When Golf Australia unveiled its ‘Vision 2025’ strategy in 2018 to embed more women into leadership positions throughout golf and to encourage greater female participation, Claire Elvidge took the responsibility personally.
A PGA Professional who completed the PGA Trainee Program (now the Membership Pathway Program) under Dale Wharton, Elvidge did not see Vision 2025 as an opportunity but more as an obligation to be at the forefront of providing women new to the game with a positive experience.
Currently splitting her coaching time between Wembley Golf Course in Perth and Cottesloe Golf Club on the coast, Elvidge now devotes 95 per cent of her teaching time to women, whether in a group setting or one-on-one.
“We have women coming to golf who could go to tennis, they could go to pilates or play lawn bowls so I’ve got to make sure that they really enjoy this one lesson so they come back,” Elvidge says.
“I came to Cottesloe with the idea to start teaching these women to use the bigger muscle groups that they can create and rely on in the golf swing.
“That approach has been very successful. They’re coming back to the game and they’re enjoying the elevation we get from the extra power by using the bigger muscles.
“I’ve adapted my teaching for women from the core, and really from the trunk rotating set of muscles. I don’t concentrate so much on the upper body in the early stages and it’s been really good to see women deriving their energy from that point.”
Chasing her dream of becoming a professional tennis player, it was an injury as a teenager that led Elvidge to take up golf in the first place.
Her father was an avid golfer and after a couple of trips around Mount Lawley Golf Club as his caddie became fascinated by the range of emotions the game would elicit within her dad. Transferring her work ethic from the tennis court to the golf course, Elvidge soon played her way into WA state teams and in 1989 was offered a position in the PGA Trainee Program with Dale Wharton at Royal Fremantle Golf Club.
Rather than going straight into teaching, Elvidge’s career diverted slightly to establish an inbound golf tourism company from Asia into Perth and then serving as general manager at Jagorawi Golf and Country Club, a Thomson-Wolveridge-Perrett design in Indonesia. After returning to Perth, Elvidge resumed her coaching career at Wembley and Cottesloe but it was a visit by Golf Australia’s female engagement senior manager Chyloe Kurdas that narrowed her focus again.
“I made a decision in 2019 to dedicate 95 per cent of my teaching to female participation,” Elvidge says.
“Whether it’s older women, young women, girls, I go from four to 80. And to a certain extent, I really put my energy into that for the 2025 vision.
“It’s just amazing how important it is because we know if the women get here, the juniors get here and there were only 12 per cent at that time playing when they are 50 per cent of the population.”
Drawing on her own experience, Elvidge has targeted beginner golfers of late and adopted a methodology that communicates the concepts of golf and the swing in simple terminology that is easy to digest.
“Communication wise, my teaching at the moment is programmed to fully explain the concept of the sport,” she adds.
“In the first lesson I get them to understand what we are trying to achieve, highlighting aspects such as not having to hit the ball hard to get it airborne and that golf is a non-dominant hand sport to build that basic understanding of the golf swing.
“I’ve really pinpointed my teaching to more beginners, more intermediate women and getting them on the golf course.
“That’s been a great program at Wembley, to develop a really succinct pathway and show these women exactly where we’re going on their journey in golf.” – Tony Webeck
• All PGA Professionals receive extensive training in inclusive golf coaching methods, including the effective coaching of female golfers of all ages and abilities. Visit your local PGA Professional for all your game improvement needs or connect with a PGA Professional at pga.org.au/find-a-PGA-pro/