Editor Emma Ballard looks ahead to 2024 and has three things she would like to see happen to make women's golf thrive at all levels of the game
A new year always brings a lot of time for reflection. Well it does for me anyway. In this social media age, you are bombarded with messages about achievements of the year gone by and what people’s hopes are for 2024.
It was amongst all these messages that I stopped to listen to what the Founders of The Well HQ, an organisation that is improving the female experience in sport and a favourite of ours here at Women & Golf, had to say.
One Founder, Baz Moffat, explained that she was sick of surviving and wanted to start thriving in women’s sport, whilst Dr Emma Ross added that in 2023 she had been:
“slightly frustrated by people seeing supporting women in sport as a “nice-to-do” rather than a non-negotiable. So we are leaving that behind and in 2024 I need evidence that people mean what they say when it comes to making sport better for women.”
Both of these short Instagram reels got me thinking. I’ve often felt that even though there is a lot of positive talk in the women’s golf space, I don’t see that reflected in my day-to-day work. So often women’s golf is a “nice-to-do” but nothing much is achieved.
Believe me, women’s golf is a hard place to work in, it really is a game of survival as we’re far from being equal at any level of the game. We’re making progress but that progress is at a snail’s pace.
As an industry, we have to move away from the continued male bias that we are presented with daily. Here are three things I would like to see happen in 2024:
Use the word men or go genderless
Whether it’s a Major, a new driver or the new Captain, we need to either add the word men in or make sure that a genderless reference works.
For Majors, there aren’t four Majors, there are four men’s Majors. A new driver could be marketed on swing speed rather than using men’s head and ladies flex. If appropriate, it’s Men’s and Ladies’ Captain, not Captain and Ladies Captain (obviously we’re pushing for Women in a lot of cases).
It’s more than about time that we stop seeing men as the default in a lot of these situations.
In other areas, we need to move away from gender completely. Tees, are a great example of this. Forward, middle, back, whatever you want to call them but the forward tee is not exclusively for the ladies any more than the middle and back tees being just for men.
Investment in women professionals
In my opinion, investing in women’s golf is not putting products in the hands of female influencers. I also don’t see it as partnering with a player 1000th in the World Rankings but has 40 thousand followers.
I’ll explain – the majority of female golf influencers have a following that is 80 per cent (or higher) male, so would count as marketing to men. It's time to start marketing directly to women golfers.
For deals in the professional game, I believe it should be on ability, not social followers. You will often see brand deals for young male golfers who only have 1000 followers, whilst a woman who is 100 in the world can’t get a club deal with the same number of followers.
I’d love to think that both the 100th and 1000th ranked women players could get deals but it's time to start investing in talent towards the top of the game to really see women’s professional golf rise to a new level.
As we’ve mentioned previously, Deloitte has predicted that women’s elite sport will generate revenues of US$1.28 billion in 2024. If that happens, it will be the first time women’s sport has ever broken the billion-dollar barrier.
It’s time to invest properly in women’s golf and not just as a tick-box exercise.
Include women as members and fans
Something that gets my goat every year is limited edition products that are men only. You’ll see this around the men’s Major Championships. Let’s take shoes as an example, gorgeous new shoes starting in size UK 7. Fine for me as I am size 8 but these are clearly just made for men. What about women and juniors?
It comes back to that weird idea that only men are fans of men’s golf. Believe me, women (and juniors) want to buy these products too. Oh, and as we're here, some limited edition items for women's Majors would be great too.
At club level, in a lot of cases, it’s time for change. Women may make up the minority of the members at every golf club, but that does not mean that their needs should be overlooked because the majority (men) are happy.
Equal playing rights, flexible memberships and provisions for female golfers (toilets, tees, clothing etc) are all topics I expect to see discussed in more depth and actions taken in 2024.
2024: Time to thrive
At Women & Golf, we are determined to make 2024 the year that women's golf becomes non-negotiable at all levels of the game and really thrives.
We plan to be a driving force in the women’s golf space, with no topic too tough for us to tackle. We’ll also be celebrating all the wins, sharing best practices and highlighting the clubs, brands and people that are making a difference.