The Path to Success for Tracy Loveys - Golf Pro at Bigbury Golf Club
“But ladies don’t play golf do they, Daddy?”
But ladies don’t play golf do they, Daddy?
Most people who visit Bigbury see her as the friendly professional offering advice to every level of golfer with the occasional cup of tea in her hand. Most of her professional contemporaries see her as the three time WPGA Glenmuir Club Pros champion with a golf swing that most can only dream of. However, few realise that beyond the ever present smile of Tracy Loveys and her providing inspiration to amateurs and pros alike, there is a story behind her career with a winding, long and, in some places, rocky path.
“But ladies don’t play golf do they, Daddy?”
It seems hard to believe that, upon first swinging a golf club in her back garden, these were the Bigbury Head Professional’s bemused words to her father. Naturally pleased that his twelve year-old showed an interest, her father enrolled her at lessons at Weymouth Golf Club and after subsequently winning the first junior competition she played in, he made her a full member.
Watching her handicap tumble from 36 to 18 in a year and down to single figures the year after, it was obvious that Loveys had incredible natural talent, which she became determined to use as part of her career. She was in fact one of eight very talented junior golfers at Weymouth who made up a team that blitzed the opposition in every game they played, and although she stood out amongst her peers, six out of the eight went on to turn professional.
“But ladies don’t play golf do they, Daddy?” Well if she had no idea that they did before, she certainly knew now.
Following her club success, Loveys won 20 county titles in her amateur career, including champion in 1989 and 1990, as well as representing England at schools’ level. Sadly, she lost her father in 1990, narrowly missing out on winning the County Championship the year after in his memory, and struggled to retain focus due to the emotional void left in her life. Although she never lost her ability and still remained a stalwart member of the Dorset County team, Loveys, in her own words, “owes her mum everything for giving her the confidence to carry on and pursue her dream,”
Eventually in 1992, after practise, dedication and managing to reduce her handicap to 0.0, Loveys became Assistant Professional at Broadstone Golf Club and was sponsored to go on the European Tour. However, she is quick to point out that despite being delighted with a best finish of tied sixth among household names such as Laura Davies, Trish Johnson and Karrie Webb, the tour lifestyle is not nearly as glamorous as the average golfer is lead to believe.
“I always wanted to turn pro but had no idea how hard it was going to be,” Loveys says. “Being a good amateur does not mean that you’ll make a good professional – you have to have that something extra, which very few possess. I enjoyed the tour while I was there and as much as I’m older and wiser now, maybe even a better player, I would never go back to the lifestyle.”
In fact, despite her success, Loveys gave up golf between 1996, when she finished the European Tour, and 1997.
“I lost all my enjoyment and if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, what’s the point?” she says, frankly. “I’ve always enjoyed the teaching element of my job and helping members with their game, but I just didn’t want to be on a golf course,”
Whilst her coaching resume was building, with European Tour players and the Dorset Ladies County team on her extensive list of pupils, it was only when she was persuaded to play in a corporate day in 1998 that she regained inspiration to play, and she went on to achieve what no other female professional in the country has managed to do: win the WPGA Glenmuir Club Professional’s Championship three years in a row.
This prestigious competition is held every year to find the best female club professional in England, and in most of the years that she has competed, Loveys has at some point been in the lead.
“I’ve thrown it several times!” she smiles. “When I was Head Professional at Remedy Oak (in Dorset) I lead twice going into the final day and just couldn’t quite get the job done. It was frustrating, but it just fuelled me to succeed the following year.”
It was only when she joined Bigbury in 2008 that she had her first taste of winning the trophy, going on to win it again in 2009 – by 12 shots – and 2010, making Loveys the first player in the history of the tournament to complete the hat-trick.
She went into this year’s tournament, held at the Belfry, with a smile and a positive attitude, saying, “I get to play a great golf course and I’ll do my very best to take things sensibly in a medal competition,” although she narrowly missed out to London based Marie Allen on the last day. Speaking to Loveys after the tournament, one could not help but admire her outlook, “I’m obviously gutted but finishing second after three years of success is still an achievement. It just gives me the incentive to practise more and bring it back to Bigbury next year!”
As golf can be played for so many different reasons and at so many different levels, it depends on who you are as to how you define someone ‘making it big’. There is no doubt, however, that if you were to set foot in Bigbury Golf Club’s pro shop, you would find the woman who has made it in all aspects of golf, managing to keep a smile on her face and inspire everyone around her in the process.