Women's golf has been shown so much attention and love this summer, and it's essential that we make the most it, writes Harriet Shephard.
Over the last few years, there’s been so much chat within the golf industry about ‘increasing female participation’, ‘promoting inclusivity’ and other encouraging-sounding promises.
But, if you're yet to see the female memberships at your club grow at all than you can be forgiven for thinking that all these campaigns and schemes are mainly just a load of talk and not much action.
It also means that you might not take me seriously when I claim that Women and Girls’ Golf Week 2020 (or WAG week as we like to call it) is going to be awesome and that we should all get involved.
But please hear me out...
While most of this year has been difficult and confusing for all of us, women’s golf, on the other hand, seems to have come out of it very well.
This might not necessarily have led to an increase in female members just yet, but we have already seen a huge surge in interest in the game and more women and girls giving it a go.
Of course, there’s no mystery about why this has happened right at this particularly strange time in history.
Firstly, golf superstar Justin Rose basically saved every British female professional golfer’s year (and possibly careers) by creating the Rose Ladies Series.
Suddenly, the players went from having months and months of no competitive action to being part of some of the only professional sport happening in the country.
The effect was immediate.
Across social media and in the mainstream media, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and started talking about Gemma and Georgia’s back-to-back wins and who would be lifting the trophy in the Grand Final.
The competitors also got to play on two courses that had never before hosted women’s golf tournaments, proving once and for all that the women’s game involves just as much skill as the men’s, is equally as entertaining and perhaps most importantly, should be broadcast on television more.
It’s been utterly brilliant.
On top of that, golf clubs and driving ranges have seen a surge in interest and all become super busy. Many of us are having to book tee times weeks in advance and I've even had to queue for a spot on the range on several occasions. I mean, queue to get on the driving range? Since when has that happened in anyone’s living memory?
These new golfers include plenty of women, too. Whether it’s professionals with more free time due to being furloughed or working less hours, mums wanting to join in with the dads and kids or couples looking for something new to do together now that many other sports and activities aren’t back up and running yet.
My coach Ellie Robinson at Leeds Golf Centre has been over run with women wanting to take up golf or coming back to the game, and the only bad news (well, it's still good really) is that I have to wait until at least September for my next lesson as she's totally booked up.
In short, I think that we have more to celebrate this WAG week than ever before.
Of course we need to make sure that these lockdown golfers stay interested in the game when life totally returns to normal, but I think there has never been a more appropriate time for us to shout about why we love golf and all the great women and girls who play it.
Essentially, what the Rose Series did for the pros, England Golf wants to do the same for those of us playing at club level.
The governing body wants to shine a spotlight on all the amazing women and girls involved in golf, including everyone from beginners to volunteers, or from industry professionals to those who are just involved for the social side.
I know from firsthand experience that so many of you have moving, inspiring and uplifting stories about why and how you came to be involved in golf.
Ahead of the week itself (August 17 to 23), the England Golf team are asking us to share our #WhyIGolf stories either in writing or on film (this can be done simply by talking into your phone in selfie mode for a few seconds).
They will then share our stories and clips on their social media platforms, with each day dedicated to a different theme. For instance, Wednesday is all about people who play for their physical and mental health, and Friday is all about roles models and who got you playing in the first place.
It’s not just a women-only thing either. They also want sons, brothers, husbands and anyone else to get in touch about the special golfing women or girls in their life.
Oh, and it’s a global campaign, too.
So, even if you can’t go visit your friends abroad this summer or attend the AIG Women’s Open in person (also taking place during WAG Week), we can still come together where ever we are in the world to celebrate golf.
Feeling inspired yet?
Well even if that doesn’t impress you, I bet seeing story after story about the brilliant power of golf will be enough to bring on all the feels.
After all, it’s during the hard times that we realise what really matters.
The coronavirus pandemic has made so many of us more grateful than ever for golf and the friends, opportunities, exercise and everything else it provides.
It’s also essential that we come together as a community and support each other right now as we battle on through these uncertain times.
The 2018 WAG Week reached more than 2.5 million people across the globe, and with so much enthusiasum for women’s golf this summer, the 2020 edition is expected to be even bigger.
Plus, if we get a British winner (fingers crossed) at the AIG Women's Open, I predict that the campaign will absolutely explode.
Right, I’m off to do my hair before I start working on my own video entry...
I can’t WAIT to scroll through all your stories in a few weeks’ time.
How to get involved
Then, if you have something else to share during the week itself (or you just forget to do it before then), you can always post it yourself using the hashtag #WhyIGolf.