Wales Golf are looking to use publicity as a catalyst for change after the sport hit the headlines and social media in Wales thanks to the case of Lowri Roberts at Cottrell Park.
Women & Golf recently recapped on the story of Lowri Roberts and her quest for equality at Cottrell Park Golf Resort, which resulted in her membership at the club being suspended pending formal disciplinary action. Roberts had been petitioning to play competitively on the same course as the men on Saturday mornings, though granting her access to the Saturday morning tee time slots came with a condition; Roberts was required to publicly withdraw her previous comments made about the club by a given deadline, which she understandably declined to do.
Lowri Roberts’ story made it all the way to parliament, being raised by MP Kevin Brennan, and now Wales Golf want to use the story as a catalyst for change, and in light of the recent publicity are even more determined to work with clubs to apply the principles of their vision “Everyone’s Game, Anywhere”.
All golf clubs have complete autonomy over membership and competitions, and the situation between Roberts and Cottrell Park is more complex than some of the social media comments may suggest, but it has highlighted the issue of equality in golf and this is an area where Wales Golf has been pro-active for many years.
Wales Golf has a clear commitment to equality in golf through schemes to encourage people into the game, and those efforts have taken another leap forward this year with the appointment of Simon Lu as a Women and Girls Golf Development Officer, partly funded by the R&A.
While golf club membership is in decline across the UK, the decline in women club members in Wales is levelling off. There has also been an increase in the number of females participating in Wales Golf schemes.
“We have held a series of Women and Girls Forums in South Wales, West Wales, and North Wales to discuss the issues affecting people,” explained Lu. “We have also realised there is some information from clubs we do not have, so we are looking to develop a more in-depth picture of the situation in Wales”.
“Issues raised in the forums included tee-times, time commitments, the time of ladies competitions, and the perception golf clubs are male dominated…there were suggested solutions, including shorter competitions, ladies events at weekends, gender neutral competitions and gender neutral tees”.
"There were some suggestions how Wales Golf can help, in particular through the communication with and resources for clubs to encourage change".
“The point of the forums was to get a clearer picture of the situation round Wales, we are planning additional events, support and schemes linked to this. Obviously, the aim is to encourage more women and girls into golf by helping to break down some of the barriers.”
It is a theme picked up by Wales Golf director of development Hannah McAllister, who added, “Wales Golf encourage clubs to listen to all member’s needs, as well as catering for new members they want to attract to the sport”.
“They should provide variety of options to access social and competitive opportunities, as well as, providing reasonable access for both genders to tee times”.
"The benefit of golf is that it can be played by all ages, abilities and genders and we would encourage clubs to provide a variety of mixed competitions, gender specific and alternative formats such has 9 holes throughout the year".
“We are looking at ways to encourage greater uptake of these policies in the way we work with clubs, but encouraging greater inclusion of women, girls and people with a disability has long been a central plank of our work.”
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