Though there’s plenty of guidance for beginners, why is there such a void in information and support for low handicap women?
A few weeks ago, I received an email that got me thinking: In our quest to get more women and new starters into golf, have we forgotten about the low-handicap women already in the game?
There’s plenty of guidance on getting into golf and improving your game, but there's a noticeable gap when it comes to information and support for good female amateurs in the game.
I'm a PGA Professional Golfer and it's something I was definitely aware of as an amateur. And I wonder whether ignoring that whole cohort of players comes at a cost.
Jen, Ladies Division 1 Team Captain at Chartham Park Golf Club in Sussex, wrote in to say:
I'm leading a project to increase the number of low handicappers at the club. We regularly enter teams into the Division 2 and 3 leagues but struggle to keep a Division 1 team going as we only have three or four players below HI 12.1.
I’ve surfed the internet to find blogs and articles to help us answer the following question: What do low-handicap women want from a golf club?
I find lots of content from clubs, magazines and governing bodies about attracting beginners, but pretty much nothing about encouraging low-handicap golfers. Most golf club websites have a beginner’s section, but not a low handicap section. Why is this?
Why is there such a gap when it comes to providing information to sportswomen on where the best golf clubs are for people who want to play the best they can at amateur level?
Is this unique to golf or across all sports … or just women's sport?
The quest for low handicap excellence
Low handicap women golfers are a passionate and dedicated group, often overlooked in the golfing community.
They may represent a minority in terms of numbers, but their contributions to the sport are invaluable. These individuals possess the skills, drive, and competitive spirit needed to excel in amateur tournaments and inter-club matches.
However, their journey towards becoming low handicap players can be challenging, given the limited information and support available. As Jen points out, many clubs, organisations, and online resources predominantly focus on beginners and improvers, leaving a void for those striving to excel at an amateur level.
And the issue isn't unique to golf; it raises questions about the broader landscape of women's sports and how we can better serve those who aspire to reach the pinnacle of their game.
Understanding the gap
I think the gap in resources catering to low handicap women golfers can be attributed to a few factors:
A focus on beginners: Many golf clubs and organisations prioritise attracting beginners and improvers because they represent a larger demographic. Consequently, resources are channelled towards making golf more accessible to newcomers.
Lack of awareness: The lack of information for low handicap women golfers may also be due to a lack of awareness about their specific needs and preferences within the golfing community.
Historical gender disparities: Historically, golf has had a gender disparity in participation, with fewer women competing at the highest levels. This has, in turn, influenced the allocation of resources and attention.
Broader trends in women's sports: The issue extends beyond golf, reflecting broader trends in women's sports where resources tend to gravitate towards promoting participation and inclusivity rather than catering to the needs of elite athletes.
Of course, the only way we’ll grow the sport is by getting more beginners in the game. But what happens when those people aren’t beginners anymore? Surely, we have a better chance of them staying in the game if there’s a clear path for improvement, too?
Here’s how I think we can, at least, start to tackle the lack of support for elite amateur women golfers:
Diversify online resources: Clubs, governing bodies, and golf enthusiasts should work together to create more online content and resources tailored to low handicap women golfers. This could include articles, video tutorials, and forums that address their specific needs, such as course recommendations, advanced training tips and equipment advice.
Community engagement: Establishing a community or network of elite amateur women golfers can provide a platform for sharing experiences, insights, and recommendations. Clubs can facilitate this by hosting regular meetups or tournaments exclusively for this demographic of player.
Promote inclusivity: Like I’ve already said, it's essential to cater to beginners and improvers. However, clubs and organisations should also strive to create an inclusive environment that encourages and supports players beyond that. The game needs clear pathways and programmes for women aspiring to become better players.
Advocacy and awareness: Promote awareness about the importance of supporting low handicap women golfers within the golfing community and beyond. And in doing so, encourage clubs to consider the diverse needs of their members.
The quest to bridge the gap in catering to low handicap women golfers is an important one for the growth and development of women's golf. It's essential to recognise that they represent a vital part of the golfing community, and their aspirations and achievements deserve recognition and support.
By diversifying resources, promoting inclusivity, and fostering a sense of community, we can ensure that all golfers, regardless of their skill level, feel valued and empowered to reach their full potential in the sport.
And who knows – addressing this issue may help to improve the support system for elite female athletes in other sports as well.
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