EXCLUSIVE

Transgender PGA pro vows to return to Open despite "abuse"

The Open Sign

A golf coach has vowed to return to The Open despite abandoning her work at this week’s championship after suffering from alleged transphobic abuse.

Alison Perkins, a PGA pro from Milton Keynes, had been part of the team delivering lessons at the "Swing Zone" in the Spectator Village at Royal St George’s this week but left early after allegedly being subjected to harassment.

Perkins has attended Opens in this capacity previously. She could, in fact, have been playing this week after making history as the first transfemale to take part in regional qualifying for the Open. 

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An 81 at Hollinwell ended her hopes of playing in the championship proper but she was still at Sandwich in a coaching capacity.

That is until a small group of bigots reportedly left her with no alternative but to cut her week short.

Speaking to bunkered.co.uk, Perkins refused to go into detail about the abuse, saying “what happened is done now". 

"Yes, it has hurt and caused much distress," she added. "It only takes a few in thousands to do harm and it can take me a while to recover from this sort of thing,

“However, I like to draw on the good and not the bad. I will fight and be back at some point. For now, I just hope folk enjoy the Open. I am about portraying the positive in my life. 

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"What goes around comes around. I have many battles in life. Some I choose to fight, others are not worth it. The end goal is more important to me.”

The incidents undermined what had been an otherwise positive experience for Perkins, who described the Swing Zone as 'awesome'.

"We are a team of PGA coaches from all over the country, offering free 15-minute coaching sessions to people at the Open," she added. "This was my third Open in a row and I love it.

"You can be coaching anyone from scratch to beginner, five to 90-years-old. The way I coach to is very different to what many will have seen. 

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"It was a hard week with all the COVID precautions but I did four days on the zone, watched lots of golf fans and learnt so much too. I do hope to be back trying to qualify again next year, if not coaching again if I apply and get selected."

A spokesman for The R&A said: “Alison is a valued member of the PGA’s Swing Zone team and we are deeply disturbed to have learned of the incident earlier this week. 

"We will be reaching out to Alison to offer our support and make it clear she is most welcome at The Open in future. We strongly believe that golf should be open to all and deplore any kind of discriminatory behaviour.”

A PGA spokesperson added: "This is a very distressing incident and Alison has our full support at this difficult time. 

"Alison has been an integral member of the Swing Zone team delivering free golf lessons to the general public at The Open and has contributed a huge amount to its success this year as well as in previous years. She is a highly skilled and dedicated coach and is respected and admired by her colleagues and golfers alike. 

"The well-being of our Members is our primary focus and we will continue to support Alison. We enjoy a diverse Membership of more than 8,000 PGA Professionals who should all be free to work without fear of discrimination or prejudice."

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