Scotland and Ireland are reflecting on success after the appointment of new development managers to grow women and girls’ golf in their respective countries.
Last spring, 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 in Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Working with its affiliates around the world to enhance golf’s appeal, the investment formed part of the governing body’s drive to encourage more women, girls and families to play golf more regularly across the globe and to go on to become members of golf clubs.
Reflecting 18 months on, the recruited sports development staff have been working in partnership with golf’s various stakeholders to deliver innovative solutions and inspiring campaigns, while also supporting the aims of the Women in Golf Charter.
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.
Indeed, The Solheim Cup at Gleneagles has proved a key driver behind women and girls’ work at Scottish Golf, with the biggest team event in women’s golf, and its dramatic conclusion, catching the imagination at club level.
- Solheim Cup Club Ambassador Programme – 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 across 15 regional leagues in 2019, with 22% of players girls
- 71 clubs signed up with pledges to the Women in Golf Charter, aiming to increase women and girls’ participation and membership and encourage more women to take on volunteering and leadership roles within those clubs
- The creation of four Women and Girls’ Golf Hubs, supported by sportscotland and Solheim Cup funding, with a further expansion of these in 2020
- Young Persons Golf Panel launched with 11 young people aged 14 – 21 selected, including five girls, who presented to the Scottish Government’s Women and Girls in Sport Advisory Board about their work
Harvey, who has used experiences from her previous development role in netball, said: “This has been a hugely successful year for women and girls’ golf and we are excited to see more women and young people getting involved with these new initiatives to grow our sport. We are looking to capitalise on a fantastic Solheim Cup at Gleneagles 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.”
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, as well as developing Ireland’s first move into the popular GolfSixes format.
The implementation of G4G4L stages five and stage six began this year and provides a structure for girls until they obtain an 18 handicap. This ensures that girls can constantly monitor their personal bests and junior convenors or PGA Professionals can vary delivered activity. Lack of variety was one of the largest pieces of feedback from girls at this level previously.
- 96 clubs involved with the G4G4L programme
- G4G4L journal resources were piloted in 2017 and continue to provide clarity and guidance for PGA Pros, volunteers and girls. Just 20 clubs were using 500 journals in 2018, with 96 clubs currently using 3,800 stage 1-4 journals
- Over 280 girls participated in G4G4L Festivals in 2019
- 80 clubs participated in the first year of GolfSixes, where teams were made up of at least two boys and two girls
- 56 clubs took part in four regional GolfSixes qualifiers and 336 juniors took part, of which 41% were girls
- Almost 30 school visits in 2019 with around 2,600 pupils in primary schools given their first taster session in golf
Dunne, who was also GB&I Captain for the Junior Vagliano Trophy match this year, said: “Having played golf since the age of 10, I have experienced many of the challenges girls, in particular, face when participating in golf.
“I now have a little girl myself and I want her to grow up in an environment where boys and girls feel as if they belong in clubs and those challenges and barriers that have existed for many years are overcome.
“I have really enjoyed bringing my experiences to the design of resources, workshops and support for clubs with the CGI Participation Team and Irish Ladies’ Golf Union volunteers. 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.”
Dunne’s work also supports the 20x20 Campaign in Ireland, launched by the Federation of Irish Sport in 2018. The campaign aims to increase women’s sports media coverage, participation and attendance at key events by 20% by the end of 2020.
Of six ambassadors for the campaign, two are professional golfers in Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire, who held a festival/clinic at the ISPS Handa World Invitational in August.