Zoe Thacker, Director of Development at Wales Golf, shares her perspective on the ways in which the sport needs to adapt to secure its future.

By Wales Golf

Historically golf has been a male-dominated sport. In 2024, there are still clubs that restrict women’s access to prime tee times, run non-inclusive competitions, have less favourable facilities for women, and (if they do allow mixed competitions) have separate women’s results. With all the progress that has been made in recent decades to achieve gender balance, it’s bizarre these kinds of practices can slip through the net.

Cultural change

Wales Golf is headed up by CEO Hannah McAllister. Over 50% of her team is female, and we have an even gender split on our Board as well. You can see where I’m going with this…

As a golfing organisation, we are unique (probably globally) in our female leadership. Through our new strategy: Everyone’s Game, we’re determined to use our position to make sure everyone has the opportunity to fall in love with golf and can progress to the level they wish.

For women, that extends further than just playing the game: we need more female representation, including club captains and coaches, volunteers, instructors, and board members. Women have been underrepresented in leadership positions within golf clubs, such as on boards or committees, which can influence club policies and decision-making processes.

There are changes to policy we can make – like insisting every club in Wales has an Equality and Diversity policy, which we’ve done.

However, this in itself isn’t enough to encourage women and girls to get into golf, or provide the welcome they need when they do. The cultural change that needs to happen is a lot more difficult to instil.

Clubs that offer free membership to women don’t see membership numbers spike. Why? Because women consume golf in a completely different way to men and the cost is often irrelevant.

Typically, a man who wants to get into golf will borrow or buy golf clubs, sign up, play with confidence regardless of performance, and gradually pick it up over time just by going out on the course with friends.

Many women don't get into golf that way. All our evidence shows that on average, it will take a woman two to three years to go from complete beginner to a competent, confident club member.

New2Golf programme

Wales Golf’s flagship scheme, New2Golf has had a 60% take up by women. The series of golf lessons is paired with mentoring, fun competitions, and lots of social events. Equipment is provided, there is no formal dress, and it's very relaxed. 55 Welsh clubs ran the scheme in 2022.

Through our new strategy, we are working to create a gradual cultural shift that will result in clubs being much more inclusive across the board - not just to women and girls. The future of golf relies on it becoming a thriving sport to be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of gender, age, financial means, impairment etc.

More and more golf clubs are recognising that in order to ensure golf is around in 50 years’ time, they must diversify.

The impact inclusivity can have is illustrated well when we look at resort vs private member clubs. Resorts need to make money on a different scale and recognise the importance of good customer service. What’s good customer service when it comes to a golf club? Making sure everyone feels welcome and has a brilliant time.


Member clubs need to become more family-focused - the hub of the community. I’m not a golf club member myself, so when I think about what we’re trying to achieve at Wales Golf, I think about how easy (or difficult) it would be for me to play the sport with my 8-year old son and perhaps my mum and dad. What would the welcome be like? Would there be flexibility of tee times? Would we feel supported?

We can learn a lot from Scandinavian countries that have made great progress in creating a more equal gender split in clubs.

Golf is a fantastic way to keep fit, find connection with nature, make friends, and improve mental health. It should be open to all, and at Wales Golf we’re really walking the talk – encouraging clubs to create more diverse leadership teams, and using our own organisation as an example of how it can benefit a business.

Wales Golf's vision

Our vision includes things like modernising language used (phasing out the term ‘ladies’ for example), flexible tee times, female golf equipment and clothing in pro shops – with a wide variety of sizes to accommodate all body types, family friendly facilities, more mixed gender competitions and social opportunities, and changing areas designed to meet the needs of all genders.

The relaxing of some traditions and more inclusive, accessible environment at clubs will create a more welcoming environment for many other underrepresented groups, not just women and girls.