COVID-19 has been devastating on many levels for many people, however there have been some silver linings. One tremendous example has been the demand for golf. Not only has golf boomed across the nation, but the largest growth area has been found in female golfers. In fact, there has been a 35 percent increase in participation in this sector since 2019.
Finally, in 2021, we have women with eagerness to play golf and more time to spend on it. This boost in female participation will have an insurmountable effect on golf now and into the future. The various Australian golf bodies have made an impact with some clever initiatives for female golfers of all ages and ability levels. With these programs in place and many more women and girls interested in golf, the future is looking bright for Australian golf.
So what initiatives are there and who has made it happen?
Vision 2025: The Future of Women and Girls in Golf National Strategy
This initiative, although initiated by Golf Australia, is a cross-organisation effort that is co-planned by six major bodies: Golf Australia, Golf WA, Golf NSW, PGA of Australia, WPGA and Golf Management Australia. Established in 2018 when female participation numbers were dwindling, the goal of Vision 2025 is to transform the sport of golf into one that is highly engaging, accessible and fully inclusive for women and girls. This plan is driven by a focus on culture and leadership and encompasses grassroots, high performance and coaching and marketing and positioning.
Even Par was created as an initiative for equality in gender in both policy and practice in golf clubs. A four-part workshop series guides clubs to create an action plan that clubs implement. It is set out by Golf Australia and is an efficient assessment tool for clubs to determine areas of strengths and areas that need improvement. It is a cleverly put together checklist that provides a transparent picture of the culture of the club. This initiative aids in dismantling former roadblocks for women and girls when joining clubs and creates opportunities for them that are equal to their gender counterparts.
Junior Girls Scholarship Program
The Junior Girls Scholarship is a program developed by the director of the Australian Golf Foundation, Bonnie Boezeman AO. She initially started the scholarship program at Sydney’s Killara Golf Club, and it has now snowballed into 230 club scholarships for girls aged between 10 and 16. The initiative was created to assist young girls in improving their golf prowess and stay in the sport during those years. The scholarships include 24 weeks of lessons plus competition rounds at the club. Each club also contributes $2,000 to go towards membership costs.
The Women’s Network
The Women’s Network is an initiative designed to create an inviting entry point for women taking up golf. In the past, women have indicated that golf is an intimidating sport and this created a reluctance to give golf a go. The WPGA has strictly female coaches working to reduce the intimidation factor. The program offers clinics for both beginners and established golfers. The WPGA’s goal is to encourage new and existing golfers and also to recruit women into the golf industry in different capacities. The PGA of Australia is also behind this initiative. With female coaches making up just 6 percent of PGA professionals across the country, the PGA is committed to introducing golf to females nationwide to potentially find future female coaches.
These initiatives, plus a little more time on our hands courtesy of COVID, are the reasons more women, young and old, are taking up golf. The fact that more women are playing golf will lead to greater gender equality, better golf-club culture and perhaps discover a larger pool of tomorrow’s superstar female professionals. Kudos to the golf bodies for their hard work and dedication – it will pay dividends.