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Norway driving female participation in golf

The R&A
10 Jan 23
3 mins

By encouraging female volunteers and training female coaches, the Norwegian Golf Federation is boosting girls’ and women’s participation in the country.

An objective of golf federations across the globe is to increase female participation, not only to bring more girls and women into the game as players but also as coaches and leaders, to inspire the next generations and grow the sport. The Norwegian Golf Federation (NGF) is setting a standard for gender equality in golf, making a commitment to focus on girls and women’s golf development. Suzann Pettersen, who holed the winning putt for Europe at the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in 2019, is among the nation’s stars to look up to.

The Girls Project

Having signed The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter, the NGF is working on many levels to increase the number of females in golf, from participation through to female coach development. The NGF’s ‘Girls Project’ is committed to running events and encouraging volunteers to help inspire and coach girls across Norway. “We know that a better gender balance means a better sport,” says Fredrik Due, Head of Golf Development for the NGF. “Sport is an important arena for involvement and democracy, and this arena must be as accessible to girls and women as it is to boys and men. Both genders must have the same opportunity to become coaches in all environments and for all athletes.” The last three years have seen significant growth in female participation in Norway and this has been contributed to by an increased number of female volunteers for the juniors and girls’ projects run by the NGF. Added to that is the mentoring of elite female coaches who will help the more advanced players to get the most out of their games.
The Girls Project, which is supported by The R&A, aims to recruit coaches at different levels and to inspire and motivate women to get into, and stay in golf. 

Philosophy and practices

“We are very pleased with the female coach and tutor development programme,” says Øyvind Rojahn, Head of Elite Sports Department, at the NGF.  “This is mainly because we see that these women are growing as coaches and that they are a great help to our programme. We can also see that they are implementing a lot of the philosophy and practices that we have gone through with them into their work at the clubs they are working at. This helps us spread our philosophy – and it will eventually change the culture to a better one.” Within the NGF Girls Project, which includes participants up to 19-years-old, 25% of Level 1 Coaches are now female. In addition, 60% of volunteers recruited for the project are female. And that is clearly filtering down as there has also been an increase in the number of teenage girls looking to act as role-models for the younger participants.  “And we’re starting to see a turn-around in who is bringing the girls to the events,” says Benedikte Grøtvedt Project Manager – Women’s Golf NGF. “It started with dads and grandfathers and now we see many more mothers and grandmothers bringing them.”

Looking forward

The NGF has plans to develop women’s golf further over the coming years. They are refunding the participation fee for females participating in the coaching development programmes so long as the attendee completes 35 hours of active coaching/volunteering at their club the following year. “We hope these will be good ambassadors for recruiting further female coaches,” adds Grøtvedt. “Hopefully many of these volunteers will continue and develop as coaches themselves, staying in the game for many years.” The Girls Project, which is supported by The R&A, aims to recruit coaches at different levels and to inspire and motivate women to get into, and stay in golf. It’s part of a wider aim within NGF aiming to achieve a goal of 40% women in the organisation by 2025.

Lessons to Learn

Norway’s success with the Girls Project and in recruiting female coaches provides some key lessons:
  • The NGF sets ambitious, specific numerical targets for increasing female participation and bringing on more female coaches. They follow Key Performance Indicators to monitor progress.
  • The NGF encourages clubs to make themselves more attractive and put more focus on the wishes and needs of the non-established players, especially under-represented groups such as girls and women.
  • Clubs receive guidance in how to work systematically to train and involve more volunteers, especially women.
  • Females involved at all levels, from playing to coaching, are encouraged to spread the word. Their successes inspire others to follow.
  • There is an incentivisation for women to become involved. The refunding of their participation fee for example, as mentioned above.
  • The drive to inclusivity must involve men – men within the NGF also take responsibility for encouraging greater female participation at national, regional and local level.
For more information, contact Fredrik Due, Head of Golf Development, for the NGF on