Tuesday, March 29, 2016

 Royal Norwich appoint women as club 

  president and club captain

Royal Norwich Golf Club have led the way to dispelling inequality in golf, simultaneously appointing women as both their Club President and Club Captain this year. 
Backed by the Ladies Captain, Janet Clare, and female Junior Captain, Jasmine Campbell, this positive move demonstrates the Club’s un-paralleled commitment to increasing female participation in the game.
This move has come at a time when nationally the number of people who play golf once a month continues to slide (Sport England Active People Survey), particularly amongst the female population. Golf has historically been considered a gentleman’s game, something which Clubs have been working hard to overcome, with female only initiatives and national campaigns driven by England Golf.
Royal Norwich has a very successful Junior Scholarship programme, where girls make up over 30% of the overall members. The scholarship has produced a female England Schools Champion (Hope Neild) and successful current County player (Chloe Gibbs). Both of these girls played in the winning Gillieson Cup Team, which is Norfolk’s premier Ladies Team Competition.
Over the years the Scholarship has retained and grown the amount of female members. The Club invests a considerable amount of time and finances in the development of the Scholarship and the girls involved, some of whom then become members of the Ladies section. This is part of their overall strategy to grow the female membership of the club. Royal Norwich also hold Girls Golf Rocks sessions, a national initiative developed by England Golf to recruit new female entrants to the game.
Lauren Spray, the England Golf Women and Girls’ Participation Manager, commented: “This is very good news which helps to break down barriers and dispel perceptions about the game. Golf is a friendly, welcoming sport and a game for all. Congratulations to Royal Norwich and its officials.”
Royal Norwich’s appointments also coincide with the R&A and LGU’s recent decision to merge. An announcement was made in February 2015 that a potential merger between the LGU and The R&A was under consideration. Since then discussions have taken place between the respective Boards and the LGU’s shareholders - England Golf, Scottish Golf, the Golf Union of Wales and the Irish Ladies Golfing Union - and there has been unanimous support for the proposal.
Angela Loveday, who has been a member of Royal Norwich for almost 14 years, will be the first woman club captain in Norfolk, but her appointment will be quickly followed by at least two other county clubs which have women vice-captains.
“It’s the beginning of a wave,” said Angela. “The golf environment is changing so rapidly and these roles are becoming genderless, open to anyone on their merit.”
She went on: “Young people of both genders come together socially and in sport much more comfortably than they did in previous years. I applaud this and would like to develop this across our golf club.
“The inclusivity of family friendly golf with ladies, gents, mothers and fathers, grandparents and children having a good time together is part of our vision for the future.”
She has been on the club’s general committee for eight years, holding key roles including close involvement in the club’s planned relocation within the county. She has also held posts within the ladies’ section and on the county handicapping committee. Angela is a Level 1 coach and has helped the club professional with junior activities.
Incoming president Cherry Bishop has been a club member for 24 years and also holds a key role in the relocation project. She has been ladies' secretary and captain.
Junior captain Jasmine Campbell, who plays off four, has been the Norfolk girls’ champion for the last two years and is a past winner of the Abraham Trophy, which is awarded to England’s most improved girl golfer. She is a four handicapper.
Janet Clare has been a member at Royal Norwich for about 40 years and is taking on her second term as ladies’ captain. She has also been ladies’ president and the Norfolk county second team captain.
Phil Grice, General Manager said:
“We have appointed the best people for these roles regardless of sex, and it is a shame in some respect that this is considered ground breaking. It’s a sad reflection on the sport that we love. We hope that other Clubs whilst respecting their heritage also look forward with an open mind in terms of equality and developing our sport”.
This is an exciting time with Royal Norwich’s relocation to the current Weston Park Golf Club site well underway. Detailed planning work for the redesigned course at Weston Park has been managed by European Golf Design’s Ross McMurray. 
Emily Barnston from Feildon and Mawson Architects together with Richard Utting of Richard Utting Associates have also been working on the clubhouse design and additional facilities for golfers and their families.

If planning permission is granted it will take approximately two years to construct and “grow in” the new course at Weston Park. Until that point Royal Norwich will carry on playing 18 holes at the Hellesdon site. That means, even if there are no planning delays, it will continue to be the club’s home until at least the end of 2018