I have a very appealing diary for the next three months or so. In ten days I’m off to Augusta for the Masters; then in the middle of May I fly to New York for the PGA; mid-June brings more air travel all the way to the west coast of America and glorious Pebble Beach for the US Open; finally, in July, only a little hop across the Irish sea is required to go to Portrush for the Open. It’s major season, after all, and I’m very fortunate to get a front row view of those at the very pinnacle of the game.
Last week I was in a very different arena but was no less fortunate. I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the Diamond Jubilee celebration dinner of the Liverpool Society of Lady Golf Captains.
While these ladies would readily agree they are not at the pinnacle of our sport, I would argue that they and their society, and their ilk, are, indeed, the very bedrock of golf. Back in 1959 the idea of a society for clubs in South West Lancashire was mooted and, not wishing to be outdone by the men captains who had already formed their own Liverpool Society, the women embraced the concept and wasted no time in getting organised. The early correspondence between the clubs makes for fascinating reading and the alacrity with which a special meeting was organised at the Bradford Hotel in Liverpool was testament to their determination to get going. Today there are 21 member clubs and with the first 60 years under their belts the LSLGC can lay claim to being the oldest female golf society in the country, outside of London.
This year’s captain of the society is Jackie Bickerstaffe from The West Lancashire Golf Club, a course to test all of your skills, if ever there was one. With the help of her able committee all arrangements went well, with perhaps her trickiest moment, I suspect, being the choice of venue for the dinner. It was very important to the members of the society to have an iconic venue in the city after which they are named and Evertonian Jackie did an admirable job in sanctioning the choice of “The Beautiful Game Suite” at Liverpool Football Club! Being a supporter, myself, of a red team from another city not a million miles away, I had never visited Anfield before and wasn’t sure what to expect. It was the perfect venue. The huge European Cup was on display and readily carried around the tables so anyone who wanted to have their picture taken with it could do so. And an amazing number of the 297 women present did just that. A whole wall of windows looks down on to the fabled pitch and it was quite sobering to consider all the famous players who had performed there down the years and been connected with the club.
The aims and objects of the LSLGC were clearly stated in the Society’s first rules and they remain the same today. They include doing everything in the best interests of the members’ clubs and the game of golf in general, and an integral part of the society is the annual organisation of several competitions and social get-togethers. It was so apparent to me at this joyful gathering just how much golf has enhanced the lives of everyone present and how keen they all are to spread the word to others. There was a willingness to be inclusive and I left that evening feeling more positive about the future of the game than I have in a while. Yes, it’s marvellous to swan off to the majors, but if all professional golf tours and players ceased to exist tomorrow the game would still survive. They are only the tip of the iceberg. If, however, clubs and societies of the nature of the LSLGC, ceased to exist, we, and by “we” I mean golf, would be in real trouble. The game would eventually wither and die altogether, not a pleasant prospect.
My speech was generously received, but it is I who should really be thanking the LSLGC. Thank you for reconnecting me to “proper” golf and golfers and reminding me what’s really important in the game.
Footnote. A huge thank you to Ray Farley of Raymond Farley Photography for all the photographs.