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Introducing WGSA President Sally Greasley

12 May 2017

WGSA President Sally Greasley (left) with outgoing president Karen Olivant and new vice-president Sarah Braude; credit WGSA.
At the recent Sanlam SA Women's Stroke Play Championship, Sally Greasley took over the mantle as Womens Golf South Africa's new president from Karen Olivant.
We asked Sally to talk to us about her passion for golf and the administration thereof and her thoughts on the current state of the game in South Africa.

TAKE US BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN GOLF ADMINISTRATION AND THE JOURNEY THAT LANDED YOU AT THE HELM OF WOMENS GOLF SOUTH AFRICA.

After getting a handicap at Harewood Downs Golf Club in Buckinghamshire, I was soon roped into assisting to organise various events for my home club. Even in those days, it was hard to find people to serve on committees, but I always found “no” an unacceptable response.

So I joined my club committee as a general dogsbody and moved up the ladder to Lady Secretary, Vice-Captain and Captain. As captain, I sat on the Buckinghamshire County Ladies Golf Committee and at the end of my two years as Captain, I became fully involved with the committee and my main focus was Junior Development.  We had a strong contingent of up-and-coming juniors and several went on to represent England at an amateur level.

I left the United Kingdom in 2001 and lived in the United States for four years where I just enjoyed playing golf.  My sister had retired to Port Alfred from Johannesburg and I joined her in Port Alfred in 2006. She didn’t play golf and I didn’t know anyone, so I joined Royal Port Alfred Golf Club.

I played league, the Eastern Province Championship and the Eastern Province / Border Championship and, as a result, met many members of the Eastern Province Ladies Committee.  I was sitting on a cart at St Francis Golf Club and asked then President of Eastern Province Women’s Golf Myrlene Pieterse how I could get involved with provincial golf. No sooner was the question asked than I was seconded onto the committee and the rest is history!

DO YOU FORESEE ANY DUTIES AS PRESIDENT THAT YOU MIGHT NOT ENJOY?
Not really, although I must admit that I am not particularly fond of public speaking so the prospect of having to do interviews to camera makes me very nervous! 

WHAT GOALS HAVE YOU SET YOURSELF AS YOUR TENURE AS PRESIDENT BEGINS?
I consider myself extremely lucky as I follow a dedicated and hard-working group of past presidents who raised the profile of Womens Golf South Africa to what it is today. I am very aware of the challenging times ahead and I do not take the responsibility lightly. It is an honour and a privilege to serve women’s amateur golf and I look forward to working closely with the provincial presidents to achieve all our goals.

I believe my mandate is to ensure that each and every golfer is able to achieve what they want from the game. Whether someone just wants to play socially – in which case I need to ensure through the provincial presidents that clubs are providing enough competitions, league games and social events to keep them playing as happy members – or the ranked players, whom we need to assist to help them reach their full potential by providing excellent coaching, psychological assistance, fitness and nutrition instruction and the opportunity to test their skills against players around the world.

GIVEN THE MERGER BETWEEN THE GOVERNING BODIES FOR WOMEN'S AND MEN'S AMATEUR GOLF UNDER THE GOLFRSA BANNER, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MOST IMPORTANT GOALS MOVING FORWARD?
Our affiliated members are the backbone of each and every club.  They pay their affiliation fees each year and I believe they receive little in return. I see giving these everyday players something in return as the most important goal for Womens Golf South Africa and the South African Golf Association going forward.

IT IS NO SECRET THAT MANY GOLF CLUBS ARE STRUGGLING FOR SURVIVAL. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DO YOU SEE GOLFRSA, WGSA AND THE SAGA BEING ABLE TO ASSIST IN MARKETING THE GAME TO A WIDER AUDIENCE AND HOW CAN THIS BE ACHIEVED?
It is imperative that we continue to support golf clubs with new ideas, new competitions and new membership programmes to assist them in growing their numbers. Falling membership is a worldwide phenomenon, but it is interesting to note that the fastest growing section is among women.

It is very important that we find out who these women are, what they want from their clubs and if they are not joining as members, but having only the occasional social game, how we can bring them into the fold.  GolfRSA is working on several innovative ideas to reach the wider audience and to persuade the non-golfers out there that golf is a game for life – one of the only sports that you can continue to play well into your later years, unlike rugby, cricket, football, running or cycling!

YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL QUITE A BIT DURING YOUR TENURE. IS THIS SOMETHING YOU ENJOY?
I was brought up in South America and the West Indies and have been travelling since I was very young. My parents instilled in me a love of adventure and an incessant interest in how other people live, so travel has always been high on my list of favourite activities. 

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MOST IMPORTANT SHORT AND MEDIUM GOALS FOR WOMEN'S AMATEUR GOLF GOING FORWARD?
As above, we must stop the leakage of membership. We must find ways to keep players enjoying the game, even it is means cutting down on the time it takes to play. Encouraging clubs to offer nine or seven holes or Nine and Wine events is one way of making golf more family friendly. 

This is not a short term goal.  At the same time Womens Golf South Africa must continue to find new talent among the up-and-coming young golfers. We must provide them with all the facilities they require to achieve their personal goals and to raise the bar so they are able to compete on a level playing field with top amateur golfers around the world.

HOW EXACTLY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN GOLF AND WHAT IS YOUR GAME LIKE THESE DAYS?
I took up the game in my 30s. At the time I was chairman of my local squash and tennis club, mainly because no-one else would do the job and I like to see things being run efficiently and professionally.

I was married at the time and my husband had been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis. He was told to give up squash and running and to take up walking. So I bought him a bag and a trolley (he had to buy the clubs) and soon playing golf as often as time allowed.

I found that I was a golf widow, so I decided to take up the game myself and became totally hooked.  I joined a “bunny group” at a local pay-as-you-play course and progressed very quickly from a 36 handicap down to single figures. I joined Harewood Downs and soon I was competing in leagues and local competitions. It was a proud moment when I was chosen to play for Buckinghamshire County.

I also represented my club in the United States, but mostly I enjoyed travelling the country and playing the superb courses that you only ever get to see on TV.  I arrived in Port Alfred in 2006 on a five handicap and have steadily progressed downhill and am now playing off a 15!

I have travelled all over the world with my golf clubs – it is a wonderful way to meet new people and I have always found even as a single woman wanting a game of golf in some faraway place, you are always warmly welcomed.

Introducing GolfRSA

Womens Golf South Africa and the South African Golf Association (Men) have joined forces to form GolfRSA, a new unified company that will professionally administer the commercial interests and golf operations of amateur golf in South Africa.

Look out for the new GolfRSA website coming soon.

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