to women has just launched.
It's hoped the WSNet will make sport on TV more available to women, draw attention to the woeful lack of coverage and also allow broadcasters to promote events which they are (increasingly) publishing/streaming over the internet.
The need for this service was highlighted when the new Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, called on television bosses to broadcast more women's sport in the wake of the success of stars such as Jessica Ennis and Ellie Simmonds during London 2012. Mrs Miller said the success of Team GB's female athletes had been truly inspirational and that the huge TV audiences showed the public had a real appetite for mainstream coverage of women's sport.
Research by the WSFF before London 2012 shows that women's sport in the UK only receives some 2% of media coverage. "These SportsWomen serve as incredibly powerful role models for women and young girls. This needs to be embraced by broadcasters through continued mainstream coverage" said Miller.
"Millers' comments could not be more timely," said Emma Louise Vetriano, Social Media Manager at The Women's Sports Network. "WSNet is today launching a weekly online TV listing guide to make women's sport on TV more accessible. This will be updated regularly and women can sign up to receive a weekly TV updates of sport & fitness on TV AND Internet."
Lorena Ochoa is back (but not for good!)
Former World Number One Lorena Ochoa made a limited return to professional golf last week when she teed up in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France at Chantaco Golf Club in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Aquitaine, France, on the Ladies European Tour.
In this interview the 30-year-old Mexican, who was No.1 for three years and won two majors and 27 tour victories before retiring from full-time golf in April 2010 to focus on her family and charities, explains why she decided to play in France...
Lorena, what made you decide to go back to competing in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France last week?
It's an easy answer. Having Lacoste as a sponsor, they asked me to come and play the tournament. They asked me actually last year and I couldn't because I was pregnant so I said, no, it would be too difficult for me. I said I'd prefer to wait for next year. So here I am and I'm very happy to support the tournament. They've been very good to me being my sponsor for so long so I'm happy to be here.
How has life changed for you?
I don't practise anymore and I'm very relaxed in Mexico. My life is very different right now so when I play golf I just try my best and enjoy the crowd and the kids, if they come to watch us.
Your son, Pedro, travelled with you, will he be a golfer?
Maybe, we wait! He's only nine months old. I promise that I will teach him but then after that he can do whatever he wants.
How did it feel playing in a professional tournament again?
It was exciting. I didn't put any pressure on myself because I don't practice anymore. My life is very different so I just wanted to relax and try to smile out there. If I made a mistake I was easy on myself and that's okay.
How is your life now in Mexico?
I'm very busy. I like to stay active. I do have my foundation, that's my priority and I do play in some tournaments to raise money for the foundation. I'm also...my book is coming out, my book about my life and my experiences on tour. I'm very excited about that, to be able to share with others. Right now, I am preparing for my tournament in Guadalajara, I'm going to play in November the Lorena Ochoa Invitational so that's also something good. I give speeches. Sometimes they ask me to go to a school or university or some company and give a speech and I like it. I do a lot of things. Some people think that you are retired and just sitting at home but no, I'm active all the time and doing different activities and I like it. I give clinics and I like kids very much.
What are your plans for next year and will you play in any more professional tournaments?
No, no. I do play exhibitions but not regular tournaments like this. They invited me and I went about three weeks ago to Oslo, to Norway to play a one day exhibition. They called me to go to the States and I went for a one or two day exhibition, like a scramble or best ball. I do things like that. That's easy. I'm playing just okay so it's okay to play one or two days. I do most of the tournaments for charity. I think we are very lucky to be able to do what we do, play some golf, so for sure, I do that. I like very much to spend time with the kids at the foundation, that's my priority right now, my foundation. Lacoste sponsor and helped me to build a sports facility: a multiple use field where you can play volleyball, basketball. We have that at the school, at the foundation, so it's great.
How do you select which underprivileged kids get to come to your foundation?
We have more than 350 kids. We decided in the community that what is important is that the whole family gets involved in the programme. The mothers come in the morning and they cook for the kids. They have breakfast at the school. They do some warm ups and then they come to classes. What we believe is that the whole community needs to be involved in the programme to be able to help improve and make the whole system successful. We have about 40 kids per classroom so every year, when the first grade is open we are very sad to sometimes leave some kids out because we don't have enough room, but right now the school is running great and we're very happy to be able to support them.
Is education a priority?
Yes, because in Mexico the education is really bad and sometimes kids cannot go to school. They do not have transportation and they do not have a way to get into a public school. The teachers sometimes don't even get to the school to give lessons. It's a very difficult situation in Mexico so I decided I wanted to build my school and help some kids and it's going well so I'm happy. That is my motivation. When I do things in Mexico, it's to get some funds for the school.
Do you feel more proud of that or of your golf career?
The foundation is better. I think winning tournaments says something; that I was very blessed and lucky to do, but I always prefer to be remembered for the things outside the golf course. I think it's more important and also all the time I give speeches or talk to others I think it's very important to be aware that there are a lot of people that need help and just for them, to be able to give back, it could be money, it could be time, I like to help in that way and make people aware that there are so many others in need that we need to get together and help as much as we can.
How do people donate?
You can be a sponsor for one kid all year and it's only 1100 US dollars a year or so for one kid. You get charged on your credit card a little less than 100 dollars a month. That supports one kid for the whole year and gives them food, material, things to work on in school and it pays for their whole expenses. We have some kids that are sponsored, maybe 45 per cent have like Godmothers or Godfathers, you know. The rest have sponsors and we try to raise money for them.
You are now a TV presenter on CNN Living Golf Español . What is that like?
It's something different. It's nice to have the opportunity to talk about golf and give some news and to give some tips. I like very much the programme. I like a new challenge and being able to present this programme really helped me to keep myself going and to learn about production and how you should do things and how they look and putting things together. I like it. A couple of golfers flew to Mexico and did some things with us. Maybe I will film some things with the players here this week.
Warwickshire pair renew their winning ways
Warwickshire's Claire Dowling and Tracy Atkin rekindled a successful partnership to score a runaway win in the England Golf Brenda King Foursomes at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire.
The one-handicappers won the end-of-season senior women's event by eight shots, with gross scores of 72, 77. It was a first outing for both in senior circles - and a postscript to their earlier golfing achievements.
Claire (nee Hourihane) is a former Curtis Cup player and an Irish and British champion, while Tracy (nee Hammond) was an England international who went on to turn professional, despite suffering from Crohn's disease, and who returned to amateur ranks in the late 1990s.
The pair, who knew each other from their days on the international amateur circuit, met up again in Warwickshire, where Claire is a member at Copt Heath and Tracy at Leamington & County. They forged a successful foursomes partnership in the county team, losing only once before Claire decided to retire in 2005.
They've lost nothing of their winning ways. "We play well together because we're always fairly relaxed," said Claire. "We played really well in the first round but I was a bit off on the second day. I didn't hit the ball close enough to the pin and left Tracy some quite long putts on greens which were like lightning. But it's been smashing and we've had great fun."
The runners-up were Gillian Curley (Northamptonshire County) and Amanda Mayne (Saltford) 157 (78 79); followed by Annie Gowing and Kate Evans (Frilford Heath) 158 (77 81). Fourth place - and the first handicap prize - went to Judy McCairns (Oxford Ladies) and Angela Reeves (Frilford Heath) on 159 (76 83).
(Pic Caption: Tracy Atkin (left) and Claire Dowling with the Brenda King Foursomes salvers.)
Lancashire golfers Rita Towler and Dot Scholes made a fairytale debut in the England Golf PING Fourball Betterball Tournament when they became 2012 champions at the Grand Final at Gainsborough.
This is the first year their club, Harwood, has entered the tournament - and by chance, it was Dot who suggested they take part. "I'm the competition secretary and when I saw the flyer I told the committee I thought we should enter," she said.
They took the title with a fantastic score of 41 points in cold and windy conditions on the challenging Karsten Lakes course. They had come through an initial entry of around 15,500 women from over 750 clubs who entered this year's competition. The top 60 pairs contested the Grand Final while the next 72 qualified for the consolation Plate Final.
"We are stunned, shell-shocked, amazed, anything we say is an understatement," said Dot, who plays off 12 (pictured right). Rita, an eight-handicapper, remarked: "It's very special, overwhelming."
They won by two points from Lisa Davies and Karen Griffiths of Leek, Staffordshire. The other prizewinners were: Pat Hales and Jane Betts of Edgbaston, Warwickshire; Kirstine Mayall and Stacey Buckley of Foxhills, Surrey; Jane Baldwin and Carol Smith of Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire; and Denise Page and Sarah Dawson of Willow Valley, Yorkshire.
In addition to the prizes for the top six pairs, all competitors received a PING golf bag, a pair of ECCO shoes and a PING Collection voucher.
The new champions are regular golfing partners and longstanding friends, with a special bond born out of sadness. Dot said: "When my husband, Charlie, died three years ago Rita was the best support I could have had. Golf also helped a lot, the support I had from the golf club was wonderful, it's a bit like a surrogate family."
The runners-up, Lisa Davies and Karen Griffiths, were also taking part in their first national final and, as well as competitive play, they enjoy what they describe as extra-curricular golf: girls days' out, mixed events and breaks.
Karen said: "We've never played in anything where they greet you on the first tee and check the number of clubs in your bag! My knees were shaking." Lisa, who has played for just three years, added: "It's been excellent, absolutely fantastic."
Gainsborough Golf Club is owned by PING and competitors were able to visit the PING fitting centre to try the clubs, including the new Serene range, and also take tours of the PING factory to see how the custom-fit clubs are made.
Putting and nearest the pin competitions were also held in the fitting centre. Helen Hewlett of Lincoln, who missed out on count-back in the main event, had the consolation of winning the putting prize. Helen, who has a handicap of plus four is a past Curtis Cup player, British champion and a winner on the LPGA Tour.
The nearest the pin prize was won by Catherine Devereux of Fishwick Hall, Lancashire, who shot finished less than 2ft from the target. Her partner was her daughter, Rosie, who at 14 was one of the youngest competitors in the field.
Among the other youngsters were Hannah Holden, 16, who plays off three, and her sister, Georgia, 13, who has a handicap of 15.They are members of Lightcliffe in Yorkshire, and finished just out of the prizes with 36 points.
A quartet of golfers from Essex and Cheshire swept to a nine-point win in the first event of the English Women's Murcia Challenge with a superb team total of 102 points.
Team member Lesley Mifsud, of Eaton in Cheshire, commented: "Every single one of us played out of our skins!" She was joined by fellow Eaton member, Belinda Martin, and by Kay Bone and Frances Payne of Upminster.
"Last year we came third and we were determined the beat that - and we did!" said Frances, who enjoyed the distinction of chipping in for a birdie on the 11th on the Mar Menor course.
Crucially, they were on form on the short holes. The competition format called for the best two stableford scores on each hole, with all four scores to count on the short holes. On each of the four par threes they scored eight points or better. "We knew it would come down to the par threes," said Lesley.
The four women met in the first English women's overseas event back in 2010 and have forged a firm friendship, meeting up in between the annual competitive holiday.
The runners-up were Kathy Hunt and Gay Mulvey, from The Leicestershire, with Janet Graham and Carolyn Lines from Abbey Hill in Buckinghamshire. They scored 93 points and pipped a group from Royal Norwich, Norfolk, on count-back.
Devon's Ann Hazelwood came from the chasing pack to win the 36-hole individual championship at the England Golf Women's Murcia Challenge in Spain.
The 15-handicapper from Fingle Glen finished on 72 points, one ahead of her club colleague, Michelle Underwood, which prompted cheers of "Go Fingle!" Michelle in turn pipped Cheshire's Belinda Martin on countback after the two tied on 71.
At the start of the final round Ann was two points off the pace, after scoring 35 in the first round of the 36-hole stableford at Hacienda Riquelme.
It put her in the thick of the hunt and in hot sunshine at El Valle, she equalled the best score of the final day with her impressive 37 points. Her round included two birdies, one of which she achieved with a chip-in.
"I have always enjoyed coming here and I have met lots of lovely friends over the three years, and we meet up with them during the year."
Ann has been playing golf for only six years, after taking up the sport when she was 50. Within two years she and Michelle had reached the national final of the Australian Spoons competition, England Golf's tournament for women golfers with handicaps of 21 and over.
They've continued their successes and just before leaving for Spain they helped their club win two county team events.
El Valle, which has hosted the European Seniors Tour, proved a highly popular venue and the course inspired good scoring. Kent's Sally Seboa set the standard for the day when she came in with 37 points and although her score was matched, it was never passed.
She was quickly followed by Cheshire's Sue Howorth who said: "I loved the course, I felt it was very fair, and I just didn't make many mistakes," she said.
Frances Payne of Essex and Michelle Underwood, playing in the same group, also equalled the day's low score. Frances was left wondering what might have been as she counted the cost of three blobs on the front nine - but she agreed when Michelle said: "We both played well and kept each other going."
However, Ann took pride of place at the top of the leaderboard when she returned her 37 and no-one could topple her. But Belinda Martin, who was one of the overnight leaders and played in the last group, came in with 34 points and finished third.
Price: £159 (graphite)
Yonex VXF Fairway Woods
Price: £129 (Graphite)
The VXF Fairway Woods are powered by the same lightweight, Hi-Stability Yonex HS750 graphite shaft as the VXF Driver featuring a CFS (Centrifugal Force System) technology enabling maximum energy transfer and a solid feel through the ball strike.
Yonex VXF Hybrid
Price: £89 (Graphite)
The VXF Hybrids are powered by the same lightweight, Hi-Stability Yonex HS750 graphite shaft as the VXF Iron featuring a CFS (Centrifugal Force System) technology enabling maximum energy transfer and a solid feel through the ball strike.
Yonex VXF Irons
Price: £489 (Graphite 5-SW)
The 10% larger head produces an increased MOI for increased accuracy whilst also improving confidence at address.
The VXF irons are powered by the new lightweight, Hi-Stability Yonex HS750 graphite shaft that features CFS (Centrifugal Force System) technology enabling maximum energy transfer and a solid feel through the ball strike.
Yonex VXF Putter
Price : £69
Premier Spanish golf destination launches innovative AimPoint Putting clinics
Las Colinas Golf and Country Club, located just south of Alicante in the stunning region of Valencia and regarded as one of Europe's finest golfing destinations is inviting both members and guests to take advantage of a revolutionary new green reading technique this winter.
The innovative AimPoint Green Reading Method has been used by the Golf Channel since 2007 for live broadcasts and now Robert Mitchell, Head PGA Professional at Las Colinas Golf & Country Club is holding a series of coaching courses having gained the honour of being the first certified AimPoint instructor in Spain.
This revolutionary system has been used on the PGA Tour since 2007 and is trusted by professional players competing in all the major tournaments around the world.
Students receive the AimChart in lessons that tells them exactly, in centimetres, how far inside or outside of the cup to aim, on any green in the world.