WHERE are all the women golfers and administrators? That question is being addressed by clubs, controlling bodies and the golf industry at every level – in every country.
Recently, a group of 30 women involved in golf club governance participated in a day-long forum hosted by Magenta Shores Golf and Country Club on the NSW Central Coast. The forum stemmed from an idea by Jodie Skellern, the Chair of Magenta Shores Golf and Country Club. Encouraged by Magenta’s Board, Jodie sought Inside Golf’s help in organising the event. Not really knowing what to expect, organisers were impressed with the enthusiastic response to invitations. Among those participating were Chair and Club Presidents, General Managers, Board members and association managers as well as Lady Captains, District Presidents and Golf NSW. Representing some 24 public and private clubs, from Sydney through to Newcastle, it was evident that a range of structures existed within the industry –from relatively young clubs that have always had equal rights for women and men, clubs that are currently transitioning or discussing that possibility, and at least one club intent upon “remaining in the dark ages” where women have no vote and are not ‘allowed’ into the Clubhouse on Saturdays.
The forum’s agenda focused on two important issues: How to attract more women into golf club governance, and how to get more women playing golf.
Facilitators encouraged an open and frank discussion, and many participants found they shared similar challenges and views.
It was acknowledged that women in the golf industry face similar challenges as women in corporate Australia—the most prominent being the under-representation of women in leadership roles. Studies across a range of countries and businesses show that organisations where women and men collaborate to solve problems and make decisions out-perform those who do not.
Noting that women are often reluctant to become involved in governance, the forum discussed how clubs might create practical pathways to encourage women’s greater participation. Further, they acknowledged the need for culture change—so women and men approach diversity and inclusiveness as an opportunity to enhance their clubs’ performance, and improve the golfing experience for all members.
Women represent about 21 per cent of playing club members in Australia. It is accepted that if the industry was to attract many more women to the game, club memberships would again be brimming with increased revenues, allowing clubs to become creative and work on maintaining members by addressing the members’ clear expectations.
Figures suggest that women’s membership figures over the past 12 years have remained largely the same whereas men’s numbers have dropped off significantly.
The forum noted the excellent social media campaign by Britain’s getintogolf.org – which is attracting women and girls to golf by emphasising the social and health benefits of our sport, and presenting golf as a fun family activity. Participants asked Golf NSW to consider running a similar campaign.
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