New Ashton golf captains ready at tee

JACQUI DAWBER, Ashton’s new lady captain, is not fazed by her role.

The nine-handicapper was lady captain at Fairfield in 1996 as well as holding the role of lady president in 1998,99 and 2000.

Lee Butterworth and Jacqui Dawber

Jacqui followed husband John, who plays off seven, when he left Fairfield to join Ashton in 2007, though she still plays at Fairfield.

Indeed, in 2007 Jacqui had the distinction of winning Lady Captain’s Prize, a major, at both Fairfield and Ashton in the same year.

Jacqui, who has also been handicaps secretary at both clubs, has enjoyed considerable success and won too many majors to remember.

However, she remembers winning her first major at Fairfield aged only 18 and two in her first season at Ashton.

Jacqui, 57, who works an education manager for the Halle Orchestra, enjoyed a remarkable season two years ago.

She explained: “I decided to treat myself to a new set of clubs because I thought it was now or never as I will probably not be able to afford them when I retire.

“That season I won five majors at Ashton and Fairfield, a surprise as I thought it would take me time to get used to them,” she said.

Jacqui took up golf aged 14 during a family holiday to Port Patrick in South West Scotland.

She explained: “My dad, who had three daughters, was a golfer and was dying to get us out for a game on holiday.

“Eventually my mum and I went with him. I had a go and was hooked.”

Jacqui’s mother Barbara Dean went on to become an accomplished player and a captain of the past lady captains of the Manchester and District Ladies Golf Association.

Jacqui, who has worked for the Halle for 35 years having initially joined them on a work placement while at college, is keen on amateur dramatics.

She is accompanist pianist/chorus mistress for both Ashton Operatics and Mossley Amateur Operatics and Dramatics Society.

During her year of office as lady captain, Jacqui is raising money for Diabetes UK and Dr Kershaw’s Hospice.

Son Alex, who was close to becoming a scratch golfer, died in 2014 following a diabetic attack while close friend Claire Firth was cared for at the hospice before her death.

Other sons Michael and Gareth – all three were former junior captains – are also good golfers, though they both live in Australia.

Jacqui is looking forward to her year, though she is only just got back playing having had a new knee last July.

MEANWHILE, New Ashton captain Lee Butterworth excelled in another ball sport before he turned to golf.

The 50-year-old was a well-known local semi-professional footballer, a striker who found the net for the likes of Ashton United, Mossley, Accrington Stanley and Hyde United.

Lee, who lives in Lees, was a junior member at Ashton but stopped playing to concentrate of his football and didn’t return to the fairways until his mid thirties.

And with a handicap of two, Lee is one of the club’s elite players.

He has captured quite a few of the club’s majors and describes victory in the Kenworthy, a scratch competition, as especially pleasing.

“It was an achievement when up against the likes of Matthew Nixon (now an European Tour professional) and Mike Kelly,” he explained.

While golf is enduring challenging times, Lee says Ashton is “thriving” pointing to a new three-day category of membership as being popular as 90 people have signed up.

The club has also set up an Academy at local schools and that has been a success yielding about 50 new members.

“If you look at the average age of golfers at a club, it is probably between 50/60. It is not a young person’s sport, and that is something we need to work hard at because they are the next generation we need to attract,” explained Lee.

It is a measure of the optimism that Ashton are looking to carry out £200,000 of improvements to the clubhouse providing they can secure grants.

The club wants to improve the entrance, instal a lift and extend the kitchens.

 

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