A round with… Siân Oakley

The new North of England girls’ Regional Squad manager and former Great Britain rock climber on her love of golf, her strengths on the course, and who makes it into her dream fourball

Siân Oakley has had an incredibly busy golfing career since picking up the game 12 years ago. She’s captained her home club, Gosforth, as well as the Northumberland County Ladies Golf Association. She’s also been county junior organiser, a role she recently left in order to become manager of the highly successful North of England girls’ Regional Squad. A former competitive rock climber – Siân represented Great Britain as a lead climber and boulderer – when she’s not up a mountain there’s a good chance you’ll find the 12-handicapper on or very near a golf course. Here’s more…

1 How much golf do you get to play?
I tend to over-schedule a little between working as an A Level psychology teacher, serving as a magistrate, and fulfilling my roles in golf, but I still average a couple of games per week right through the year. I also still climb, and row, so there’s not a lot of downtime in my diary.

2 How did you get into golf?
My dad, Tom Killen, got me into climbing immediately after I finished my politics degree at Birmingham University. Once he’d stopped climbing, he took up golf and I followed him into that too as it was the perfect way to spend time with him. I did a beginner class with Marcus Webb at the Morpeth Family Golf Centre and I’ve loved it ever since.

3 Which is your favourite course in the North East?
I’ve always been a member of Gosforth Golf Club and still love playing there. I’m also a big fan of my second club, Hexham, too. Away from those, I love the courses on the Northumberland coast, especially Bamburgh.

4 And further afield?
I would have to pick The Glen in East Lothian. It’s a spectacular location on the Firth of Forth and it’s where I played most of my golf with my dad, so I have lots of special memories there – including meeting Adam Scott and his dad when the Open was on.

5 What’s your best score?
I shot seven over-par at Gosforth on Captain’s Day this year, which was a good time to do it with lots of great prizes to win.

6 Which is your favourite golfing memory?
It was one of the last times I played with my dad at The Glen before he stopped playing. My daughter played with us as well and it was so special to do that with both of them.

7 What about embarrassing moments on the course?
When I started playing, I was the bandit of choice for lots of people as my handicap couldn’t keep up as I improved. Having been specially chosen for a foursomes county event at Bamburgh Castle, my partner let me tee off on the odd holes. On the first tee, I hit four balls off the cliff in front of loads of people. She properly stitched me up!

8 Do you have any golfing superstitions?
No, there’s nothing I’m too attached to when it comes to golfing rituals or routines.

9 What are your strengths on the course?
I don’t take it too seriously and you’ll never see me get wound up on the golf course. I think that’s a good strength to have as an amateur golfer.

10 And your weaknesses?
Ironically for a psychology teacher, the bit between my ears gets in the way too often, particularly with my driver.

11 Which is your favourite club in the bag?
I’ve got a very old, quite cheap, Ben Sayers 23-degree rescue club. It’s a bit battered, but it’s my go-to club anytime I feel a bit worried about a shot.

12 Who is your best golfing friend?
My dad. He’s the reason I took up the sport and we played so much golf together. While he can’t get out on the course anymore, he’s the person I’d want to play with every time.

13 What would you be doing if you weren’t so involved in golf?
I’d be climbing more mountains and probably have a bit more free time.

14 Who is your favourite golfer?
I like Ian Poulter, he has a great spirit for a sportsperson and his passion for the Ryder Cup was phenomenal.

15 Which golf event do you  enjoy most?
The Northern Counties Junior Jamboree, which brings together girls with handicaps of 15 and above, is brilliant. Seeing the girls enjoy themselves, bond and get into the spirit of the event is fantastic.

16 Who do you admire?
I’ve been inspired by the Suffragette movement for a long time. They recognised that golf, like horse racing, was a bastion of male power and decided to target courses and confront prominent politicians while they were playing to further their campaign to get the vote. While I don’t agree with some of their tactics, what they achieved was so brave and incredibly important to where we are today.

17 Which three people would join you in your dream fourball?
My dad would have to be in there first. I’d also pick Naga Munchetty as she’d go up against my final pick, Donald Trump, if he were to try anything questionable on the golf course.

18 If you could have one mulligan, when would you have used it?
If I could have got just one ball in play off the first tee at Bamburgh with all those people standing around, that would be perfect.