“Growing the game, one chick at a time,” says Jenny Hennessy as we come towards the end of our chat at the Els Club.
It’s been the Irishwoman’s go-to motto since founding golf group ‘Chicks With Sticks’ earlier this year after discovering many like-minded young women wanted a route into the game that is so often thought of as an old, rich man’s sport.
Hennessy, a teacher, is no stranger to golf, playing off an impressive handicap of 1 having been introduced to the game as a teenager through her golf-loving dad.
“I grew up in a golfing family with both my parents and two siblings playing the game,” said Hennessy.
“My dad first introduced me to the game when I was around 12 years old, he’s been a scratch or 1 handicap golfer since he was a teenager so he was absolutely thrilled to introduce his own family to the sport.
“The club I grew up in had an amazing junior girls section, which was led by two wonderful ladies in the form of Kay Vaughan and Jean Maloney, who were both great golfing ambassadors from a young age.
“I was also blessed to spend my summers in a seaside village called Lahinch with the golf course literally on my doorstep, so between golf being in the family genes and the course literally at my feet, I was always destined to fall in love with the game.”
After moving to Dubai in September last year, the self-confessed ‘social butterfly,’ quickly became aware of a gap in the market for a golfing group for young women after hearing of their motivation to get into the game during social outings.
“Whether at home in Ireland or over here in the UAE, I’ve always tried to showcase the positive and more appealing side to golf,” she said. “I would tell my friends that it’s not just a sport for men and old women – it’s a game for everyone.
“Upon moving here I quickly learned that there was interest to play golf within the young professional community. I’m a bit of social butterfly who likes to go to brunches and parties, and girls would come up to me and say ‘I’ve heard you play golf, I’d love to play.’
“I guess I just got a bit sick of everybody talking about it and felt that something needed to be done, which gave me the courage to start up Chick With Sticks in March this year.”
So what exactly is Chicks With Sticks?
“It’s very pink!” she chuckled. “It’s a low cost entry point to golf in a fun, social and relaxed setting. After we’ve had our coaching session at the Claude Harmon III Performance Golf Academy, we enjoy a glass or two of bubbles while catching up about our week, golf and just life in general.
“I think for a lot of us out here in Dubai, the work week is pretty tough going so it’s great to have that escape on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening to just take a break and for girls to learn a new skill in a fun and relaxed environment.”
The girls-only group started off with 30 members, who all took part in a free introduction to the game, before all 30 signed up for the first season of Chicks With Sticks, which consisted of a five-week lesson package.
Two months later the group had trebled in size with close to 100 Chicks taking up the game while the group currently boasts 162 Chicks.
“We’re constantly growing,” she says. “Our WhatsApp group has 256 members, which is at capacity so if Mark Zuckerberg can increase that for us, that would be great!
“There’s been a lot of positive feedback from the girls that have signed up and plenty of funny stories have arose. For example, there’s a diverse multicultural society in Chicks so some girls’ mums think that golf is a posh sport in their country and they can’t believe they are playing the game now. But my favourite story has to be when the girls say they love leaving the apartment to play golf and tell their partners to do the cooking or washing.
“The boys are pretty startled and probably thinking ‘what’s happening to the world,’ as it’s usually them that are leaving the house to play golf – Chicks With Sticks is here to change that!”
Having introduced so many young women to the game in just seven months, Hennessy is certainly achieving her motto of ‘growing the game, one chick at a time.’
The growth of the group in the last seven months is nothing short of incredible and is testament to Hennessy’s motivation to show the fun and social side of the sport she loves so dearly.
“The exciting thing about Chicks With Sticks is the fact that I really don’t know what the future holds,” she says. “I know the future is bright but because we are growing at such a fast rate, I don’t really know where it’s going to take us but I’m excited about it.
“I’m definitely going to start a more advanced program because some players are showing talent and progress so it would be a smaller more advance group setting, which is something I’d also love to be involved with. I think Chicks With Sticks for junior girls would be a great opportunity along with Chicks With Sticks for mums, grannies and everyone! We’ll see what the future holds.”
Future Chicks who want to sign up for the program can contact Jenny through the Chicks With Sticks Instagram page.