The number of women and girls playing golf has soared as a result of the pandemic. Heather Mulley, general manager at Enville and GCMA Manager of the Year, explains how the sport can capitalise on this opportunity... The certificate has pride of place on the wall – alongside press cuttings, photos and a letter from the R&A’s chief executive Martin Slumbers. No one was more surprised than Heather Mulley when she was named GCMA Manager of the Year back in November 2019, and there’s a big smile that still beams at the mere mention of that achievement. It seems a long time ago that the Enville general manager’s image shone through the video screen and the memories of her father – and his strong links to the Staffordshire club – left few dry eyes in the room at De Vere Cotswold Water Park. Heather had been thrilled to be nominated, astonished to be shortlisted, and so convinced the prize would go elsewhere she didn’t reschedule a holiday to Dubai. Then she won, and a two-year ambassadorship, a traditional path for the victor at the Golf Club Management Awards, awaited. “It confirmed to me that I was capable of doing anything,” she remembers. “And to win the award was just amazing. “It made a huge difference to me and I worked really hard for it.” What is it they say about best laid plans? The world is now very different following a pandemic that has marked all of us in some way. Covid forced everyone in golf to turn inwards, focusing firstly on health and then on getting clubs through the crisis. But as we start to come out of the other end of a near 18-month challenge it’s worth remembering why Heather won the award and the opportunity that the work she is doing presents other clubs. Because the participation boom which stunned an industry after the first lockdown threw up a hugely encouraging element. Following years of struggling to get women and girls to embrace the game as a collective, figures showed that 25% of female golfers in 2020 were new to the sport – and tried it for the first time because of the pandemic. Enville were ahead of their time. One of the first signatories to the R&A’s Women in Golf Charter (hence the letter from Slumbers on the wall), the club had become well known for staging high-profile tournaments for women and girls. The English Women’s Senior, along with the R&A Girls’ British Open Amateur Championship, will be followed this October by the first of a three-year stint as the host of the R&A’s Girls’ U16 Amateur. Girls Golf Rocks has always been successful at Enville, as have taster schemes and various other participation drives. So there are few better than Heather to talk about how to capitalise on the opportunity coronavirus has presented. “We’re running our latest academy and we’re keeping up those initiatives,” she says. “It’s about plugging away. “We [recently] converted our academy...
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