This week Charlotte asks: Are toilets on the golf course key to increasing women’s participation in golf?

Having somewhere to pee on the golf course is a topic we’ve talked about before. But since our recent article on barriers to women’s participation in golf, it’s been raised again recently by a few of our readers.

I come from a family of golfers … my Dad plays, my brother plays and my Mum was always walking around the course or standing on the driving range with us.

And growing up, me or my mum peeing behind a tree was a bit of a running joke amongst us. We’d desperately be “holding it in” for as long as we possibly could, only to make a sudden dash to the closest and densest bush.

But as I got older and reached my teens? It definitely wasn’t funny anymore.

The combination of starting my period, being more body conscious and playing with teenage boys was enough to feel me with dread if I ever had to “go” on the course.

Could toilets on the course help to fix the participation gap?

I’m not a shy person. And overtime, I’ve definitely inherited my Mum’s give-a-s**t attitude (pun intended): “If you need to go, you have to go. If anyone is looking, that’s their problem”.

So after a while, I just got to used to going on the golf course.

But that’s not the answer.

Whilst I hadn’t given it too much thought before, I wonder now whether a lack of toilet facilities goes some way to explaining the participation gap of teens to 30s somethings in women’s golf.

Because there’s no question that it puts women and girls off playing. And if you throw periods into the mix, it’s downright embarrassing.

We’ve talked a lot about how making women feel comfortable at golf clubs is critical to getting them to stay in the game. And not being able to pee is the ultimate discomfort.

So why isn’t it something more clubs have addressed?

There are a few reasons that spring to mind:

  1. Toilet talk is taboo. We all pee and poo multiple times a day, and half the population have periods. But we’re still not comfortable talking about any of it.
  2. Costs and complexities. There are costs involved in setting up toilet facilities, and it’s not as simple as quickly plumbing in a loo.
  3. The majority of golf clubs are run by men, for men. It’s much simpler for them to go on the course, so toilets aren’t on their radar or as high up their list of priorities.

But none of that means we should just ignore the issue. There are solutions. Yes, time and money would have to be spent on creating more facilities, but I’m confident clubs would see a return on their investment.

Because we’ve seen time and again, that when people feel welcomed and included somewhere, they’ll keep coming back.

If toilets are going to help keep more women and girls in the game, surely it’s worth it?

What do you think: could toilets help to keep more women and girls in the game? What solutions have been implemented at your golf club? Email [email protected] to let me know.