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- 12. September 2007.
Elizabeth Earnshaw nominated as next president of ELGA
Her appearance alongside the players at St Andrews in 1995 was one of a number of notable “firsts” in a long and high-profile career at the sharp end of golf administration.
Now Mrs Earnshaw, an OBE for services to golf and an honorary member of both Ladbrook Park Golf Club and the Warwickshire Ladies’ County Golf Association, is looking forward to the next stage of her career as ELGA president.
“This is a very great honour and I am absolutely delighted to be given this opportunity,” she said. “This is a very interesting time for ELGA which has a modernisation programme designed to meet the challenges of the modern world.”
Mrs Earnshaw is no stranger to change. During the 1990s she took on a key role for the Ladies Golf Union in the creation of a new women’s handicapping system which reflected current playing form.
She was also involved in combining the men’s and women’s schemes into the unified handicapping system which is in use today. In addition, she has helped devise the system used by the continental European countries.
Mrs Earnshaw’s own handicap has been as low as four and is currently 13. She is a past captain of the Warwickshire second team and has made occasional outings for the first team.
However, her time and energies were increasingly devoted to administration and particularly to the rules of the game. She’s a computer programmer by profession with a natural inclination to be precise and to seek practical solutions to problems.
Her earliest brush with the rules came on the day she completed her first card for handicap – only to be told that it couldn’t count because she hadn’t signed the book before going out to play.
That sparked an interest which led to her becoming a highly-regarded rules expert. She’s been chairman of both ELGA and the LGU and has chaired the rules and regulations committees of both organisations.
She was in the first wave of representatives of national organisations invited to attend the R&A’s Referees School and she was the first LGU representative on the R&A Rules of Golf committee.
Her expertise brought the invitation to be one of the first two women to referee at The Open in 1995. She was also the first British women to referee at The Masters, in 1997, and has been on duty at two further Open championships, as well as at all the top women’s amateur tournaments.
When Mrs Earnshaw refereed at St Andrews it was a golfing sensation. She remarked: “Nowadays, there are always women among the referees at these events but then the Press went bananas. They didn’t want to know about the rules – they wanted to know if I’d be allowed in the R & A clubhouse at St Andrews!” The answer, for the record, is: “Yes. The members are very hospitable.”
Mrs Earnshaw began her golf as a member at Barrow Golf Club in Cumbria, before moving to London where she joined Royal Mid-Surrey and Hampstead. She moved to Warwickshire in 1974 and has been a member at Ladbrook Park since then.