The first ever official golf tournament for beginner girl golfers in South Africa was held at Kloof Country Club on Sunday, 28 October. Known as the Ladybird Girlz Golf Championship, it is the brain-child of local golf teaching pro Christine Iliadis.
The tournament comprised two sections, one for beginner girl golfers without official golf handicaps and the other for junior girls with official handicaps.
"This is the first time junior, beginner girl golfers, who do not yet have handicaps, have been able to compete in a tournament within specific age categories, over nine holes, using special shortened tee boxes, which helps to level the playing fields," said Iliadis.
"The only prerequisites are that the girls must be between eight and eighteen years old and they must at least have received some form of golf instruction, they must know one end of a golf club from the other," she added.
A total of 47 girls competed in the tournament, 33 in the beginner category and 14 with official handicaps. The KwaZulu-Natal chapter of the South African Golf Development Board entered a contingent of 18 young golfers who were sponsored by the KwaZulu-Natal Ladies’ Golf Association.
The youngest entrant, eight year old Celiwe Biyela, was delighted to win her age group competition for girls between the ages of 8 and 10 with a score of 74 for the nine hole competition.
Other winners of the age group categories were Charlotte Benthom (65), 11 to 12 years, and Tatum Galway (64), 13 to 18 years. The overall winner was Aimee Tims with a score of 54 for the nine holes, with Megan Hood in second place on 59 and Stellone Treverton third on 60.
The winner of the handicapped section for junior girls with handicaps of 16 and lower, was Claudia Redinger, with a total of 45 stableford points. Sherry King came second with a score of 40 stableford points.
The winner of the division for girls with handicaps between 17 and 28 was Tammy Fletcher and Courtney James won the division for girls with handicaps between 29 and 36.
"The beauty of the tournament is that it introduces beginner girl golfers to tournament golf while allowing them to compete within their age groups and levels of competence," said Iliadis.
"Tournaments of this kind have been held overseas, but this is the first time such a tournament for junior girls has been held in South Africa," she added.
Iliadis is passionate about introducing young girls to golf and is committed to promoting ladies golf at all levels. She has run a website dedicated to women’s golf for the past ten years. She says she intends organising another Ladybird championship in KwaZulu-Natal in the first half of next year and then hopes to roll them out in the other provinces.
If you are interested in participating in a Ladybird championship, or would like more information on sponsorship opportunities, Christine Iliadis can be contacted on her cell 0824513395, via email [email protected], or through her Women’s Golf website.