My Lady Captain’s Day

My Lady Captain’s Day

Lady Captain's Day - me and Jon

Captain Jon was lovely, as ever

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I had my charity day on 30 June, then the committee away day on 2 July, closely followed by my Lady Captain’s Day on 4 July. The day after, I played in the Crowborough Open. At the same time, work started misbehaving with clients sending me projects I couldn’t easily fit in in between all the golf. So it’s been very busy, but I thought I should record my Lady Captain’s day, as it’s one of the big dates in my calendar.

Traditionally, the Captain doesn’t play on her day, which I was very unhappy about. I did suggest that this particular tradition should be changed and even had a couple of tantrums about it, but I was told to zip it by the real bosses. In the end, there was no way I could have played, as there was so much to organise. Also, my elbow was still sore from my charity day, so I probably needed the rest.

 

Lady Captain's Day - gift

I know. It’s very clever.

Jon, the club Captain, was there to be our starter and I gave everyone a little gift. It went down very well (I got it on Personalised gifts shop). When everyone had teed off, Jon suggested me and him should have a little putting competition. Genius! After two holes, however, I realised to my horror that the first group was about to turn and I hadn’t prepared anything. I was supposed to provide snacks and drinks after 9 holes! I threw my putter at Jon and sprinted around the clubhouse for a few minutes to get everything ready.

Once everyone had cold drinks and snacks and was safely off to finish their round, it was time to prepare the prize table, tidy up the snacks and check my rules quiz with Anthony. Before I knew it, everyone was back from playing their 18 holes of golf and I was gathering scorecards.

 

Lady Captain's Day - huge iron comp

Serious stuff

 

Next was lunch, a putting competition and a driving competition with Jan’s huge iron. Then we all had cake and it was time for my rules quiz. We have a lot of new members and I thought it’d be a good way to learn the basic rules. I set it so we’d go through the course, with a problem to solve on every hole. I’m not a huge fan of quizzes, but far from being a bit stale and boring, it was rather rowdy and I struggled to keep the heckling under control. I’m hoping it’ll be especially useful, as I used examples of situations I’ve actually been in on the course.

 

All that was left was the presentation. I was given a lovely present and a lot of appreciation and everyone went home. I had a great time and I was relieved that my Lady Captain’s Day was a success. Who needs to play golf to have fun? Next to organise on my list, I had the Ladies’ invitation to the Seniors, which happened today and was great fun. And now my next deadlines are our Open in three weeks and my away day a week later. Lady Captain’s work is never done.

My charity day raises over £2,000

My charity day raises over £2,000

Lady Captain's charity day - First group out

Look at those bleary eyes at 4:45am

Praying the golf goddess will send good weather

All week I’d been obsessing about the weather, checking the forecast every 20 minutes of so. I knew that it would make a huge difference to my enjoyment of my golfing charity day and, more importantly, to the success of the day and the amount we raised. Would people pull out of the 9 hole competition if the weather was truly awful? Surely people would stay at home in the evening instead of coming up for a drink and a curry in the evening if it was pouring with rain. Fewer walkers would be happening to see the signs I’d put up on the paths around the course and we’d miss out on cake sale.

 

Lady Captain's charity day - first drive

My first drive went straight into the rough. Nothing unusual.

Lady Captain's charity day - first hole

I only want to play at sunrise now. So beautiful.

 

A charity day filled with people

The weather turned out to be still and warm with sunny intervals. I hear that there were heavy showers in Brighton and Hove, but all we had were a couple of moments of refreshing drizzle. In other words, it was perfect for 17 hours of golf. It was pleasantly cool when we teed off at 4:51am and we were treated to a stunning sunrise. By the time we finished the first 18 holes, at 9am, the course was busy with our seniors. After the second 18th at 2pm, the clubhouse was humming with the sound of people chatting and eating cake. When I came up at the end of the third 18 holes, I found golfing and non-golfing friends enjoying drinks and curry on our lovely terrace. I went back out for my last 9 holes of the day and putted out to cheers and clapping from everyone outside the clubhouse, which was really lovely.

All that was left was to do the draw and announce the winners of the 9 hole competition and of the raffle. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place won rounds for four at the beautiful courses that are the Nevill Golf Club, Piltdown Golf Club and Seaford Golf Club. We had more rounds at Lewes Golf Club and Worthing Golf Club in the raffle, a painting by Erin Burns and a print by local architect and artist Alej Ez, two WalkFit vouchers, tickets for the Theatre Royal, a gorgeous rucksack from Badger clothing, a goodie bag from Brighton gin and a golf lesson with Anthony. Then I basked in the praise and appreciation of the lovely people who were there, I had some curry and went home to take some much-needed rest.

Lady Captain's charity day - Cake sale

CAKES!

Drumroll…

In the end, we raised over £2,000, split between online donations (£715), cake sale (£235), the raffle (£580), the competition (£410) and the curry (£86). It’s an excellent result, which will make a big difference to the work of Sussex NightStop with young homeless people, so I’m delighted with that. I was hoping that it would be a day for all our members to get together and enjoy, so I was really happy to see people enjoying the cakes, the competition and the curry throughout the day.

I had a fantastic time. I was expecting to suffer from blisters and to get very tired mid-afternoon, but I was completely fine until the last round at 7:30pm, where I faded quite significantly, which showed in my score: over my seven rounds I had 20, 15 (blip, sorry team!), 20, 19, 20, 20 and 15 Stableford points. I had timed the day so Alex and I would have half an hour in between rounds in case a group took longer and also to have a little rest. That meant that after every round I got to sit around, have a cup of tea and a piece of cake and chat with whoever was around. Then off I went to play with the next group. I genuinely can’t think of a better way to spend a day. Tom was right after all! The only slight negative is a touch of golfer’s elbow that started in the last couple of hours. I was supposed to play in a 36 hole competition today, but instead I’m resting to not aggravate my burgeoning injury. Hopefully it’ll go away.

Lady Captain's charity day - terrace

A lovely evening to spend on our terrace

Greater than the sum of its parts

This was the first charity day I’d organised and I kind of made it up by putting together things that I love: people, golf, cake and curry. It turned out all those main elements combined perfectly to maximise earnings: the people who played in the competition all had tea and cake after playing and some of them came back in the evening to have curry while the last group played their round. Other members and non-golfing friends who didn’t play in the competition also came up to enjoy Emily’s curry on our beautiful terrace. And of course all these people milling around throughout the day bought raffle tickets. So all the various elements of the day combined to get to a great amount for Sussex NightStop.

A fantastic team effort
Lady Captain charity day - the pint

Rarely has a pint been so eagerly anticipated

Of course, I couldn’t have done it on my own and while I was out playing golf, my team was in the clubhouse selling cakes and organising the raffle. Prior to that, my army of bakers had produced said cakes. I also relied on the experience and advice of senior members to work out the logistics of organising a competition on what is already a competition day at the club. I was very lucky to have the support of everyone, from the entire ground and office staff, to the seniors’ Captain and section, which are supposed to have the course to themselves all morning, the club Captain and obviously my own ladies’ section and the lovely Alex! And the Sussex NightStop volunteer was fantastic in sourcing some great prizes for the raffle and making posters to advertise the event.

The charity day was truly a collective effort; my part was to provide the idea and impetus and play a lot of golf, while other people contributed in making it run efficiently. All the hours I spent working out the logistics of it and organising everything were vastly repaid when I walked up the last 18th hole around 9:30pm and saw so many people enjoying themselves outside the clubhouse and cheering as Alex’s last group finished their round. The sense of community and common purpose was overwhelming and at that moment, I couldn’t have been prouder of Brighton & Hove Golf Club.

Would I do something like that again? Yes, absolutely! The only I’d change is that I’d try and have more self-control around the cake table. But they were so delicious!

 

Lady Captain's charity day - last hole

Climbing up the 18th bank for the 7th and last time of the day

Dawn to dusk golfing fundraiser

Dawn to dusk golfing fundraiser

Me: “I’ve had this brilliant idea for a fundraiser for my charity, Sussex NightStop. How about I ask people to sponsor me to play golf from dawn to dusk on one of the longest days of the year? I could invite people to join me! I could organise a 9 hole competition! We could sell cakes and tea and make a day of it! And then have a big curry and beers in the evening!”

Tom: “Playing from dawn to dusk? How does that differ from a normal day for you? People only sponsor people who do challenging things.”

Me: “It would be challenging! 17 hours of traipsing up and down a hilly course, that’s going to be around 30 miles!”

Tom: “Wouldn’t be much more challenging for you to not play golf all day?”

Me: “Oh so people would donate money to watch me sit outside the clubhouse looking miserable?”

Tom: “I would.”

Tom has a point, but I shall ignore it. Traditionally at Brighton & Hove golf club, the Lady Captain raises money for her charity throughout the year: the big event is a very popular Bridge day in March and then raffles at the Open and other events. I wanted to organise a fundraiser that would be more golfy, so here it is.

Dawn to dusk golf fundraiser

Two golfers. 17 hours. 30 miles. Countless lost balls.

The cool dude on the left is Alex. He’s an amazing golfer and he’s agreed to join me. We will tee off at dawn (from 4:51am) and we’ll carry on playing until sunset (9:17pm). We should cover around 30 miles in the day. We’ll be doing 7 rounds of 9 holes and we’ve each invited three people to pay £10 each to join us. We’ll be counting the best two scores and the two teams with the best scores will win a round for four at the Nevill golf club and at Piltdown Golf Club, who kindly donated a voucher, and the third best team some quality wine from my own personal vaulted cellar (well, from under my bed – I live in a small flat). Tee times will be 4:51am, 7am, 9:30am, 12pm, 2:30pm, 5pm and 7:30pm.

We’ll also be selling cake and tea/coffee for £3 from 11am. This is open to anyone at all, walkers, cyclists, dog walkers, anyone who fancies a gorgeous piece of cake while gazing at our magnificent views.

I’ve organised a raffle with some great prizes. Raffle tickets can be bought at the club or fire me a comment here and I’ll get some to you:

And finally, Emily will be serving her famous curry buffet from 6pm (£12, of which £2 go to my charity).

I hope my fundraiser will attract a lot of people to our beautiful club and of course, a lot of money for Sussex NightStop. It should be a fun day, so I hope to see lots of you there.

My Sussex NightStop donation page

Helping beginner golfers: information on pace of play

Helping beginner golfers: information on pace of play

Pace of play

No need to play high speed golf. Just be aware of the people around you.

We have a lot of new members, some of which are discovering golf in all its beautiful intricacy. There are so many things to learn when you join a golf club. During our last committee meeting, we tried to work out what we could do to help them get the most out of joining the club and playing golf. We came up with the idea of a welcome pack with the information they’ll need to find their way around. One huge part of the game of golf is etiquette, which all golfers need to learn about. It’s defined as follows by the R and A:

Etiquette is an integral part of the game, defining golf’s core values. It describes the manner in which the game of golf should be played to ensure all players gain maximum enjoyment.

In short, it’s about “respect”:

  • Respect for the course – leave the course as you would like to find it by repairing pitch-marks, replacing divots and raking bunkers
  • Respect for your fellow players – be sportsmanlike and polite, stay by the green to watch them hole out, and avoid distracting them
  • Respect for the game – by knowing the Rules and etiquette of golf

Essentials are deemed to be Care of the course, Keeping pace and Consideration for others. I thought it would be useful to include a short guide on all of them, starting with pace of play. I’m still working on it, as I’m not sure how “formal” the tone should be; this will be discussed with the committee. Also, I want to help beginners without scaring them and I don’t want to alienate experienced players who might see things differently. It’s quite a tricky balancing act, but here’s what I’ve got so far. It’s a starting point, which only covers friendly rounds, as strict rules must be followed in matches and competitions. I’m hoping that feedback will help me improve it.

 

Pace of play

Summer’s here and the course is getting busy. One of the essential aspects of etiquette on the course is pace of play, which has a knock-on effect on everyone who’s out in the sunshine. This is not about being a great golfer: never forget that nobody cares how well you play, as long as you do it fast. This is the first and last rule in an excellent Golf for Her article titled 10 things to know before your first round ever. The main pace of play indicator is the group in front: as long as you’re keeping up with them, you’re doing fine. If you find yourself regularly struggling to do so, don’t stress! There are few things you can do to speed up and get back on the path of golf righteousness. Follow me, as I give you a few pointers from tee to green.

Have everything ready

Make sure you have all your tools readily accessible: balls, ball marker, pitch fix and a few tees. That way, you’re always ready to take your turn.

Short hitters first

This is not about discriminating against vertically-challenged players. In a friendly round, don’t be too hung up on the order of play. Let the shorter hitters go first, especially if they won’t reach the group in front.

Think about your next shot

As you’re walking to your ball, try and start thinking about you next shot: what club you will use, the hazards you need to avoid, etc. This speeds up the decision process when you get to your ball. Same on the way to the green: as you approach it, pay attention to its general layout to start working out the line of your putt.

You’re not a wildebeest

No need to travel as a pack. Every player should go to her own ball instead of crowding around one ball, then the next, then…

Chatting is great

But hitting the ball is even better! Don’t delay taking your shot because you’re in the middle of a brilliant piece of gossip. Pause, hit, resume conversation.

Don’t take too many practice swings

Most coaches recommend having a pre shot routine to “get in the zone” and focus on your shot. Try and keep yours to a reasonable length.

Hit a provisional ball

Your ball didn’t go exactly in the direction you intended and it might be in trouble? Take a provisional shot so you don’t have to come back to the same spot if you don’t find it. If you’re playing for fun, you can also drop a ball near the place it disappeared.

Look out for your buddies

Try and watch your partners’ shot and to spot where their ball ends up to help them find it quickly. They’ll love you for it, plus this might give you an indication of what might happen to your shot. Maybe you hadn’t realised there was a strong lateral wind. Maybe you hadn’t noticed the bunker on the right. Now you know what to look out for.

Ready? Go!

In a match or a competition, you have to follow the rules when it comes to order of play, but during a friendly round, it’s much quicker to play “ready golf”. This simply means that if you’re ready and it’s safe to do so, take your shot even though it’s not your turn.

Leave your bag in the right place

When you get to the green, have a look at where you’re heading to next and leave the bag so that you can just pick it up on the way to the next tee.

Take all the clubs you need

If you need to chip on to the green, take your putter with you so you won’t need to take unnecessary trips to your golf bag.

No loitering around the green

Don’t stand by the green bemoaning another three putts or filling in your scorecard. This can be done just as satisfyingly at the next tee while someone else is teeing off.

Let the people behind you play through

If, in spite of everything, your pace of play is off, you lose the group ahead of you and the group behind you catches up, let them through. They’ll be happy and you’ll be more relaxed.

More information on the R and A website

Photo credit: Mike Wilson

A golf taster session to grow the women’s section at Brighton & Hove Golf Club

A golf taster session to grow the women’s section at Brighton & Hove Golf Club

As I’ve stated in an earlier post on improving communications within the ladies’ section, one of my goals as Captain is to grow the women’s section at Brighton & Hove. We’re very small and this season, we’ve struggled to field teams in the two divisions we’ve entered. We started working on this around a year ago, when Lindsay, our club Secretary, was contacted by England Golf to organise an event to encourage women to get into golf. A few of the members got together with her to think up ways of reaching out to women and plan what we wanted to offer. We came up with a two-hour golf taster session and an Academy pack as a first step towards golf club membership. We ran the first couple of sessions last year, then another two sessions recently. Overall it’s been a great success. We learnt a lot along the way and I thought I’d share this information here, so other clubs can find ideas to encourage women to try golf.

Promoting our free Get into golf taster session

Planning a session is one thing, but how do you get women to come up to your club? We used a strategy based on three main tools, which were all successful in different ways.

Good old word of mouth

We all made a conscious effort to mention our Get into golf sessions to whoever cared to listen. We have members who play football, tennis, hockey and we encouraged them to mention them to their sporty friends. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. This is how the majority of our participants heard about us. News travels incredibly fast!

Social media

We used social media, mostly Twitter and Facebook. I created a Facebook event, shared it through the club and my personal account and encouraged our members to share it to their networks. I also spent a whole £5 to boost our post as an experiment. Facebook offers some great tools and I targeted women between 30 and 60 who were into a range of physical activities.

Get into golf taster session Facebook event to grow the women's section at Brighton & Hove golf club

Targeted Facebook event

Facebook golf taster session event results to grow the women's section at Brighton & Hove golf club

Facebook engagement statistics

As you can see, a very small investment allowed the post to reach 621 people and got 9 responses. Four of the women who engaged with it came to the taster session. None of them signed to the Academy pack, but they gave us great feedback and I would be surprised if we didn’t see them again. Sometimes, the timing just isn’t right. Perhaps more importantly, they are now aware of us and whenever they decide the time is right to start golf, they’ll know where we are. Also, this raises awareness about Brighton & Hove being a club that welcomes beginners.

 

Tweet to advertise the golf taster session

Post-event tweet to advertise it further

We also used Twitter to share photos of the event and raise awareness.

A dedicated page on our website

At the beginning of the year, we revamped the Brighton & Hove Golf Club website and I created a page dedicated to our Get into golf taster session for women. It’s very simple, but it’s packed full of the right keywords and is very well ranked by Google. I’ve also made sure that our women’s section page stresses that we welcome beginners. The website turned out to be a great promotion tool as well: it brought us five of the 14 ladies who came to our most recent event.

The session

We had support from the county development officer of England golf and we also are lucky to have a sports development specialist in the section. We put a little team together to plan the two-hour session.

Putting practice at the golf taster session

Putting drills at the golf taster session

First hour

It was based on three activities (see the planning document at the bottom of the page):

  • 20 minutes on learning the basic mechanics of holding and swinging a club with Anthony, our pro
  • 20 minutes on putting games around the practice green
  • 20 minutes on chipping into an inflatable target

Second hour

We then wanted to put these three skills together on the course: hitting the ball into the green from a 100 yards, then putting out. We really wanted the beginners to experience what it’s like to be out on part of the course, enjoying the views, the walk and the satisfaction of getting the little white ball in the tiny hole.

In the four sessions that we’ve organised in the last 12 months, we’ve used a variation of this template to suit the weather and numbers. We made sure that a lot of the drills took the form of games. The feedback has been excellent, the participants indicating that it was a good mixture of fun and challenge.

Cake!

It seemed important to us to have the chance to chat with the participants not only during, but also after the sessions. That’s why I asked my army of bakers to produce some delicious goodies to enjoy once we’d put the clubs away. This was a great idea: it allowed us to relax and answer questions about the club, golf and how to progress. We also took that opportunity to give them leaflets about our Academy pack, which offers three months of golf (six rounds of 18 holes or twelve rounds of nine holes) and an individual lesson with our pro for £100.

Follow-up

First golf taster session

First golf taster session

When the participants arrived, we asked them to fill in a sheet giving their name, email address and where they heard about us. This is invaluable information, as it allows us to stay in touch with them and also to work out the most efficient ways of reaching out to them. A couple of days after the session, Lindsay emailed all the participants to thank them for coming and included the Academy pack flyer in the email. That’s it. No hard sale. We thought that providing all the information they needed if they wanted to carry on with golf was enough.

We made sure we gave the women who did sign up to the Academy pack two main points of contact (Lindsay and me). That way, they could easily find people to play with. We made sure enough members were available to take them out, show them the course and mark handicap cards if that’s what they wanted. We also encouraged them to sign up to our biweekly clinics with Anthony to improve their technique. And finally, we added them to our WhatsApp group to help them find playing partners.

Conclusion

All this support and follow-up has meant that the majority of women on the Academy pack have progressed to signing up for our one-year membership. We currently have 16 women on the Academy pack and 11 women on the introductory membership, which is an amazing boost for a section which was only 41 strong when we started. Considering that we were hoping for ten new members at the start, this is a great result. I feel like the later events were better, with more people taking up the Academy pack. Maybe we just learnt to run them more efficiently with experience.

Our golf taster sessions have been a key element of the whole strategy, but it’s not the only one. A regular presence on social media, where we celebrate the women’s section’s achievements, also helps to promote it. An awareness that our new members need support is also essential if we want them to enjoy golf and stay. To this end, we’ve organised regular group clinics to help them work on different areas of their game. We also make sure that they know they can join in our competition days even if they don’t put a card in. It’s certainly an involved, long-term endeavour, but it’s the only way to make sure the women’s section at Brighton & Hove continues to thrive. And that’s very important to me.

Please use the comments’ sections to tell me what your section does to attract new members. I’m always keen to learn more on the subject!

Resources

Get into golf taster session flyer

Academy Pack flyer

Get into golf taster session for women: course time

Get into golf taster session for women: putting, chipping, driving activities

My amazing eclectic competition workbook

My amazing eclectic competition workbook

An eclectic competition to encourage people to play over the winter

 

Eclectic competition to encourage Winter golf

Spot the ball

One of my goals as Captain is to encourage our members to play more. Of course, for most people, winter is a time when a round of golf slips down the list of priorities at the weekend. Who would want to go out on a windy, freezing hill wearing so many layers to avoid hypothermia that they can barely move their arms? A pub lunch and a snooze are so much more appealing. That’s why I had the idea of organising a 9 hole winter eclectic competition.

What is an eclectic competition?

The principle of an eclectic competition is brilliant: for every round you play, only the best score on each and every hole is kept. You end up with one eclectic card showing all your best scores for the rounds you played within the specified period. I made it so people could hand in 9 holes at a time to try and make it even more accessible. That way, Thundersnow-shy golfers as well as our older members who rarely play 18 holes could participate. I mentioned it to a few people at the club and they told me they used to have one. They had a whiteboard where they would keep their scores, which they would wipe off and change when they improved. I wasn’t surprised to hear that it got quite messy. Surely, there had to be a better way.

Stats and a new competition: it’s almost too much fun

Enter Excel, the program I love to hate, because as a translator, it’s the worst possible format to work in. However, a workbook seemed to me to be the high-tech version of the whiteboard. Plus, golf geeks like me would have the untold pleasure of finishing with a clear idea of where their strength and weaknesses lie in terms of the various holes on the course. I used to think the 11th was one of the easiest holes for me, but records reveal that I make par far less often than I thought. Never, in fact. I thought I was useless at par 3s (3rd, 6th and 8th); in fact, I’m not that bad. Anyway, enough about me. The benefits were many: giving members, old and young, a reason to go out and play golf, stats for the geeks and an extra competition that was longer and very different from the rest.

A user-friendly Excel workbook

All I needed for a ready-made eclectic workbook, because I don’t have the skills to build one myself. It was surprisingly hard to find one that suited my needs, but the Internet provided. It is called Excel Golf Scores Workbook and is provided by Contextures. It was an excellent starting point, but not exactly what I wanted, as it’s for a single user. I needed one worksheet per player feeding into a general results’ table for the competition. Thankfully we have many talented people in our section, so I asked one clever member to help me out (thank you Susannah). She built the bones of the file I needed, and I fleshed it out.

The result is a thing of beauty. Every player has a results’ worksheet. This is mine:

 

Each player’s result worksheet feeds into a table that gives the nett and gross scores as well as the number of 9 hole cards put in.

Eclectic competition result sheet

Et voilà! All you need to do is click the little arrow in the Nett column to end with a table for your competition.

The result? I’m not certain it did encourage people to go out in the awful weather we had this winter. However, people must have enjoyed it, as they were keen to have a Summer eclectic competition and many more have signed up for it. So I guess the eclectic competition is here to stay at Brighton and Hove!

 

How to use the Amazing eclectic competition workbook

Download my Amazing eclectic competition workbook.

Enter the course information

Start by entering the par for each hole in your golf course on the player’s sheet.

Course par

 

Create a worksheet per player

The method will vary according to your version of Excel, so there’s no point in me explaining how. I can help with Excel for Mac, but that’s about it!

Enter your scores

After each round, enter the date and your score for each hole. The pars will be coloured orange, and scores below par are bright green (see example above).

Player’s summary

The player’s summary at the top gives the best and average scores and the number of rounds played. There’s also a tally of your pars, bogeys, birdies, etc., for each hole. The most frequent type of score is highlighted for each hole.

Table

Enter the names of the players In the A column.

The B column needs to be populated with their gross score, so enter =REF!V10 in the formula bar, replacing “REF” with the name of the player’s worksheet (in this example, “LauraD“).

eclectic competition

Enter the player’s handicap in the C column manually (I couldn’t work out how to make it automatic, as handicaps change).

Column D is populated automatically.

Column E is for a competition where players are allowed to enter 9 hole cards. If you want to base your competition on 18 hole rounds, in every player’s sheet, click on cell C4 and delete “+L49” in the formula bar.

I’m very happy to help if any of this is unclear. Just fire me an email.