How will the R&A Women in Golf Charter help ladies golf?

News & Tour

Key figures from across the golf industry give their take on how the recently launched R&A Women in Golf Charter will change things for the better

Held in the towering heights of the Shard and attended by all the key figures in the golf industry, the launch of the R&A’s Women in Golf Charter was an exciting event.

But although the big unveiling creating a lot of noise on social media, some of us might still be confused about what it’s all about.

What is the Women in Golf Charter?

According to the R&A’s website, the Charter aims to:

  • Strengthen the focus on gender balance and provide a united position for the golf industry
  • Commit national federations and organisations to support measures targeted at increasing participation of women, girls and families in golf
  • Call on signatories to take positive action to support the recruitment, retention and progression of women working at all levels of the sport
  • Set individual targets for national federations for participation and membership and annual reporting of progress
  • Develop an inclusive environment for women and girls within golf

In summary, it will encourage the golf industry to commit to making golf more inclusive and to try and encourage more women and girls to take up the game.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are asking the golf industry to recognise the real importance of increasing the number of women and girls playing golf and empowering more women to enjoy successful careers at all levels of the sport.

“The Charter is a strong statement of intent from the golf industry that it has to change and a commitment on behalf of all of us to take measures designed to achieve positive change for women, girls and families. This is crucial to growing participation in the sport in the years ahead.

“The R&A plans to increase our overall investment in women’s, girls’ and mixed golf to £80 million over the next ten years, a clear indication of our determination to develop the game in this area.”

What is the industry saying about the Charter?

Key figures from across the golf industry give their view on why the Charter was needed, and how and why it will make a difference…

Lauren Spray, Women and Girl’s Manager at England Golf:

The Charter is very positive in uniting the golf industry with a clear focus of how we can collectively work together to really achieve an impact.

We at England Golf are about to launch our Women and Girls’ Week and this is just one of the ways we will be pledging our support to promote this under-represented group. Our week will coincide with the Ricoh Women’s British Open and highlight the many different ways in which women and girls are involved in golf. We hope it will encourage other females to tell us their story and to inspire more women and girls to take up the sport. We’re getting support from the other Home Unions and looking forward to making a real impact.

Because The R&A has taken a leading role in this area, everyone in the industry has stopped, listened and reflected on their current situation and how they can work faster and more effectively to make a difference. The power of The R&A voice adds greater emphasis to the work we are already doing to keep women’s golf in the limelight for all the right reasons!

By pooling resources and working together we can do so much more to change perceptions, challenge barriers and make golf even more accessible to women and girls.

The Jazzy Golfer, social media influencer:

The industry has been slightly fragmented, with a lot of duplication of efforts to get more women and girls playing this wonderful sport.

I believe that this charter will bring everyone in the industry together and align them to work towards one very important, shared goal. By doing this, it will definitely require everyone to do their individual bit toward the greater cause and I believe that will be what will make all the difference.

I can speak first hand about my experience feeling very out of place in a golf club environment as a young, female beginner. Therefore it would be SO amazing if women and girls could play and socialise at any golf club in the country and not only see many other women and girls around the club but also feel like they belong, that they are welcome and that they are an integral part of the golf club community.

I really do wish and hope that this will be the real turning point that will put women and girls golf on the map and get the publicity, respect and credit that it deserves.

Sophie Walker, Ladies European Tour player:

This was needed. There are too many associations, national governing bodies and golfing schemes  that all need to be aligned by the top, which in this case is R&A.

Many of my friends who I grew up golfing with are assets to clubs and the industry. I’m glad something has been put into place to maintain their involvement.

Golf for me is disjointed. To many chefs in the kitchen. Lots of people talking about what should happen but not doing anything. Action speaks louder than words. Let’s hope the R&A and its investment works.

The media to have a huge responsibility to report positively about women’s golf like they now do with football. I’m fed up of reading negative articles about what girls wear, and when women can and can’t play when there is so much good out there.

I doubt this charter will directly affect my career and the tour but in the lonerg term it looks brighter. You are preaching to the converted in terms of how good a game golf is. It’s now time to let the secret out the bag to the rest of the world. I’d like to help in any way I can with the charter and its developments.

Sarah McDonald, Country Secretary of Kent Golf Union:

The R&A Charter is a great and most welcome initiative. Kent is very encouraging of anything that gets more women into the game of golf at all levels – we have a number of female club secretaries and managers, have had the first female club captain and first female county secretary. Kent is also very much behind the ‘Girls Golf Rocks’ campaign with four centres already up and running across the county.

Whilst equality is one thing and a generally accepted term, is it actually happening in reality? Often women feel that golf is a game for ‘men only’ and if they are new to it, feel they will hold people up, are not good enough and get in the way.

It can feel somewhat daunting when walking into a golf club, pro shop or spike bar for the first time – after all, golf is a quiet game and women are generally more accustomed to a busier environment being involved with children and the every day school and home/work environment.

So yes, the Charter is refreshing and let’s hope there is plenty of support from all areas to increase the number of women participating and involved in the game of golf.

Maria Dunne, Women & Girls Co-ordinator, Confederation of Golf in Ireland:

The charter was vital for our sport. Something had to be done to develop an inclusive environment for women and girls within golf and empower more women to enjoy successful careers at all levels of the sport.

With the charter coming from the R&A to frontline the change the impact will be massive in the support they will have from governing bodies across the world which in turn is crucial to growing participation in the sport in the years ahead.

Georgina Simpson, former Ladies European Tour professional:

After 15 years as a playing professional on the Ladies European Tour and one year on the LPGA in America I am delighted that the R&A have decided to address the lack of support and recognition for Women’s Golf.

Over the span of my career I have experienced a lack of funding and support for the women’s professional game both individually and as a member of the Ladies European Tour and have seen countless wasted opportunities, up until recently, to engage the younger generation with the stars of the game.  I am therefore a little hesitant in the vast task the R&A has ahead of it but very happy that the intent is there and they are finally addressing the industry as a whole.

I now work for Lady Golfer Magazine and run the This Girl Golfs ladies events around the country.  At these days we engage with existing lady golfers and run taster sessions for ladies to give golf a try.  I have run these for two years now and it is a real struggle to find sponsorship and support from the industry to be able to run these fun-filled days.

It is fantastic that the R&A are shinning the light but it is up to each and every one of us around and within the game to do our bit too. This includes the secretary that doesn’t pass on ladies information, the newspaper that stopped covering women’s golf as a major sport, the amateur officials that follow out dated protocol and the lady member that won’t play with the junior girls. We all have to do our bit to make a real change in the sport and it is way overdue.

Emma Ballard, Marketing Manager at Medi8 Golf

Although people may have their reservations and think that the R&A is trying to dictate what they should do, I see the Charter as a great opportunity to get the golf industry working together to provide a better environment for women to play and work in golf.

Too often we see governing bodies, brands and initiatives that are all aiming to get more women and girls into golf but not joining together.

Signing the Charter shows a real commitment to making change, which can only be a good thing.

Chloe Allyn, presenter @onthegreenwithchloe:

The Women in Golf Charter will not only help create a camaraderie between the female golfers in our society, but would help build the integral interest of female golfers around the world.

We should all have the same acceptance on the golf course as our male counterparts and help those of the female gender to feel less intimidated while on the course.

The world of sports is forever changing, and golf is no exception. When I first picked up a club, I knew this was the game for me. I took some time in taking free one-on-one lessons, and once I learnt the fundamentals of the game, my swing improved dramatically and I felt confident enough to go out on the course.

I feel that the Women in Golf Charter will not only help inspire more women to play, but will encourage women to better their skills and enhance their current level.

The ultimate result would be that every golf club offers acceptance to female players and together, we can continue to enjoy the game that we have grown to love.

GolfPeach, golf blogger:

As a total golf fanatic, I still struggle to believe that I was once a university student at St Andrews with absolutely no interest in the sport. Maybe the fact that it was another 30 years after I graduated before the R&A voted to admit women as members had something to do with that. Not that I want to be a member, but it’s always nice to be asked.

That is what this charter is doing – opening doors that were once boarded up to female golfers and saying ‘come on in, you are very welcome’.

To change the culture and actively encourage girls and young women to pick up a club and try this game, play the great courses and pursue a career in golf, it is the warmth of the welcome that is most important now. Not just changing archaic rules and introducing initiatives.

I sense a definite change in the air and it is vital that the leading names and organisations in the men’s game lead the campaign to brush away the cobwebs and outdated attitudes that can still intimidate newcomers to this sport of all genders. Women don’t want to be tolerated by golf, we want to be appreciated and respected within the wonderful community of the game.

While we are changing the status quo, let’s tackle some of the conventions guarded by ‘lady golfers’ themselves. I think a relaxation of traditional clothing etiquette is overdue to help to make golf cooler and a little sexier for women who want to give the sport a different look and feel. Let’s not tell 18 year olds what to wear, let’s ask them. They may surprise us!

Anna Whiteley, presenter at Golfing World:

The R&A is the beating heart of professional and amateur golf and it’s fantastic that they’ve recognised that the sport needs to change in the hopes to encourage women and girls into the game.

We may not see the effects immediately, but the intentions certainly look good and if it continues to receive the global support that it has so far it could make a real difference
Golf has given me so much over the years and it’s very exciting to see that the empowerment of women across all levels of the game has been recognised as a key factor to the future success of the sport. Come on girls, now is the time – pick up a club and give it a go, you won’t look back!

Becki O’Grady, Director of Howley Hall, Yorkshire:

It is no secret that ladies golf has been declining rapidly for a number of years. It is imperative that work from governing bodies, golf-related organisations and clubs is done to build a future that is modern and relevant to today’s society.

The newly-launched R&A Women in Golf Charter will no doubt help with this as well as increase participation levels and help secure a solid foundation for the future. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Linda Segerstam, pilates for golf instructor and speaker, TheIntelligentCore.com:
It feels like we’ve just jumped another hurdle towards change but there is still some distance to go. There is a driving force in the golf industry this year that is opening doors to opportunities for women.
I admire the strength and resilience of the people who made the Charter happen. Having the R&A stand up and raise their voice about women in golf shows a willingness to change that needs to filter down to golf clubs.
I am looking forward to the day when the discussion is not about levelling the field for men and women but about how to progress the game together. The Women in Golf Charter will hopefully bring more female golfers into golf clubs and allow women to start a career in golf without prejudice.
I never want to get a position within golf just because I am a woman but rather because I am the best in my field for that job. Competition is good, it makes you better. I was lucky to grow up in Finland where men, women and juniors played together but I can appreciate the importance of the event that have taken place. Let’s use the positive energy that comes from it to energise those of us already in the golf industry,  to motivate us to work better together to promote the game we love!”
Charlotte Ellis, former Ladies European Tour professional and personal trainer:
Any steps towards improving women’s participation in sport has got to be a huge positive. Whether this Charter will make a difference is hard to say, but the fact that things are being put in place to try and make a change for the better is fantastic.
It’s important in today’s world that men and women are respected equally. The R&A do amazing work to develop the game all over the world, it’s quite incredible to think that the Home of Golf is still writing history and women are the driving force

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