Published: 06:00, 29 May 2020
| Updated: 11:33, 29 May 2020
By Steve Acteson
Ali Kingston has been elected as Canterbury Golf Club’s first female president and chairman.
And she has some revolutionary ideas to bring down the barriers between the sexes in club competition, in line with the rest of the world.
Ali, who won her tenth straight Canterbury Ladies’ Championship last August and is a regular member of the Kent Seniors Ladies’ team, would like to see an end to the stereotypical men’s, ladies’ and seniors competitions and see regular stroke play and Stableford competitions open to all.
Ali, who lives in Nonington, was club captain in 2016 and is the first female chairman of any Kent golf club, was elected president just as the coronavirus struck, taking over from Keri Mathias-Williams.
But she did not want to comment on her hopes and aspirations for the club until the lockdown had eased and golf was being played again.
She said: "Leaving the Coronavirus problems to one side for now, if I have one aspiration as president it would be to bring down the barriers between the sections and make competitions open to all members, so that we are more of a united club.
"We are the only country where men, women and seniors still play separate competitions on a regular basis. Everywhere else; the USA, Australia, you name it, it is mixed competition.
"If it’s a men’s or women’s cup competition that’s one thing but if it’s something like the Monday Stableford why shouldn’t everybody play?
"I do know of clubs in Britain where they have trialled it, it’s not like tennis for example, in golf men and women play off different tees and we have a handicap system.’’
That aside, Ali knows Canterbury Golf has a long, hard road ahead even after the pandemic, having embarked on a major - and expensive - improvement programme shortly before it hit, including an extended dining and function area, a new professional shop and a fairway irrigation system.
And that, like so many other clubs and businesses has gone hand in hand with a complete loss of normal revenue streams from members, visitors and functions throughout the lockdown.
Ali said: "It was an honour and certainly very flattering to be asked to become president but when I was first asked if I would stand, just before Christmas, life was normal.
"I fully intended to help the club to keep going as it had for the previous four years under Keri, who did a brilliant job and I have a very hard act to follow.
"More so, because now my role is to help us survive all this, get us up and running as soon as possible and let members simply enjoy playing again.
"I would also like to express thanks to our general manager Roger Hyder and all our staff, who have done a fantastic job in getting the club back up and running with such short notice and to the members for supporting us.’’