The R&A’s drive to increase the number of women and girls participating in golf and to encourage more opportunities for women to work within the sport has been reflected in early success for the new Women in Golf Charter.
Launched last May in London, the Charter set out to inspire an industry-wide commitment to developing a more inclusive culture within golf globally. It is designed to encourage actions that enable more women and girls to flourish and maximise their potential within the golf industry at all levels.
To date, 107 organisations have given their commitment to the Charter, pledging to build on current initiatives and develop new projects to increase the number of women, girls and families playing golf and becoming members of clubs, as well as giving women wider opportunities to enjoy careers and volunteering in the sport.
These include national federations such as Golf Canada – which held its inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit last year linked to the staging of the CP Women’s Open – Golf Australia; New Zealand Golf; the Italian Golf Federation; England Golf; Scottish Golf; and Wales Golf.
Other organisations who have adopted the Charter include the PGA TOUR; the European Tour; the Ladies’ European Tour; the Professional Golfers’ Association; the Golf Foundation; the PGAs of Europe; the European Disabled Golf Association; the ANNIKA Foundation; IMG; VisitScotland and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf.
Mastercard, the official card of The Open, is also the first R&A Patron to sign up. Various other organisations offering their support include the Association of Golf Writers and GOLFNOW.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are encouraged by the number of organisations who have recognised the importance of the Charter for the sport and pledged their support.
“It is a positive start but we need an industry-wide commitment to the Charter and support for measures that will foster a more inclusive culture within the sport and enable women and girls to reach their full potential.”
While achieving the commitment of national federations and organisations was one of the first aims of the Charter, the process for clubs and regional bodies to sign up is also now gathering pace.
Conwy, which will stage the 2020 Curtis Cup in Wales, is the first golf club to sign up to the Charter.
Boldon, based in Tyne & Wear, is the first English club to sign, followed by commitments from Open venues Royal Portrush, St Andrews Links Trust and Carnoustie Golf Links.
Fulford, venue for the Girls Under 16 Amateur Championship, has also committed, along with The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Blairgowrie, North Berwick and Royal Dornoch.
“Gaining the support of national associations and organisations was the first phase of our plan,” added Slumbers. “We have also worked closely with them to collectively agree a process to support individual clubs in adopting the Charter and gain real momentum.
“The national body is the point of contact and will directly liaise with clubs in determining commitments to the Charter should a club wish to become a signatory.
“We would like national associations, with the involvement of clubs, to set targets for participation and membership as we look to increase the number of women, girls and families playing the sport.”
Overview of Women and Girls developments in 2018
- In 2018, The R&A provided an initial three-year funding package of £375,000 to its affiliates in Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to support the appointment of new development managers to work on increasing participation by women and girls
- The funding is part of The R&A’s plans to increase its overall investment in women’s, girls’ and mixed golf to £80 million over the next ten years, with the Charter underpinning this work
- In Ireland, junior girls’ membership was up nearly 1%, as was overall female membership – the first time the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union (ILGU) has seen an overall growth in membership since 2008. The Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) and the ILGU recently agreed to form a new body, known as Golf Ireland
- Within England Golf, participation among women and girls increased from 15% to 17%, while the Girls Golf Rocks programme grew from 15 counties and 72 clubs in 2017 to 21 counties and 98 clubs for 2018
- Across Great Britain and Ireland, over 25,000 women and girls from over 1,100 clubs played in The R&A’s 2018 Coronation Foursomes
- In February 2018, Golf Australia’s plan to challenge female participation was launched – ‘Vision 2025: The future of women and girls in golf’
- New Zealand Golf has expanded investment into She Loves Golf – an initiative aimed at changing the perception of golf for women and inspiring participation
- Oman Golf launched a ‘Go Ladies’ beginner programme to illustrate the global appeal of the Charter in developing countries
- The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association has launched a ‘Women in Turf Care’ programme to encourage more female greenkeepers
- The Professional Golfers’ Associations’ #WeLoveGolf campaign and TopGolf teamed up to drive women’s interest in trying out golf, with almost 100 women having the chance to hit their first golf ball in a fun and friendly environment
- Mastercard will partner with The R&A across various areas, including STEM Education to develop an evergreen golf version of their Girls4Tech proprietary curriculum that inspires girls to pursue careers in STEM
- Syngenta, one of the first organisations to sign up to the Charter, is taking actions centred around research, diversity and growing the game, particularly around boosting psychological well-being through golf
- A new and engaging golf campaign, aimed specifically at encouraging more women to travel to Scotland to play golf, was recently announced by VisitScotland. The #HerScotland campaign will be used to help raise awareness of The 2019 Solheim Cup
- On the European Tour, men and women competed side-by-side in 2018. The Trophée Hassan II and Lalla Meryem Cup were held simultaneously at the same venue in Morocco, while Georgia Hall, Charley Hull, Mel Reid, Carlota Ciganda and Catriona Matthew competed in the second edition of GolfSixes, the latter alongside Thomas Bjørn in a ‘Captains’ Team.’
- In addition, the men’s and women’s competitions ran side-by-side in the Vic Open in Australia last week. Furthermore, the European Tour is actively pursuing initiatives to enhance and promote diversity in their workforce.