Burnham & Berrow GC: leading the way to get ladies into golf
It is said there are lies, damned lies and statistics. But numbers can tell you everything about the wider state of women and girls in golf.
There were 662,000 members of clubs in England in 2015. Of those, only 95,500 were female. How to level up the scales is a question that has vexed golf’s governing bodies.
Campaigns such as Get Into Golf, #ThisGirlGolfs and GirlsGolfRocks are all aiming to entice more women and girls to take up the game. And they are starting to have an impact. There are signs the needle is turning. Studies show participation is up and that more potential players are picking up clubs for the first time.
A lot of that is down to places like Burnham & Berrow. The Somerset course is one of Britain’s best, boasting 27 glorious links holes among the sand dunes of the Bristol Channel coast. Having signed up to England Golf’s Get Into Golf scheme, the club have not rested on their laurels when it has come to attracting new women members.
With professional Sarah Burnell at the helm, they have worked hard to get women and girls into the clubhouse – and
then keep them there. Burnell joined the course’s team of professionals about 16 months ago and set to work developing a strategy that would have an immediate impact, regardless of its humble beginnings.
“We had four taster sessions last year and we had 18 ladies on the days. Fifteen went on to coaching and we had three new lady members as a result,” she said. “What we did was fix them up with other lady members.
What I’ve found in the past is that there is a hurdle getting from the lessons to the golf course. This aimed to ease them into the golf. “It was about making friends and people encouraging others. From there, if they really enjoyed it, we offered 12-month memberships at reduced rates and without a joining fee. There was a real incentive to make the
What also helped was Burnham & Berrow’s 9-hole Channel course. Aimed at introducing new players to the game, rather than forcing them to dive head first into the difficult Championship links, it meant golf wasn’t just about
bashing balls on a range.
It’s helped this year to bring 33 further ladies into the club following new taster days in May, June and July. Of those,
two thirds have signed up for more lessons.
“Ladies can also join for two months, find a buddy on the Channel course and have a couple of months with them,”
said lady captain Sue Wall. “That has been very successful and several ladies have joined and taken up golf.
Another two or three groups have also been having improver lessons. The average age of our ladies’ section is quite high. We are very much looking to bring in younger golfers.
“The Channel course is a great asset for the ladies before moving on to the Championship course. Seven have transferred already this year.
Burnell has stressed that younger element and a key part of her programme has been appealing to ladies to come with a friend or with their families. Getting two or three generations involved has proved successful. So has utilising social media, as Wall explained: “We’ve had good feedback from our Burnham & Berrow Ladies Golf Facebook group.
“We have promoted it and shared it and it has had great interest. “We have had a recruitment committee and they have worked really hard.”
So with clubs trying to find the ready formula that will bring more women and girls into golf, what is Burnham & Berrow’s advice? You have got to go and work hard at it,” said Wall. “They won’t come to you, you have to go and find them and encourage them to give it a go.”