As Womens and Girls’ Golf Week draws to a close we look at what golf can bring to a person in terms of experience and inclusion. Golf is a game for all, and whether you enjoy the competition, social aspect or both, it can cater for everyone from age 4 to 104.
For fourteen-year-old Annabel Greham from Ballina, the competitive aspect of golf is what excites her and although she only began playing in 2014, she has already represented Connacht twice and has progressed to playing in different championships and tournaments – travelling around the country in the process.
When did you first start playing golf? How did you get involved?
During a visit with my family to Ballina Golf Club, I spotted a poster advertising junior golf lessons with the Professional Eddie Tracey. I decided to give it a go and a few months later the Junior Golf Programme was formed there and I was even made Junior Captain shortly afterwards! My Dad has encouraged me since taking up the game, he helps me a lot. My Mam travels around with me to Championships too so it’s a family thing!
Did you play any other sports?
I played as a goal keeper in soccer for my local club and progressed to the mayo team – I have taken a step back from football now to focus on golf but still enjoy the odd kick about!
How many championships have you played in this year?
This year I played in the Carlow and Lahinch Scratch Cups, the Irish Women’s Close in Enniscrone, the Connacht Women’s and Girls’ Championships in Ballinrobe, the Leinster Girls’ in Lucan and the Irish Girls Close Championship in Clandeboye. I also played for Connacht in the Girls Interprovincials.
Which has been your favourite?
My favourite experience this year was representing Connacht at the Interpro’s in Castle Dargan. It was an honour to represent my Province and to play alongside some of the best girls in Ireland. Although, I also won the Connacht U16 Girls’ so that one is up there too!
What is the best thing about playing in championships?
The best thing about is playing some amazing courses and meeting other girls from around Ireland – we get to see all parts of the country!
What have you learnt from playing in championships?
As this was my first year competing in a full schedule of championships I have learnt a lot. I now know the importance of course management, patience and I have a new drive to improve my game. I am a member of two courses, one parkland and one links [Enniscrone] so being able to practice on both is very helpful.
Have you any goals for 2019 championships?
My main goal next year is to qualify for the matchplay stages or make the cut in each of the championships I play in, I’d like carry through what I have learnt from my experiences this year.
You played in your first Irish Girls Close Championship this year, what was that experience like?
The Irish Girls’ Close was a great experience for me, I realised that every shot counts in qualifying, so I had to keep trying. It was touch and go if I would qualify for the Matchplay – I was waiting until the last player came in but then found out that I had qualified in 32nd place and was drawn to play Anna Foster in the 1st round of match play.
Anna has won the Leinster Girls’ and is now on the Irish Girls Team and although I lost on the 17th, I was very pleased with my performance and it was a great opportunity and experience to play against her. You really need to be on top of your game for these championships.
What female players have you watched play who have inspired you?
During my practice round at the Carlow Scratch Cup, I happened to end up playing alongside Lauren Walsh. I found her very calming to be around and had the opportunity to observe how she prepares herself for the tournament. Seeing Lauren represent Ireland has given me the determination to work hard on my game and the inspiration to bring my golf to the next level – someday I would like to represent Ireland too with my dream job to be a PGA Professional and teach young kids to play.
With six National Championships, District Championships for specific handicap categories and countless other tournaments, there are no shortage of events to get involved in to curb your competitive appetite. Keep an eye out on golfnet.ie/tournamentsfor more.