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Schoolgirl golfer picked to represent Wales

January 13th, 2016

Sophie1Given the media coverage, it’s not surprising that most people conjure up visions of immaculately dressed men when they think of golf.

But one gifted schoolgirl is hoping her driving ambition will help to putt the sport’s female champions into the spotlight.

Sophie, a pupil at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, has been a regular on the greens since she was just four-years-old.

Now the dedicated teenager – whose ability is on a par with her male counterparts at Monmouth School – has been selected to represent Wales in a prestigious competition.

Teamed with George Burnett, Tom Bevington and Will Austin from Monmouth School, Sophie, 16, will be travelling to Northern Ireland in February to compete in the Independent Schools Golf Association’s Home Internationals.

She and the boys will be representing Wales, playing at the internationally renowned Castlerock and Portstewart Golf Clubs, against the top golfing independent schools from England, Ireland and Scotland.

Sophie said: “Going to Ireland is going to be a really fantastic experience – it would be pretty cool to win.

“Playing with really good golfers, and seeing the level you can achieve if you put in the hours, gives me more determination to get better.

“My goal is to reach the best of my ability.

“The absolute, ultimate dream is to become a professional golfer. I certainly intend to pursue a career within the ever expanding golf industry.”

Sophie, whose handicap is nine, has been competing in tournaments since she joined South Wales Girls Golf Association when she was 10.

Now vice-captain of the organisation, she is set to take up captaincy next year.

“Both my parents play, so it was just natural for me to play golf,” Sophie, who golfs almost every day in the summer, added.

“I was four when they started taking me to the range and we’d play two or three holes on the course. I am not sure if it was the lure of the Coke and crisps or the golf, but from the start I was hooked.

“I was very lucky they took me – otherwise I’d never be able to do to what I do now.

“My parents are so supportive, they’re my taxi drivers making sure I get anywhere I need to go for competitions.”

With golf being so heavily dominated by men, Sophie would love female players to be treated equally in terms of wages and coverage.

“I would like to thank HMSG, as they have been really supportive.

“They let me play with the boys’ school every Tuesday at the Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club, and I practise with my coach on Wednesday afternoons.

“It’s good playing with the boys because it motivates me, and obviously I want to beat them.

“I would like to see coverage of ladies’ golf change.

“You often have to wait until about 11pm for women’s golf to be on TV. It’s annoying that we’re not on at peak times – we put in just as much training and it means just as much to us.

“It’s not just men who play golf, and maybe more junior girls would get involved if women had more exposure in the media.

“There’s a hashtag, thisgirlgolfs, which is helping to boost it.”

Last year, Sophie became one of 10 Welsh youngsters to form the National Youth Panel for golf.  As a golf young ambassador, she supports Golf Development Wales which aims to attract new junior players to the sport.

“We meet every few months to promote junior golf in Wales,” she said.

“We’re trying to get people hooked on golf from a young age and to increase the participation rate across all sections of society.

“I love it – it’s good exercise, it teaches you time management and you make so many friends through playing.”

Sophie’s achievements last year include being crowned runner up in the Welsh Girls’ U18 Plate, St Mellon’s Ladies Club Champion and she remains unbeaten on the Joint Schools’ Team HMSG team.

The ISGA Home Internationals takes place between February 20 and 22.

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