First female captain in golf club's history

THE 10th oldest golf club in the UK has appointed a female captain for the first time in its 136-year history.

Jane Longhorn has been voted in as the first woman to captain Seaton Carew Golf Club, whose tees have been ruled by men for decades.

She will represent the course over the next 12 months, help raise money for charity and hopefully bring in more business.

Jane, who had been vice-captain for the last year, said: "Some of the men may have been taken aback at first, but the club and sport is changing, albeit slowly.

"Some of the ladies in their 80s remember it very much as a man's sport, but it isn't any longer.

"There are challenges ahead, and there are people who don't want any change, but this felt like the right time.

"This isn't about doing it for women or some great master plan, it is about the club and what is best for the club at this time."

The Mail reported in April 2008 how female members had been given the vote, 80 years after the Government gave full voting rights to women in General Elections.

At the time, the club said it hoped to attract more female members with the change, and Jane says her role will hopefully see more women trying out the sport in town.

Jane, who is married to Grahame, 54, a former junior captain at the club, said: "We have a very high quality section of lady golfers with about 30 members, but we could have more.

"It is a brilliant sport and maybe not what a lot of people think it is.

"This is not a snobbish club, it is welcoming and we are always looking forwards.

"The club has played a huge part in my life and I am very proud to be given this opportunity."

Jane, who lives in the Throston area of Hartlepool, says she was first taken to the Tees Road course before she could even walk.

She took up golf seriously in her 30s and has not looked back since.

The 49-year-old now plays off a single handicap and has set a record at the club by becoming ladies champion eight years in a row and has captained the ladies' section.

Her dad, Ivor Elwood, was club captain in 1976 and a life vice-president until he passed away in April last year and her brother, solicitor John Elwood, 55, has been club champion four times.

Jane has also chaired the club's marketing committee and has been vice-chairman of its finance committee.

She brings a host of business expertise from a successful career after qualifying from Cambridge University as a chemical engineer.

She has filled a variety of roles, including being general manager of Coca-Cola Ireland, and now works as a business consultant.

But she says she will dedicate the whole of the coming year to the golf club, which was among the first 50 to be created in the world when it was set up as the Durham and Yorkshire Golf Club in 1874.

Roger Impett, the outgoing captain, proposed Jane for the role to members during a club meeting on Friday and she was then voted in.

He said: "I'm very proud Jane is captain of this club. She is a superb golfer and administrator and will be great in the role.

"This sends a message out about the type of club we are and that we are not complacent in moving the club forward."