26 Aug 2022 | Women and girls |

Peters wearing multiple hats in Paris

by Dane Heverin

Stacey and Zoe Peters, Kelsey Bennett, Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, Kirsten Rudgeley, and Lauren and Isla Mackey proudly wearing the Australian uniform in Paris.
Stacey and Zoe Peters, Kelsey Bennett, Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, Kirsten Rudgeley, and Lauren and Isla Mackey proudly wearing the Australian uniform in Paris.

In the past two years, the ‘new normal’ has become a common catch cry but for new mother and Golf Australia Female Pathway Manager Stacey Peters that phrase has deeper meaning. 

Juggling motherhood with her career has been a new challenge for Peters and that balancing act has been on full display in Paris this week. 

Accompanied by her 16-month-old daughter Zoe, Peters is captaining the Australian women’s team of Kirsten Rudgeley, Kelsey Bennett and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard at the World Amateur Team Championship.

Bouncing around between golf courses, airports and hotels is nothing new to the former touring professional - Peters, née Keating, won twice on the Ladies European Tour - but taking Zoe along for her first overseas venture since returning to work six months ago is a completely different experience.

“I kind of forgot that it was my first time travelling in quite a while,” she said. “I went from travelling a lot to not much. Covid and having a family made things very different for me, but this is the new normal and I really want to make it work.”

Earlier in the year, a trip from Melbourne to Brisbane for a Golf Australia high performance forum served as a taste tester of travelling with a toddler, but nothing could have prepared Peters for the 24-hour journey to the other side of the globe.

“Zoe was quite good, but I got sick on the second flight,” she said.

“It was a long flight and it was hard, but I had very low expectations so it didn’t seem that bad to me. I just kept thinking that I was lucky to be doing it.”

Peters nearly stayed home after her original plans were thrown out the window.

Her husband, Darren, was due to come along and they also planned to spend time with his family in the United Kingdom, but his work circumstances changed and Peters had to improvise.

“I was thinking ‘am I going to have to leave Zoe at home so that I can go and do my job?’,” she said. 

“Work, especially Brad James (Golf Australia’s General Manager - High Performance), was not in favour of me leaving Zoe behind and neither was I. I just don’t think I could have done that.

“We then put another plan in place where Darren’s family were going to help for a couple of days with Zoe. I flew into the UK and they had her for a few days. Then Luke and Lauren Mackey came in.”

The Mackeys, along with their four-year-old daughter Isla, are based at the Golf Australia house in Florida - a place for athletes to train their game, physically prepare and/or recover between events and engage with other amateurs, college athletes, rookie professionals and seasoned pros. Coaches and service providers use it for mini camps and training weeks for athletes preparing for qualifying schools and various tours.

Luke is Golf Australia’s Sport Medicine & Performance Manager, and Athlete Wellbeing & Engagement Manager, and his roles take their young family to golf tournaments all around the world. As a result they have acted as the perfect sounding board, and helpers, for Peters. 

“Lauren and Isla are going to be able to help with Zoe while I’m with the team,” Peters said.

“Isla is the most travelled four-year-old in the world. I’ve been leaning on Luke and Lauren a lot for advice on travelling with the little one, but I don’t think there are any great secrets. You just have to do your best.”

One of the four pillars of Golf Australia’s Vision 2025 strategy is high performance and coaching to create more heroes to inspire future generations of girls, more female coaches to nurture and develop those players, and more chances for elite players to compete and hone their skills.

A key part of that strategy is supporting working mothers within Golf Australia’s high performance program.

In May this year, Victorian team manager Elissa Lal had her one-year-old son with her as the Big V won the Australian Interstate Team Matches at Sorrento Golf Club, and now it is Peters’ turn to take up the challenge and she was handed additional responsibility only days into the trip.

Seven-time major winner Karrie Webb was due to captain the team, but after arriving in Paris a few days early to undertake a reconnaissance mission ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games, she returned to Australia for the funeral of her longtime coach Kelvin Haller.

Le Golf National, which is hosting the World Amateur Teams Championship, will also host the golf competition at the Games and as Webb, Peters and Mackey were working through logistics - the course’s location southwest of central Paris, near Versailles, means the Australian players will not be able to stay in the athletes’ village -  Australia’s Olympic golf captain was informed of the bad news.

Webb’s departure meant that the captaincy duties were handed over to Peters.

“It’s very unfortunate circumstances and we just wanted her to do what’s right for her,” Peters said. 

“She is absolutely devastated and she was so looking forward to the week. I feel really bad for the girls because you can imagine them thinking that they’re going to get to spend the week with Karrie and have her assisting them. 

“I don’t feel bad at all that the girls will be disappointed to have Luke and I. They totally understand and have been great though.”

The new role created a busy few days for Peters.

She walked Le Golf National and Golf de Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche with Rudgeley, Bennett and Hinson-Tolchard during their practice rounds, spoke with their coaches back home to be across everything they are working on and studied the courses to prepare the players for every challenge that may be thrown their way.

Peters describes her role as making sure the players feel comfortable so that they can play at their best and so far, she is clearly making an impact as the Australian team is among the contenders for the Espirito Santo Trophy at the tournament’s halfway mark.

The week is also proving to be an assessment of her own comfort levels.

“I have to get back to doing more travel and hopefully this is the start of that. This will be a really good test,” she said.

“Ask me at the end of the week and I’ll tell you whether or not it can work. It’ll get interesting when it comes to having to leave early in the morning because that’ll be so out of routine for Zoe, but I’m very grateful to have Luke and Lauren, and Golf Australia’s support.”

Follow the scores from the World Amateur Team Championships here

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