An email we received this week from a Women & Golf reader has made us question: Are women really welcome at golf clubs?
This week, we received an email from a reader who is a nine-hole member at a golf club in Ireland. She told us:
I am a nine-hole lady member and although the GUI say clubs must include all ladies – working mums, working ladies, those with medical problems or those with young children – my club and others do not include us.
We have little access to the course as the club dictates how many days we can play, and we are left out of most competitions. The only one we can join in is on ladies’ day when they have a nine-hole competition.
So although clubs will say we fully include all ladies and everyone is welcome – they don't.
When we receive emails like this, it’s a shocking realisation of how far we have to go as an industry before women really feel they have a place in the game.
There are plenty of initiatives that are designed to tackle participation barriers and get more women into golf. But they won’t work when they’re implemented superficially like this.
It isn’t enough to just offer nine-hole memberships and hope no one notices that there isn’t actually anything for them to play in. Because what you’ll achieve is the complete opposite of what you set out to do; you end up excluding women, not including them.
I’m sure this reader isn’t alone. There are many examples of things put in place at golf clubs that on the surface seem great for women. But dig a bit deeper and all you’re left with is a half-hearted attempt to tick the box for gender equality.
And that’s the crux of it: Inclusion isn’t a tick-box exercise.
It has to be a value that is legitimately prioritised and considered at every level within golf. Not just to drive memberships but to make people (not just women) feel welcome and accepted.
What do you think? Is your club doing something great for women? I'd love to hear from you. Email me at [email protected].