In March of this year, Sport Ireland activated their Women in Sport Policy. The Policy included an increase in Women in Sport (WIS) funding to the sum of €3million and now, following a competitive-bid process, the funding allocated to WIS initiatives for 2019 and 2020 were announced. It was confirmed that golf will receive €200,000 to part fund the new Level Par programme, an initiative tasked to establish fairness for all within golf.
A key component of the Golf Ireland proposal, voted on by clubs in January, stated that the new governing body for golf in Ireland would promote equality and inclusivity. Thirty years ago, just 13% of female members were allowed to attend their club AGM, with only 7% having a vote. Today, over 50% of female members have chosen to obtain full membership, making this one of the largest shifts in modern day club membership.
Women and girls represent 22% of membership across 400 clubs in Ireland. While this is significantly higher than other home nations, in countries such as Germany female players account for 37% of members. This highlights a clear opportunity to voice the views of women and improve support structures available to clubs as the transition period towards Golf Ireland continues.
Level Par will be led by the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland. It will offer leadership, guidance and support to clubs on how they can maximise the inclusion of women and girls from grassroots to management committees.
Removing barriers and providing clear pathways to increase involvement of women and girls of all ages, abilities and backgrounds is a core value of the programme which has been split into four pillars to mirror those included in Sport Ireland’s policy:
– Coaching & Officiating
– Active Participation
– Leadership & Governance
The Level Par Activators programme has already been launched as a pilot this summer where amateur golfers were welcomed to assist PGA Professionals in delivering golf sessions to Juniors. A Level Par Coaching and Mentoring programme is planned to provide female PGA Professionals the opportunity to develop and learn from industry leaders. Projects to target participation of women under 40 and educational seminars for women involved in golf club governance are additional components of Level Par which will be underpinned by constant communication showcasing the importance of each pillar.
Overall, the programme aims to strengthen the focus on gender balance and provide a united position for the golf industry in Ireland. Increasing the number of women, girls and families participating in golf continues to be important while additionally increasing the number of women progressing to leadership roles at all levels.
“Level Par will set targets for participation, coaching, officiating, leadership and membership for women and girls,” explained Sinead Heraty, Chief Executive of the ILGU. “In the transition to Golf Ireland we want to support clubs to develop an inclusive, welcoming and inspiring environment for all within golf.”
Pat Finn, CEO of the GUI said: “For golf to thrive into the future there is a need for a more equal environment which embraces women and families. We’re confident that these latest initiatives will be of significant benefit to our game as we prepare for the launch of Golf Ireland.”
Further information regarding the Level Par programme will be shared in the coming weeks.