The future looks bright for women’s and girls’ golf across Great Britain and Ireland, with new data revealing a surge in the number of females becoming involved in the sport.
Fuelled by an en exciting group of female professionals, national media campaigns and the efforts of golf’s governing bodies, golf participation among women is on the increase, as the sport continues to work hard to attract new players to the game and convert them into membership.
Over the last decade, females have made up only approximately 14% of golf club membership in GB&I , lagging behind other European countries such as Germany, Austria and Sweden, but significant progress is being made according to new data from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
In recent years, all of the amateur golf bodies in GB&I have put a renewed focus on attracting more women and girls to play and the latest participation figures are encouraging.
For example, Get into Golf, a national campaign supported by the amateur bodies, The European Tour, The Ladies European Tour, The PGA, The Golf Foundation, The R&A and recently backed by Sky Sports, appears to be having an effect.
The Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) is running its ‘Get into Golf programme for Women’ for a third year, with the average conversion rate into membership 60% in 2015. In Scotland, over 100 clubs across the country are now running Get into Golf coaching programmes and 86% of the participants in 2015 were women.
In Wales, over half the participants in their ‘New2Golf’ beginner schemes are female (54%), with over 50% converting to club trial membership. Meantime, across the border in England, their initiatives in 2015 attracted over 1,200 women to coaching and over 360 became club members. Five counties reported an increase in women’s membership , and 15 counties saw an increase in girls’ memberships.
As well as the continued work of the golfing bodies, national campaigns such as the #ThisGirlGolfs video and positive support from high-profile figures and avid golfers such as Denise van Outen and Naga Munchetty are helping to change perceptions of the game once dominated by men.
A group of leading female GB&I professionals including Charley Hull, Amy Boulden (Wales), Pamela Pretswell and Rebecca Codd are also inspiring girls to pick up a club.
Major events in 2016 such as the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn this week and the return of golf to the Rio Olympics next month will also provide opportunities to build on the work achieved and profile and celebrate women’s golf yet further, with the Solheim Cup – golf’s leading women’s team event – also returning to Scotland at Gleneagles in 2019.
Richard Dixon Wales Golf CEO said,“Our New2Golf scheme, which was development and rolled out in April 2012has been a huge success for us here in Wales. It’s proven to us how many women are eager to get involved in golf and give it a try.
“Over half the participants in the scheme have been female and they are going on to take up flexible trial memberships that the clubs are offering.
“I think the appeal of these sessions is that there is little or no cost, they run as a group so women feel less intimidated and there’s a real social element which we know from research women and girls are motivated by.
“We want to see more women become part of their golfing community. Golf clubs can be a real hub in the community and somewhere women can learn a lifelong skill, improve their health and well-being and make lifelong friends,” said Dixon.
New2Golf participant, Lorry Davies has recently joined her local club with the new female specific membership,“Before starting the New2Golf lessons I’d always been sporty although I had never swung a golf club but wanted to try something new,” she said.
“Since the lessons I’ve become totally hooked and this flexible membership allows me to continue to learn a game that I hope to play for life”.
Recently retired, Rowena McArtney has also joined her local club after taking part in the New2Golf scheme, “I’ve been a novice golfer for a few years but felt that I wasn’t making much progress until I discovered the New2Golf sessions,” said McArtney.
“Expert tuition (and patience!) and the opportunity to get together with other learners has really improved my ability and confidence. It’s been good to have fun and make new friends whilst learning both during the lessons and in my first competition. Roll on the summer and the opportunity to continue to build on this!” she added.
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