How Dimmock is making a stand for women’s game
Annabel Dimmock tells Kate Rowan that nails, make-up and celebrities would aid a cooler image
As Annabel Dimmock holds her hand up to flash a set of shiny, jet-black nails, she suddenly becomes serious. “I love having very long fake nails, but they started to make me grip funny, so I had to go back to short ones.”
Beauty regimes may seem a frivolous topic for a serious athlete to be discussing on the eve of a major, but Dimmock’s reflection on how fashion can impact her golf game throws up a serious issue for her sport; the perception of golf not being particularly cool, particularly as a sport for girls and young women.
Ahead of the Evian Championship, which tees off today, Dimmock tells The Daily Telegraph that embracing the individuality of players could be key to changing attitudes. “Golf is cool – I am sick of the stereotype that is an older person’s sport,” she says.
The Solheim Cup hopeful conjures memories of a young Ian Poulter as she explains the joy she takes from changing her hair colour – having previously been shocking pink she is now considering purple – to emphasise how she would like younger people to experience her sport. “It is so important that we have characters in golf and that is what gets the views. If you have someone like Poulter, it makes you want to watch. Women’s golf should use the girls’ personalities a bit more. We can be girlie girls but we can still rip it. We can hit the ball further than these guys we see at the club, I love that! Embracing our individuality and that we wear make-up like other girls is a selling point for our sport. A lot of the girls will have something in their bag if they need to freshen up.”
She describes 83-year-old Gary Player as “the coolest guy in golf ”, as they struck up a friendship when she played at the South African’s invitational tournament, and has messaged him for gym tips.
The 22-year-old, who grew up in Higher Denham, Buckingham-shire, was not academic in school. “I hated school, I hated studying and I hated teachers telling me what to do. The only subject I was ever punctual for was PE,” she says. But she is sharp, with a natural sense for marketing as she ponders the importance of younger celebrities embracing her sport.
“You see people like Justin Bieber or [American basketball player] Steph Curry posting about golf on social media and that makes golf seem really cool, whereas a lot of people my age think it is for retired people. For girls, you need to have some really big female celebrities playing.”
It is not surprising then that Dimmock, a self-proclaimed fan of the “Kardashian fashion” style, nominates a member of the reality television clan, 21-year-old cosmetic mogul Kylie Jenner, as a potential target to help grow golf ’s appeal among girls.
Although Dimmock has yet to break on to the LPGA Tour or make the impact her friend Georgia Hall did in winning last year’s Women’s Open, she is not daunted by the challenge in the Alps, as she secured her first Ladies European Tour victory at the Jabra Ladies Open at the Evian Resort in May.
Dimmock opted to pursue golf over football, having played for Queens Park Rangers as a teenager. “I was better at football than golf. It is changing now but there was more of a career for girls in golf than there was in football then,” she says.
Dimmock does not shy away from the fact that a key motivator for her succeeding at golf, despite the pay gap with the men, is being able to indulge in her passion for fashion. “I like the finer things in life, I am massively into fashion. When I won I treated myself to some new clothes. Treating yourself is really important, it reminds me of all the hours of practice I have put in. That is my motivation – and is for a lot of women in different jobs.”
Her sunny disposition is only clouded when asked about her thoughts on Muirfield only now admitting female members. “Ugh, it annoys me that there is that old-fashioned way of thinking. We are in the 21st century and that needs to change. It frustrates me.”
Dimmock sees boosting the sport’s fashion image as another factor: “When I retire I would love to bring out my own cool golf clothes line that people would enjoy.”
For all her verve and enthusiasm to bring women’s golf into the mainstream, she believes the breakthrough might not happen until she is retired.
“I am excited for women’s golf, even if it doesn’t happen for me. I would look forward to seeing if the younger generation can get to a point where it is like tennis and there is equal pay. Even if we could get to a place where there is an equal amount of tournaments.”
Fashionable: Annabel Dimmock feels women’s golf would enjoy a makeover