This International Women's Day, Women & Golf speak to Jessica Ormrod from Pitch about her personal mission to #InspireInclusion for women in golf

Pitch takes the best elements of a traditional golf club and reshapes them to create an enhanced golfing experience. Their venues combine cutting edge technology with world class coaching in thoughtfully designed surroundings. Whether you’re playing, warming down with a drink or meeting friends, you’ll be doing it in style – we’re building a new kind of golfing community and you’re all welcome.

Women & Golf visited Pitch in 2021 and were impressed by the set-up there. A lot has changed since then, so we took the time to speak to Jessica Ormrod, COO, to find out more and to hear why she is personally so passionate about running events and creating a golf community specifically for women.

Tell us a bit more about your role at Pitch

My title is Chief Operating Officer. However, I feel that that title is a little misleading! When people hear the operating part of it, they think it must be very much related to the hospitality side of the business.

I’ve ended up doing a lot across all areas of the business. My background isn’t golf, I am very much a beginner golfer, I came to Pitch with experience as a film and stills producer and having worked in marketing.

I look at it as being more like project management. I head up everything to do with HR, business strategy and development, internal systems and procedures. I also look after the marketing team who cover everything from social media to branding, paid campaigns to website development. My involvement extends to events and the fantastic team we have running them.

For me, it's really freeing, because it's kind of anything I want to get my teeth into. Particularly because it's a growing business, there's always new opportunities to try something new. So that's my role, anything and everything you could say!

When it comes to hiring staff at Pitch, I try to ensure that we have gender equality amongst our teams. I also try to mentor other women in the business, because I think raising women’s confidence and giving them more of a voice in the industry is also really important.

Why has Pitch had such a drive to make golf more inclusive and get more women playing?

Initially, it was me who was driving it, I've always had an interest in feminism. Pre-working at Pitch, I believed that golf wasn’t my space, it was not welcoming towards women, in that everyone I knew who played golf was a man. It was always that the ‘boys were going to play golf’. As an onlooker into the sport, I didn't feel like it was open to women and I didn't or wouldn't have known where to start.

When I started working at Pitch, I then saw that there were women that play, but that there was a lot of work to be done. I also saw the opportunity to do something that could help more women get into golf and if I am honest, help me to find other women to play golf with.

It got me thinking about what we could do here at Pitch. One hurdle which was easy to overcome was the costs of hiring a venue, we already had one!

Tell us about how the women’s events started?

I spoke with golf presenter Mia Baker, who had been using our City venue to practice in, and came up with our first event, which was pitched at a younger audience, due to her followers.

Pitch event with Mia Baker
Pitch event with adidas and Mia Baker

I then wanted to host a women’s specific event. I thought it would be really cool to create this safe space that women could come down to, it’s about golf, but it’s not about it being golf through and through.

We tried to broaden the audience by adding some non-golf elements, just to tone down the golf element ever so slightly and make it more accessible. We did a couple of events, which were hugely successful, and it was so great to partner with Mia! It was really heartwarming for me when some women at the events came up to me to say that they had made a new friend, become part of this new Whatsapp group and were going to play golf that weekend.

To me, it’s about being part of but also creating a community. If you can connect people and make them feel like they shouldn't be self conscious, they shouldn't be embarrassed to try something new, then that's half the work done.

You have a successful partnership with adidas, will there be more events this year?

We’re just about to launch our 2024 women’s events and Academy with adidas, which I’m super excited about. Last year we ran five events and launched an Academy which had 100 women in it. The Academy offered five lessons at pitch and five practice hours.

The idea being that they were total beginners, and after the five lessons and five practice hours, that would give them enough to get onto the course, essentially, and that they would also meet other women, create a community, create those friendships, and that meant that they would then stay in the sport for longer. This year we’re hoping to partner with a local club to also host a graduation party.

Pitch London

Our combined aim over the next couple of years is to introduce 500 women to golf through the Academy, and hopefully many, many more through the events. It’s so great to work with adidas, such a strong brand who’s aligned with our views on getting more women into golf.

The number of indoor golf venues has grown rapidly in recent years, what sets Pitch apart and how do you feel about other venues hosting women’s events?

The reason I think we’re different to other indoor golf businesses is that we try to be as inclusive as possible but also create a space that’s social, relaxed and isn’t too focused on serious golf, so that anybody from a beginner to a super experienced pro would want to come and hang out. Where you become part of a community. The next stage is very much to make a Pitch lifestyle.

At every single Pitch venue we're making sure that we pledge our commitment to inclusivity and diversity and growing the game in a positive way, whilst modernising the sport.

I don’t believe there should be an us and them, indoor versus indoor or indoor versus outdoor. At Pitch we’ve very much held the perspective and the belief that if we can get more women into golf, and if that includes inspiring another venue to do a women's event, then that's what we want to achieve. The more we can spread the word and encourage more women to get into golf, the better. We don't want to be the only people doing this.

Any other exciting plans for Pitch in 2024?

Our third London venue, which we hope to have open soon, will have a capacity of 300. It would be really cool to have that many women in one space! We also want to start opening up to do events like women's panel discussions, to people in industry talking up about their experience in golf, the barriers that they've had to overcome to get more women talking about things like you know, golf fashion for example. And hopefully, throughout this always maintaining a safe space for women to feel comfortable to try a sport or to meet other women.

If you're interested in finding out more about Pitch and their 2024 women's golf events, visit their website here.