Changing attitudes and flexible membership options have seen Richmond (Yorks) Golf Club women's section thrive.
Richmond (Yorks) Golf Club, situated in the historic town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, was founded in 1892 and golf has been played on the current site since 1904. The club prides itself on two things; being one of the top 50 value for money courses in the UK as well as having a rapidly growing ladies’ golf category. The club was the second in Yorkshire to sign up to The R&A Women in Golf Charter in 2020, which is helping to increase the number of women and girls participating in golf.
The success of the female category is down to, in no small part, Barbara Gregory a member of the Board of Directors and a past Lady Captain. Barbara has seen first-hand a seismic shift in the attitude of the game loved by all members – especially the women's section. Whilst the Women in Golf Charter has made an impact, courses reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic allowed Barbara to re-engage women with the game.
Building on golf's surge in popularity
“At the end of August 2020, we saw the game surge in popularity and as it was one of the few sports that people could enjoy, we wanted to make the game accessible for everyone. My passion is getting more women into golf so we began offering academy memberships targeting women.
“The membership gave women who might not have played the game before access to the academy course. It was easy to get existing members to mentor some of the new players. In my experience, golf can be a hard game to get into, when you factor in all the equipment and fees. I wanted to change that.”
Women supporting women
Barbara and her team of volunteers have worked hard to keep the costs of getting into the game relatively low. All have offered up equipment, donating golf bags, clubs and shoes to new starters. This has helped build a fantastic camaraderie amongst all the women, irrespective of age, everyone has helped welcome new players.
Barbara glows as she talks about the women at the golf club:
“When you're starting in golf, you're going to lose a lot of golf balls, it's as simple as that. In the ladies changing room, we have a bucket of balls for anyone to dip their hand into if you're short before heading out. Something this simple has helped build a fantastic spirit."
As a Director, Barbara has also focused her efforts on creating partnerships amongst the women in the club. From running a newsletter in the height of lockdown (which Barbara confesses was an ode to her animals more than a golf update) she's now the admin of a WhatsApp group that finds golfing partners for the various women looking for a game during the week.
A wide range of membership options at Richmond (Yorks)
The women’s game at Richmond (Yorks) Golf Club is in good health and Barbara says it is down to offering a wide range of membership options. The club introduced PlayMoreGolf as a way for players to access the course all year round for a relatively low cost. “It was a great opportunity to ‘upgrade’ from the academy course to the full eighteen-hole course.”
The further good news for the club is how members are stepping up between categories. Richmond started with 30 academy members in August 2020 and 50% have upgraded to PlayMoreGolf with a number progressing on to ‘full’ seven-day memberships.
This mirrors the recent findings from PlayMoreGolf, with almost half of PlayMoreGolf members that did not renew went on to upgrade to a golf club 5-day or 7-day membership category. For Richmond (Yorks), continued success, for both men’s and women’s categories in 2022 relies on welcoming a mix of ‘traditional members’ and new, flexible categories.
Find out more about introducing a flexible golf membership at your club visit: playmore.golf/club-partner.
All images courtesy of Vicky Matthers 2021
Do you have a story around the growth of the women’s game at your golf club? We’d love to hear from you. Please drop us an email [email protected]