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One hundred years ago, in 1918, some women in Great Britain and Ireland were given the vote – the rest of us, in Britain anyway, had to wait until 1928.  There’s been lots of celebrating of the suffragettes (and suffragists) whose tireless campaigning and refusal to accept no for an answer helped effect the changes that we now take for granted.  But we relax at our peril:  as the man said and women should never forget, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

One day, perhaps, it’ll not be the least bit remarkable that a woman is prime minister, or president, or pope, or chief constable, or editor of The Times (if papers still exist) or archbishop of Canterbury, or head of the Bank of Wherever, or, even, captain of the R&A, or Royal Troon, or Muirfield (but not Portmarnock).  In the meantime, we can rejoice in the fact that, in 2018, for the first time, the captain of the PGA in Ireland is a woman.

Alan White presenting Gillian Burrell with her Advanced Fellow award

In 2005, Beverly Lewis, a woman of Essex, became the first woman to be captain of the PGA, founded in 1901 and now Gillian Burrell, a woman of Athy, is to be the PGA’s head honcho in Ireland, hooray.  Better late than never.

Gillian is a teacher to her toes – or a coach if you prefer.  The best coaches are proper teachers, real enthusiasts for the game and, particularly, for learning, educating, passing on what they know; they never stop.  Gillian is now an Advanced Fellow of the PGA and she teaches coaches to teach as well as players of all ages and stages to play.  Look at the pictures of her in action and her passion and enthusiasm leap off the page or screen.

Like everyone else, PGA pros have to be creative and re-invent themselves to cope with change, especially in challenging economic times when golf is seen by many as a luxury.  “I’m encouraged to see PGA professionals working as directors of golf, in golf marketing and in golf travel,” Gillian said.  “I want to promote the work of PGA professionals as I go around the country.  There are opportunities out there but it does require some thinking outside of the box.”

Gillian in her element, giving it heart and soul, holding nothing back.

It’s just lateral thinking, isn’t it, thinking outside the box.  We all have to do it, surely, as the world swirls on around us.  It’s how we solve problems, adapt to changing circumstances and cope with how the world works now.  If we want to hunker down in our bunker, stand still and disengage from life, give up the fight, well, we have to stop breathing.  Or go to bed.  All the research shows that a good night’s sleep can change everything.

Over in America, the LPGA and the Executive Women’s Golf Association have combined to launch the LPGA Women’s Network, which, as I understand it, is keen to encourage more women and girls to play golf.  It’s all very well introducing people to the game but the trick is to keep them interested, to ensure that they have places to play on a regular basis, where they feel welcome and at ease.

I’ve been playing for more than 50 years and it took me a very long time to realise that, as a woman, I wasn’t really meant to be playing at all…Mind you, despite Maureen’s best efforts, you might wonder what on earth I’ve really been playing at for the last 50 years.  More lessons and more dedication are on the bucket list.

Pat Bradley, US Women’s Open champion in 1981, capturing the new US Senior Women’s Open trophy for posterity [USGA]

The men have had their very lucrative additional pension fund, aka the Seniors/Legends/Champions Tours, for quite a few years now but there’s been a dearth of competition for older women.  Now the USGA, which is keen on even-handedness and equality, has introduced the US Senior Women’s Open for the over-50s.  Dame Laura Davies is on the list to compete in the inaugural championship at Chicago Golf Club, one of the oldest clubs in America, from July 12-15, the week before the Open Championship at Carnoustie.  Think it’s probably come a bit too late for me.

 

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