Bennett bidding to swap mocktails for bubbly in pursuit of golfing greatness

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Bennett, 26, hopes to go from coach to professional as she embarks on a thrilling golfing journey
Bennett, 26, hopes to go from coach to professional as she embarks on a thrilling golfing journey

English golfer Nicola Bennett wants to put the mocktails away and start popping bottles of champagne as she bids to go from coach to tour professional, writes Josh Graham.

The 26-year-old is hoping to transition from a coaching pro at Bush Hill Park Golf Club in Enfield into a serious elite player.

And that means instead of serving her group of regular female pupils non-alcoholic refreshments before their lesson, Bennett is hoping to toast her own individual success in the professional arena, perhaps with a glass of bubbly or two.

“My ladies love Motown and so do I, so we listen to Motown music when we play golf,” said Bennett, a new HSBC Golf Roots programme Ambassador, helping introduce the next generation to golf and inspiring kids from all backgrounds so that they too can believe they have a future in golf.

“They get mocktails in the morning with ice when they come for their lessons on a Tuesday, Friday or a Saturday.

“The sessions are made super fun, there is a lot of colour and creativity going on.

“I’ve been coaching for a long, long time now. I’m sort of transitioning into a playing pro this year. I did think it would happen a long time ago but there were so many different trials and errors along the way.

“But I wouldn’t change my journey for the world because it has definitely helped me build my adversity muscles and make me who I am.”

Bennett unearthed a natural talent for the game after being introduced to the sport by her dad who was inspired by Tiger Woods.

She was already representing England just one year after taking up golf properly aged ten and incredibly was playing off six by the age of 13, without having had any formal lessons.

“Tiger Woods was my biggest inspiration in golf, without a doubt,” Bennett added.

Bennett discovered golf through her dad - who was inspired by 15-time major winner Tiger Woods
Bennett discovered golf through her dad - who was inspired by 15-time major winner Tiger Woods

“It was really nice seeing him play golf, leading and competing. His composure that he had at the time really inspired me and made me want to compete.

“Having Tiger Woods as a black man was inspiring and I felt connected to it as a black woman, to see [him excelling].”

While speaking at a Golf Foundation HSBC Golf Roots session for kids in Dagenham, Hertfordshire girl Bennett revealed she has several role models from the women’s game as she sets her sights on one day teeing it up at The Open.

“Paula Creamer was massive [for me] and Annika Sorenstam - I’m very old school and old fashioned.

“More recently, Lexi Thompson really inspires me - I love her strength and the way she carries herself around the golf course. Players like that I can really resonate with.

“And Natalie Gulbis, I loved her fashion and still do now.”

Bennett is a big believer in expressing yourself on the course, both in how you play and what you wear.

Bennett is a fervent advocate of expressing yourself - both on and off the golfcourse
Bennett is a fervent advocate of expressing yourself - both on and off the golfcourse

And she is keen to show young girls that perceived obstacles to taking up the sport, like cost and strict dress codes, are no longer hurdles to participation.

She said: “I absolutely think barriers are getting kicked down each day.

“Especially in the women’s game, there’s not really much of a dress code at all anymore which is really important.

“When the women come for coaching with me, I tell them if they want to wear flip-flops, ‘wear flip-flops, there’s no dress code. Wear whatever’s comfortable'.

“It’s very affordable as well, they are given golf clubs - they don’t need to worry about that expense, and I think it’s really important for it to be like that in those golf environments.”

Find out where your nearest Golf Roots centre is - https://www.golf-foundation.org/clubs/hsbc-golf-roots-centres/

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