Berkhamsted’s women have gone golf-mad – and it’s all because of the golf club on the common at the top of the hill.
Twice a week, on Monday mornings and Saturday afternoons, a group gathers at Berkhamsted Golf Club under the kindly eyes of PGA Professional golf instructors John Clarke and Joe Biggs.
Most are total newcomers to the game, and the lessons are free, as they are subsidised by the golf club itself.
Some say for the social life. Others for mental well-being, and still more for what the fresh air and exercise does for your body. And everybody can agree – the 10,000+ steps needed to complete a round of golf, and the 1,000+ calories which it burns off, are numbers which we are all happy to get behind these days!
John Clarke has been helping women to take their first steps in golf for over twenty years, and Joe Biggs has made a huge impact on the club since joining as Head Professional in the summer of 2021.
‘A group of women who are complete beginners is the best-possible group to teach,’ said Biggs. ‘They have no existing bad habits; they simply want to get started, and get better.’
The Ladies Academy at Berkhamsted Golf Club, is currently running at over two dozen learners and is run by the club’s ladies’ section.
With social events and a buddy system designed to make newcomers as comfortable as possible about ‘becoming a golfer’, the Academy is designed to make the learning experience as un-intimidating as possible. And as people improve, it organises fun competitions and access to the golf course itself – which people can then join as full members once they reach a certain standard of play.
But there’s no hurry
Berkhamsted is one of the country’s most progressive golf clubs when it comes to encouraging women to take up golf. It recently signed up to the national Women In Golf Charter, created by the sport’s rules-makers the R&A, and in April 2022 the club’s world-renowned Berkhamsted Trophy tournament for elite golfers welcomed female competitors for the first time – an unprecedented step forward for top-level amateur golf.
Counted among England’s top 100 golf courses, the golf club which for well over a century has been the custodian of the public land on Berkhamsted Common is also one of the most beautiful places in Hertfordshire to spend some time.
‘Come and join us for a coffee and a chat any time,’ said the club’s Lady Captain Fiona Foy. ‘We’re exploding as many of the myths about golf as we can. It’s a friendly sport, very accessible these days, and most of all it’s fun and very rewarding!’