In the seasons of 2000 and 2001, Karrie Webb was arguably the second best player on the planet behind Tiger Woods. Winning Majors at will, golf journalists all around the world wanted soundbites of the likeable Queenslander at every turn. While she certainly wasn’t alone, Webb was never as forthcoming as the scribes would have liked. Like Tiger, she preferred to let her swing do the talking and left the media game for others to entertain.
But she’s making up for all that now, leading the charge for equality in golf and playing a leading – and very vocal – role in the promotion of Golf Australia’s “Vision 2025” – a national strategy that aims to position golf as a sport where women and girls are inspired to participate, feel welcomed and nurtured throughout, and empowered to achieve their goals.
Webb, who recently revealed via an Instagram chat that she would have liked to become a journalist had she not been a world-beater on the fairways, took time out with Australian Golf Digest editor-in-chief Brad Clifton to chat about all things golf. Among the topics, her new venture in golf-course architecture with Ross Perrett, easing into semi-retirement, nurturing Australia’s next generation and, inquisitively, how do we get more women on golf magazine covers?
It was a fair question, if not a difficult one to answer in a sport that hides commercial sensitivities at both the amateur and professional level.
“Why can’t our country’s No.1 event (Women’s Australian Open) get airtime on commercial TV? Why don’t our equipment companies use more women in their marketing? Sadly, the commercial reality of golf right now is it still feeds off the men’s tour at every opportunity,” says Clifton.
“It’s a reality that isn’t right and for as long as it lasts, never will be. But that doesn’t mean it has to remain the status quo. Attitudes can change and what warrants the corporate dollar can definitely be influenced through groundbreaking tournaments like the Vic Open that pit the ladies with the men. But everyone has to buy in, not just the media.”
As author C. Joybell C. once coined: “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
This month, Australian Golf Digest took such a leap, answering the call of the Queen of Australian Golf by putting our latest Major champion, Hannah Green, front and centre ahead of the boys. It was in no way intended to be a back-slapping exercise for those at AGD HQ. Far from it. Putting a young woman – one who has achieved more in golf than any other player in this country over the past 12 months no less – on a magazine cover doesn’t warrant applause. It’s just warranted.
Webb agreed, taking time to pen her thoughts on Australian Golf Digest’s May cover via Twitter:
Wise words from Webb, an undoubted rockstar of the game who, for whatever reason, perhaps never did get her due in the media during the peak of her powers. But it’s her last line that was particularly poignant: “Is it so wrong of me to want this generation and future generations to have it better than I did?”
Golf Australia’s Female Engagement Senior Manager Chyloe Kurdas backed Webb up with this stark piece of reality: “If every person and segment of our industry advocated for and celebrated women, I wouldn’t have a job,” she says.
Shame on us all. We can, and must, do better. Thankfully, seven-time Major winner and Hall-of-Famer Karrie Webb has found her voice, and the game – male and female – will be better for it.