New opportunities are being created for women and girls to get into golf in 2018, with more activity than ever before taking place across Great Britain and Ireland to attract larger numbers to the sport.
With increased participation in golf by women and girls identified as a tremendous growth opportunity for the sport, this year sees a notable rise in the number of dedicated participation initiatives and coaching activities being delivered by leading golfing bodies to encourage more women, girls and families into the game and convert them into club membership.
The Ladies European Tour, England Golf and the Golf Foundation will join forces at Buckinghamshire Golf Club on 13 May for an exciting women’s and girls’ development event, which coincides with the staging of the US Women’s Open Sectional Qualifier.
An afternoon of fun and enjoyable activity will feature leading golfers, women’s coaching professionals and Girls Golf Rocks ambassadors, while attendees will also be able to get up close to the Solheim Cup on display.
Meanwhile the Golf4Girls4Life programme in Ireland is flourishing and enabling clubs to independently create a positive environment for girls to take up and progress within the game.
Women’s Golf Day will take place on 5 June to celebrate women’s and girls’ golf around the world, while the national associations in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales will be promoting opportunities for women and girls of all ages and abilities to give golf a go, including Get into Golf, a national campaign supported by the European Tour, the Ladies European Tour, the PGA, the Golf Foundation and The R&A.
Meantime, England and Wales Golf are both preparing to hold Women & Girls’ Golf Weeks to inspire more players to head to the fairways. They will take place from 30 July – 5 August, building on the buzz created by the Ricoh Women’s British Open being staged that week at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Budding golfers will also have the opportunity to hone their skills with an all-female group of PGA professionals who will be on site throughout the Women’s British Open.
The Golf Club Managers Association launched a Women’s Golf Leadership Group last month, as part of their commitment to achieving greater gender equality in the golf club community.
Golf development for women and girls is also a high priority for The PGA as they continue their support for the Get into Golf and This Girl Can initiatives, with the work of PGA Professionals across the world to be highlighted through multi-channel campaigns. In addition, a number of professional and amateur events will work in tandem in 2018 with the aim of raising the profile of women’s and girls’ golf.
Golf Sixes is being staged by the European Tour at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire on 5 and 6 May when teams of leading men and women professionals will compete in an exciting format. Spectators can see the likes of Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, Suzann Pettersen, Charley Hull and Georgia Hall tee up in the innovative event.
Other major professional tournaments this year, including another historic mixed event at the Glasgow 2018 European Golf Team Championships in August, will provide opportunities to build on the progress achieved and profile women’s golf yet further, with the Solheim Cup – golf’s leading women’s international team event – also returning to Scotland at Gleneagles in 2019.
At elite amateur level, new opportunities also exist this year. The R&A, which staged the inaugural Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship in Singapore in February, is also continuing its drive to boost junior girls’ golf in Great Britain and Ireland, with the first Girls Under-16 Open Championship to be played at Fulford in York next week.
This year also represents the 65th anniversary year of the Coronation Foursomes, one of the largest domestic golf participation events with over 25,000 players, and women and girl club members are encouraged to enter this year’s event.
Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Golf Development at The R&A, said: “Women and girls continue to be an under-represented group in golf, so there is a tremendous opportunity for growing the sport if golf can enhance its appeal to women and girls, as well as families.
“The level of activity taking place across women’s and girls’ golf this year is exceptional and we look forward to continuing to work with the national associations and professional bodies to inspire more women and girls to get involved in this wonderful sport.”
The R&A has provided funding to support the appointment of development managers in Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and will soon be launching a Women in Golf Charter to galvanise the golf industry around increasing participation by women and girls and the number of women working within the sport.
In Scotland, the development post is being jointly funded by The Scottish Government as part of The 2019 Solheim Cup project.