The G4D Open

It’s a family affair at The G4D Open – mother and daughter to tee it up at Woburn

The R&A
10 May 24
2 mins

Martine and Heather Gilks will make history at Woburn this month as the first mother and daughter duo to compete in The G4D Open.

The East Midlands pair, who play out of Coventry Golf Club, are participating in the Championship for the first time and are hugely excited at the prospect. “When I got the email from The R&A, I intermittently screamed and cried,” says Martine. “I hoped Heather would get in, and I was astonished that I did too. I am absolutely delighted to be playing.” Martine, 54, who has osteoarthritis in all her joints, has been playing golf since 2010. Playing to a Handicap Index of 18, she feels her game should be well suited to the Duchess Course at Woburn. “When I first started and I was an able-bodied golfer, I could hit the ball a long way, but my short game was atrocious,” she says. “Now I’m laid up on crutches, I practice my putting lots and my short game is now good, but I can’t hit the ball very far. I hit it straight though so the tree-lined fairways at Woburn should give me an advantage.”

Golf perfect for Heather

Heather, 18, who is in her first year studying law, plays to a six Handicap Index. Heather has cerebral palsy and golf has been an important part of her physio programme in recent years. “Heather’s cerebral palsy affects her legs and her left side, her left arm,” says Martine. “It’s important that physio is part of her daily routine and golf is perfect for that.” Martine and Heather were unable to participate in The G4D Open last year and are thrilled to have the chance to make their debuts in 2024. “Last year when The G4D Open was first held, I was captain of the ladies’ section at Coventry,” continues Martine. Heather was junior captain and doing her A-levels, so we were both a bit snowed under. Several of our friends played though and said what an amazing experience it was. So, this year, we both had the opportunity to enter and we went for it.”
Martine and Heather Gilks will make history at Woburn as the first mother and daughter duo to compete in The G4D Open.

Treated the same

Golf is an important part of Martine and Heather’s lives. They enjoy both the social and competitive sides of the sport. They relish the personal challenge and the opportunity to meet and play with different people from different backgrounds. “One thing we both love about golf is that when we play we are treated just as other golfers – our disabilities become almost invisible,” says Martine. “At our local club, people don’t think of us as disabled, they think of us as golfers. It’s one of the few places you can go and be treated the same as everybody else.” Heather has played the Duchess Course at Woburn before, when she participated in a Rose Series event three years ago. Heather was one of the EDGA players in the field that week. Martine was also able to play a practice round on the Duchess in April to get a feel for the challenge the players will face in The G4D Open. “Course management will be important with all those trees,” she says. “That’s something I think will suit Heather as it’s a real strength of her game. The greens are excellent. I love fast greens and I expect them to be pretty quick.”

Woburn excitement

Martine and Heather have had competitive success as a pairing. They have won their home club foursomes competition on two occasions. They enjoy playing social golf but always have some sort of competition on the side. “We’ll do fewest putts or closest to the pin, there’s always something to play for,” says Martine with a smile. “I invariably end up buying the tea in the clubhouse though, as it’s always me that loses.” And Martine thinks it’s likely to be the same story at Woburn for The G4D Open. “You can see from our handicaps, there’s a bit of a difference there,” she laughs. “If it was a nett event, then I would have a chance. But as it’s gross, I think it will be Heather who finishes higher up the leaderboard!”  The G4D Open, held in partnership between The R&A and the DP World Tour and supported by EDGA, is one of the most inclusive ever staged, featuring nine sport classes across multiple impairment groups, with 80 players from around the world. Spectators are encouraged to attend at Woburn from 15-17 May, with attendance and car parking free of charge.