Unions report ‘surge’ in female participation in golf

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 25, 2016 11:59

Both England Golf and the Golf Union of Wales have issued a statement saying their countries are now witnessing a surge in female participation of the game.

The almost identical releases state: ‘The future looks bright for women’s and girls’ golf across Great Britain and Ireland, with new data revealing a surge in the number of females becoming involved in the sport.’

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In Wales the new data appears to surround the ‘New2Golf’ beginner scheme, in which the majority of participations  – 54 per cent – are female, and over half of them convert to club trial membership.

In England, initiatives in 2015 attracted over 1,200 women to coaching and over 360 became club members. Five counties reported an increase in women’s membership and 15 counties saw an increase in girls’ memberships.

Over the last decade, females have made up only approximately 14 per cent of golf club membership in Great Britain and Ireland, lagging far behind other European countries such as Germany, Austria and Sweden, and in recent years, all of the UK’s amateur golf bodies have focused on attracting more women and girls to play. It is not yet known if the latest progress has boosted that percentage figure however.

The Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) is running its ‘Get into Golf programme for Women’ for a third year, with the average conversion rate into membership 60 per cent in 2015. In Scotland, over 100 clubs across the country are now running Get into Golf coaching programmes and 86 per cent of the participants in 2015 were women.

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As well as the continued work of the golfing bodies, national campaigns such as the #ThisGirlGolfs video and positive support from high-profile figures and avid golfers such as Denise van Outen and Naga Munchetty are helping to change perceptions of the game once dominated by men.

Richard Dixon, CEO of the Golf Union of Wales, said: “Our New2Golf scheme, which was development and rolled out in April 2012, has been a huge success for us here in Wales. It’s proven to us how many women are eager to get involved in golf and give it a try.

“Over half the participants in the scheme have been female and they are going on to take up flexible trial memberships that the clubs are offering.

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“I think the appeal of these sessions is that there is little or no cost, they run as a group so women feel less intimidated and there’s a real social element which we know from research women and girls are motivated by.

“We want to see more women become part of their golfing community. Golf clubs can be a real hub in the community and somewhere women can learn a lifelong skill, improve their health and well-being and make lifelong friends.”

New2Golf participant, Lorry Davies, has recently joined her local club with the new female specific membership. “Before starting the New2Golf lessons I’d always been sporty although I had never swung a golf club but wanted to try something new,” she said.

“Since the lessons I’ve become totally hooked and this flexible membership allows me to continue to learn a game that I hope to play for life”.

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Recently retired, Rowena McArtney, has also joined her local club after taking part in the New2Golf scheme. “I’ve been a novice golfer for a few years but felt that I wasn’t making much progress until I discovered the New2Golf sessions,” said McArtney.

“Expert tuition, and patience, and the opportunity to get together with other learners has really improved my ability and confidence. It’s been good to have fun and make new friends whilst learning both during the lessons and in my first competition,” she added.

Lauren Spray, England Golf Women and Girls’ Participation manager, said: “These results show that the momentum is definitely building in the campaign to get more women and girls playing golf.

“It’s reflected by projects such as Girls Golf Rocks, which we run jointly with the Golf Foundation and has been hugely successful, encouraging over 500 girls to try golf in just nine counties.

“This summer we’re holding women’s and family golf months to highlight Get into golf opportunities and, by working closely with clubs, we’re reaching and inspiring women and girls who have never thought about trying golf.

“We’ve discovered that there’s an enormous appetite for the game among the female population, with almost 70 per cent of all our online bookings for Get into golf coaching courses being made by women.”

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Nicky Greenacre

Norfolk’s Nicky Greenacre took up the game almost four years ago when she joined a Get into golf course at Bawburgh Golf Club, just outside Norwich.

At the end of her course she took more lessons and then had a three-month trial membership before joining the club, getting a handicap and throwing herself into the sport. She loves the game so much she encourages friends and family to Get into golf.

“I love being outside and I like all the walking,” said Nicky, as she summed up the appeal of the game. “I think my shape is changing, I’ve just turned 52 and I feel I’ve got my waist back with all the walking and swinging!”

She enjoys meeting new people, sharing good-natured banter on the course and both the competition and the social life. Nicky is a fan of mixed and team golf, such as Texas scrambles, and recommends these to newcomers to the game. “They’re a great way to relax and enjoy yourself,” she said. “Don’t get frustrated about a handicap, just make sure you have fun.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 25, 2016 11:59
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1 Comment

  1. S. Forrest July 25, 14:41

    Good post. It certainly is gaining momentum, as the lady golf specialist in the UK we have seen a good number of ladies not only use us for their golf holidays – why go elsewhere when there is a lady golf travel specialist? but also for the events we are running for Breast Cancer Care this year and last sponsored by the Andalusian Tourist Board. Our ladies like the diversity of what we offer couple this with being lady golfers ourselves we offer golf that appeals to the ladies specifically without passing judgement and making a lot of friends along the way. We are very happy to grow the game of golf for women and have been appointed by local authorities to do just that too. All is rosy in the lady golfer garden with Red Tee Breaks. Email sarah@redteebreaks.com if you want help with your golf

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