England and Wales are reflecting on success after the appointment of new development co-ordinators to grow women and girls’ golf.
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.
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 R&A Women in Golf Charter, launched in 2018.
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, with Simon Lu appointed as new Women and Girls Co-ordinator and driving progress
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.
Fun and friendly
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 aided by Women and Girls Co-ordinator Lucy Blakey.
England Golf highlights include:
- 112 facilities used across England to roll out the Girls Golf Rocks programme in 2019
- 1,856 girls took part in taster sessions and 930 of these came back for coaching sessions
- 102 have so far gone on to take up a form of club membership
- 77% of girls involved in the programme were aged 5-10 years of age
- 166 girls’ ambassadors signed up from clubs across counties
- Women on Par saw 622 women from 34 clubs involved
Wales Golf highlights include:
- A record number of participants in New2Golf club schemes in Wales of 1,832 (a 19% increase from 2017), with female adults increasing by 38%
- 56% of New2Golf participants were female (55% in 2017 and 50% in 2016) and 58% of all participants converted to trial membership (1% up from 2017)
- 66 clubs ran New2Golf schemes compared to 52 clubs in 2017
- Increase in girls’ participation (over double since previous survey) as highlighted in the National School Sports Survey – 14,500 to 30,000
England Golf also co-ordinated the successful second staging of Women and Girls’ Golf Week in 2019, supported by Wales and other golf bodies across Great Britain and Ireland.
Engagement and participation
The awareness week, timed to coincide with the AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn, generated over 12 million Twitter impressions through its #WhyIGolf hashtag, surpassing the number generated during the 2018 campaign, while raising engagement and participation at club level.
Both Blakey and Lu are pleased with the progress in their women and girls’ roles to date and hope to build on achievements.
Blakey said: “It is 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. There was such a positive buzz around all the events last year and we can’t wait to carry this forward into 2020.”
Lu, who joined Wales Golf from Race Equality First, added: “We are really happy with the progress made in such a short space of time regarding women and girls’ golf in Wales. We have seen fantastic support from golf clubs around Wales in developing the game for women and girls with both groups seeing an increase in club membership.
Women in Golf Charter
“Clubs are proactively addressing the gender gap and with hugely effective initiatives, such as Girls Golf Cymru and The R&A Women in Golf Charter, we are making significant strides in making golf everyone's game, anywhere.
“We are just collecting the 2019 figures across our women and girls’ work and we are already beating the 2018 New2Golf record figures, so there should be more good news to follow!”
Approximately 10% of Welsh clubs have signed up to the Women in Golf Charter with many in the process of signing up. Conwy GC was the first club in the world to sign up. In England, five clubs, including Walton Heath, are currently signed up to the Charter while another 30 are actively working towards that status for 2020.
Gaining the support of national associations and organisations was the first phase of the Charter, before the process began to support individual clubs in signing up.
To date, over 150 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, as well as giving women wider opportunities to enjoy careers and volunteering in the sport.