It’s International Women’s Day and we took a moment to sit down with Valerie Melvin, co-owner of Frankly Golf and ask her some questions about her career in the golf industry, spanning 22 years.
Q: How did you get started in golf?
A: I was introduced to the game at Clydebank and District Golf Club’s Family Open day. They had a target golf game there where you had to hit the ball into a circular target and I wanted to try. I had never hit the ball before, so my dad told me he would bring me back at a later day and I could try. He went up to the clubhouse and I stayed there watching people hit the ball, fascinated to see it fly in the air. This was in Scotland, so unsurprisingly, it started to rain and all the people disappeared and the man who was running the target golf felt sorry for me and asked if I would like to try. So I took the club and started hitting the ball into the circles. That was how I started.
Q: You represented Scotland at golf, how did you accomplish that?
A: Well, I practiced at every opportunity. I often used to walk to the golf course after school. I reckoned that if I practiced hard and listened to what I was being taught I would improve. The handicap system was a good measure and gave you feedback as you were getting better and better. Clydebank and District Golf club members were so supportive of me, as were Dunbartonshire and Argyll Ladies County and the West of Scotland Girls. I had some great coaches that helped me and I also grew up playing with a lot of girls who were extremely talented and made it to the LPGA Tour, like Catriona Matthew, Janice Moodie, Mhairi McKay and many, many others. That drives your game forward, and raises your standard of play.
Q: How did you start your career in the golf industry?
A: Well I first worked in St Andrews editing Golf Science International, a magazine that took scientific information about golf and made it easy to understand. The magazine was funded by the R&A and USGA. It was there that I met Frank Thomas, who was Technical Director of the USGA, and we decided to start Frankly Golf, to help golfers. We specialized in putting because it is 45% of the score.
Q: What have you learned about putting over the years?
A: I have learned that putting is extremely important and it’s a combination of equipment, mechanics and mindset. The equipment and the mechanics are the easiest part to master, with the mindset being the most challenging. However, there is a system that you can follow to make you putt well, and all these elements are interlinked. We have written a book, The Fundamentals of Putting which details specifically what you need to do, as well as having created an online Certified Putting Instructor course that can be completed from home, and have partnerships with many PGAs around the world as well as the LPGA to help their professionals teach putting with good information and confidence.
Q: What advice would you give to any girls looking to enter the golf industry?
A: Well, work hard, whether it is studying or playing the game and be positive. Always look to learn more and never give up. If you want something, you have to go for it. I think the industry is starting to shift in terms of being a little more women friendly, but you want to be given a job or a position because you are the best qualified and the best at it. When doors open, be prepared to walk through them and perform to the best of your ability.
Q: As an entrepreneur, what have you learned, having owned Frankly Golf for 20 years?
A: I think you have to believe in yourself and your ideas and products. I have learned that you really need to be determined and focused on your goal, especially if you are creating something from scratch, as Frank and I have. If you have a good mission and you enjoy what you do, then it doesn’t ever seem like work.
Q: What do you enjoy most about running Frankly Golf?
A: I enjoy helping golfers and seeing other people get better and improve. Whether it’s from reading our book The Fundamentals of Putting, using the Frankly Frog putter, or seeing our Certified Putting Instructors helping their students putt well and having business success, it all makes me happy because I know we are making a difference to other people and their enjoyment of the game. It’s extremely rewarding.
Q: What do you do when you are not working?
A: Well, I do spend a lot of time operating Frankly Golf, but I still enjoy playing golf, and try to do that as often as I can. Creativity is extremely important to me. I have written a poetry book, and also enjoy painting and illustration and have an Instagram account valmelvinart where people can follow my work.