Only ever knowing golf as a sport played by Dad’s, standing at just 105cm and at age five, Summer Dellow was eager to buck this trend and get on-course.
For Summer Dellow, The Australian Golf Foundation (AGF) has provided an opportunity to connect with girls her age – a key strategy to retain girls in golf.
Golf has traditionally been a lonely sport for girls, especially teenage girls. The cry from many young golfers “I am the only girl”, echoes true across fairways throughout Australian golf clubs.
At such a critical time in their young lives when girls are seeking acceptance and connection with their peers, being able to ‘see’ other girls playing is a key retention indicator within this cohort.
The Australian Golf Foundation (AGF) Junior Girls Golf Scholarship program brings girls together to nurture a love for the game and foster friendships.
Twelve-year-old Summer Dellow of Darwin Golf Club is one such girl. Thanks to the Australian Golf Foundation, Summer has made friends with other girls playing the game and therefore increased her probability of staying within the sport.
“Before the scholarship, I felt left out, especially when I went to tournaments, as there were few girls. And of the girls there, all of them were older,” she explained.
Beginning her golf journey at the age of five, Summer has loved the sport from the moment she began – with or without girls. However, one of her favourite aspects of the scholarship program has been, “meeting other girls my age who play”. And it seems Summer is not alone. Our 2021 scholarship recipients rated ‘meeting other girls my own age’ as one of the most important aspects of the program.
Four years after starting golf, at age nine, Summer started playing competitions. This early and quick advancement was due to the support and encouragement of her father, Paul, an avid golfer.
When Summer joined the scholarship program at the start of 2021, she was 11 years old and had a 37 handicap. Her goal was to drop this to 29 by December yet she achieved this by August, thanks to the ongoing professional tuition the AGF scholarship program provides. A further 10 months on and Summer, now aged 12 plays to a 16 handicap.
An impressive feat says PGA Professional, Robert Dehne of Darwin Golf Club. “To be so young and still quite tiny in stature, it is amazing what Summer is achieving both on and off the golf course.”
In addition to the opportunities to meet other girls who play, as well as the weekly professional tuition over the course of the year, the scholarship participants are also developing essential life skills.
The Junior Girls Scholarship Program operates as a bonafide scholarship program whereby each potential candidate must apply and be interviewed. Once accepted into the program the girls are asked to wear their uniforms with pride, attend their weekly lessons, and celebrate their graduation with their families at the end of the year.
All these golf related experiences help to build confidence, self-esteem, etiquette, respect, patience and skills to communicate and socialise with not only peers, but club members of all ages.
“Summer’s confidence blossomed as she was the first to obtain her handicap and became a great role model for the other girls. She is extremely driven and is out practicing four to five times per week, and is proud of her achievements,” says an equally proud Dehne.
Summer’s father, Paul Dellow is grateful for the positive role models the intergenerational friendships has created for his daughter.
“Through golf, Summer has made some fantastic friends her age, but it is also great to see the relationships she is developing with older members at the club. I have enjoyed watching her develop the confidence and capability to now play with other adults in club competitions, not just myself.”
Summer’s growth continues to flourish. She was recently selected to represent Darwin Golf Club in women’s pennant and is also a part of Golf NT’s Junior Emerging Talent program (JET) alongside fellow scholarship recipient, Allegra Di Somma.
“Now with Allegra and the other three girls from my scholarship year, I have girls my age to play and compete with,” she said. “This makes the long travel to places where I don’t know, more bearable.
“My aim is to drop to a 13 handicap by the end of the year, and by the start of next year shoot below my personal best of 85 off the stick.
“Thank you to the Australian Golf Foundation for my scholarship year. I improved my golf a lot through coaching and have made some really great friends.”
Applications are open until 8 November, however priority will be given to applications that come in earlier. Visit Australian Golf Foundation website for further information and to apply.
The scholarship program has come to fruition thanks to the foresight and generosity of Bonnie Boezeman AO, Director of the Australian Golf Foundation, who originally established the program at Killara Golf Club, NSW.
Australian Golf Foundation is the national foundation for golf in Australia. The AGF supports Golf Australia’s vision to grow golf by investing in targeted initiatives to inspire all Australians to enjoy and play the game. Visit australiangolffoundation.org.au for further information.
Australian Golf Foundation is thrilled to partner with NEXTGEN Group as the principal partner of the AGF Scholarship Programme in 2022, with significant further support provided by Golf Australia, Golf Victoria, Victorian Golf Foundation, Golf Queensland, Golf South Australia, Golf Tasmania, Golf Western Australia, Western Australian Golf Foundation, Golf Northern Territory, Jack Newton Junior Golf, Golf Management Australia, WPGA Tour of Australasia and PGA of Australia, as well as a number of additional generous private benefactors.