NEWPORT'S Hannah McAllister is to become the next boss of Wales Golf – making her one of the first female chief executives of a merged golf governing body in the world.

The former Wales international player, who started at Llanwern, will also be the first female CEO of a merged golf union in the Home Nations when she succeeds Richard Dixon, who is retiring this summer after 30 years at the top of the Welsh game.

McAllister joined the development arm set-up as a result of the Ryder Cup bid 19 years ago, rising to director of development, as well as deputising for the current CEO for the past three years.

The 42-year-old mother of two has played a key role in bringing more than half a million people through schemes run by Wales Golf, as well as improving and increasing the way the governing body works with member clubs.

That relationship has been particularly crucial through the Coronavirus pandemic, Wales Golf working directly with 99 per cent of the clubs to help them through the crisis.

McAllister believes this is a good time to be taking over to build on the strong relationships built with Welsh clubs during the pandemic.

Improving equality, diversity and inclusion within golf, as well as engaging with all existing and potential golfers, will be key targets moving forward.

BOSS: Wales Golf chief executive Hannah McAllister

BOSS: Wales Golf chief executive Hannah McAllister

"I can build on Wales Golf's strong foundations, grow and develop it further and lead our established team through the changes and challenges that lie ahead. I will be looking to provide stability and create sustainability," said McAllister.

"We have got a fantastic culture and I am just excited about the times ahead. We have created a really good relationship with our clubs and our golfers, we will be building on that and moving it forward.

"So it has been a tough year but in some ways there has never been a better time to take over. I feel I have got that experience – I just need to take the next step now and I am really looking forward to it."

McAllister took up golf at the age of 12 and moved up through Llanwern golf club and county levels until she was part of the Wales squad at the age of 17.

"I used to play tennis, and then my Dad asked me to swing a golf club, he said it was a good swing and took me to a driving range, I developed, joined Llanwern golf club and within a year came down from 36 to a 12 handicap," she said.

"Then I gradually improved, played for the club ladies team, the county and was recruited to the Welsh junior squad.

"The sport has given me many opportunities and skills. It has enabled me to travel all over GB and lead me to my education and career path."

McAllister is proud to be one of the first female chief executives of a merged golf governing body and hoping the appointment will encourage more women to take up a career in golf.

"I am the most experienced person for the job. However there is a gender gap within golf in participation and the workforce and I hope I can be a good role model within the sport," she said.

"My appointment will set a good example to organisations that need to improve their gender diversity at a senior executive level. I am looking forward to showing what Wales Golf can do and how we can drive the sport forward in Wales.

"There is a lot to do in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion within the sport, but we have made significant progress, and I am looking forward to building on this.

"Schemes such as New2Golf have 65 per cent female participation. We also have the business support scheme, which helps to improve the business planning process and governance within clubs, so we have the support to encourage more people to take up this great sport.

"It is also essential coming out of the pandemic that we focus on the health benefits of golf and that is it a safe sport to play. It can change people's lives and improve health and well-being due to the social aspects and exercising in the great outdoors.

"We have some work to do to ensure we break down some of the traditional perceptions of the sport to ensure we reach our vision 'Everyone's Game, Anywhere.'

"There is a version of the sport for everyone, it can be low cost and good value for money, and we need to promote all the opportunities to get people to try the sport and take advantage of all golf has to offer."