Two new women's golf communities are aiming to help female players across the UK feel more welcome when coming into the game. And, for Hannah Holden, that can only be a positive
Grow the game. It’s a term we’re all familiar with but how much is actually being done to achieve this – particularly when it comes to women’s golf?
In all my years as a golfer I’ve seen many attempts to increase female participation in the game but generally they are missing the crucial aspect that drives participation – the social side.
Most golfers – particularly men – wouldn’t think twice about grabbing their golf clubs and heading to the range, or to the practice facilities, or to play a few holes, or even just to the clubhouse for a drink. But for women up and down the country they don’t always find it that easy. The golf club can be a very intimidating place – particularly if you don’t have fellow women to play with – and it isn’t always easy to meet them when you first take up the game.
Starting out in a new sport can, without help, require an incredible amount of effort and willpower to get going. And, as an individual pastime, golf has that extra barrier. It’s easy to see why so many people, especially women, give up within the first year.
To quote one of my favourite authors, James Clear: “One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behaviour is the normal behaviour.”
So it’s really encouraging to see that communities for women golfers continue to grow.
Two in particular – The Ladies Golf Lounge and UK Women’s Golf Community – are working to connect female golfers across the country and give them spaces to ask questions, learn from each other, and find others with whom to meet up, practice, and perhaps have a game.
The Ladies Golf Lounge, a Facebook community set up by former golf club manager Yvonne Brooke in May 2020 as a place for female players to feel comfortable, already has more than 7,000 members.
“We talk about golf, golf, and more golf!” she told Women & Golf. “There are always a lot of questions being asked whether it be on rules, WHS, recommendations on clubs, clothing, holidays, courses – no question is too stupid.
“Because it’s female-only, you just feel comfortable and feel supported by everyone in the group.”
The UK WGC, meanwhile, is a brand new venture offering social meet-ups at driving ranges and golf courses across the country connecting women with likeminded golfers in their area.
The idea has grown from a pilot scheme at Basset Down set up by social media influencer “The Jazzy Golfer” and Swindon-based golfer Carly Cox.
“Due to word of mouth and promotion in the community group, we ended up with 20 women and girls,” Carly explained.
Jazzy, real name Jasmine, added: “It was clear to see there was an appetite. I’ve never ever seen so many women and girls at a driving range before – it was so powerful to see and be a part of.”
As a golfer since I’ve been able to grip a club, I have seen first-hand the need for these sorts of communities having spent far too much time as the only women at the range or in my fourball.
Female participation is the part of the game with the most potential for huge growth, and providing an encouraging and supportive space where they can get involved is crucial.
I love the idea of turning up to a driving range packed with women and juniors who share the same passion for the game.
Golf needs to show the world it can be welcoming, inclusive and, most of all, fun, and these communities are the perfect place to start. I just wish I had something like this when I was growing up.