The home nations are reflecting on success after the appointment of new development post holders to grow women and girls’ golf in their respective countries.
In the spring of 2018, The R&A continued its commitment to increase participation in golf among women and girls by providing an initial three-year funding package to support the appointment of development managers and co-ordinators in Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The investment formed part of the governing body’s drive to encourage more women, girls and families to play golf more regularly and to go on to become members of clubs.
Reflecting on their work, the recruited sports development staff have been working in partnership with various stakeholders to deliver innovative solutions and inspiring campaigns, while also supporting the aims of the Women in Golf Charter.
The Charter aims to increase women and girls’ participation and membership in golf and encourage more opportunities for women to work and volunteer in the golf industry. To date, over 180 organisations have given their commitment to the Charter.
Women and girls’ initiatives, such as New2Golf in Wales and Girls Golf Rocks in England, are helping to drive participation and membership, including an overall rise in members in Wales.
A record 1,800 participants took to New2Golf schemes in Wales (figures for 2018), a female-focused beginner initiative. Their new strategy ‘Everyone’s Game, Anywhere’ has placed a key focus on women and girls’ development.
Indeed, Wales Golf are reflecting on an increase in overall club membership for the first time in over 10 years of 2.1%. This includes a 2.7% increase in female adult members and 3.9% in female junior members.
Women and Girls’ Co-ordinator Simon Lu said: “Clubs are proactively addressing the gender gap and with hugely effective initiatives, such as Girls Golf Cymru and the Women in Golf Charter, we are making significant strides in making golf everyone's game, anywhere.”
With the support of the Golf Foundation, the Girls Golf Rocks programme continues to expand in England, also giving over 1,800 girls a taste of golf in 2019 and helping encourage over 100 into club membership. It is aimed at beginner girls aged 5 – 18 to learn and play golf in a fun and friendly way.
In England, the success of Girls Golf Rocks, together with the Women on Par initiative – which aims to encourage women from Get into Golf programmes onto golf courses – is being helped by Women and Girls Co-ordinator Lucy Blakey.
She said: “It’s a really exciting time for women and girls’ golf and we hope to continue to break down the perceived barriers associated with the game to show how inclusive golf is for all.”
In Scotland, Carol Harvey took over as Women & Young People Development Manager, with the funding for the role matched by the Scottish Government as part of The 2019 Solheim Cup project to increase female and junior participation.
Highlights have included the Solheim Cup Club Ambassador Programme, which saw 164 volunteer ambassadors recruited from 152 clubs to organise activity in clubs and communities. GolfSixes Leagues increased from two pilot leagues in 2018 to 67 clubs across 15 regional leagues in 2019, with 22% of players girls. 71 clubs also signed up to the Women in Golf Charter.
“We are looking to capitalise on a fantastic Solheim Cup by running Get into Golf workshops across the country to help clubs encourage more women into golf, as well as expanding our offering of Girls’ Golf Hubs early in 2020,” said Harvey.
In Ireland, Maria Dunne has been helping deliver success in her role as Women and Girls Co-ordinator. Having decided to finish her international golfing career at the end of 2017, the opportunity arose to join the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) team.
Already a Golf4Girls4Life (G4G4L) Ambassador, Dunne has further developed the programme to involve 96 clubs, as well as assisting Ireland’s first move into GolfSixes format with 80 clubs involved.
Dunne said: “Having played golf since the age of 10, I have experienced many of the challenges girls face when participating in golf."
"It’s exciting to see the subtle changes happening in clubs and the big impact these changes have the potential to make to the future of our game.”