Golf’s equality drive: R&A launches Women in Golf Charter

Chief executive of golf’s governing body says ‘doing nothing is not an ­option’

Charley Hull R&A Women in Golf Charter
Charley Hull is Britain’s top-ranked women’s golfer at No.25 in the world
(Image credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

The chief executive of The R&A, golf’s governing body, admits that the sport has to change its culture and the organisation must become more “modern and relevant to today’s society”.

It has long been viewed as the sport of middle-aged men, but yesterday the R&A took a major step in giving golf a much-needed makeover with the launch of its new Women in Golf Charter.

The Daily Telegraph’s James Corrigan calls the R&A’s charter a “remarkable about-face for anyone with a short memory”.

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Four years ago, the BBC reported that The Royal and Ancient Golf Club voted to allow women members for the first time in its 260-year history. Then last March Muirfield golf club also changed its policy on women members, says The Guardian, after it lost the right to be included on the rotation to host The Open Championship because of the policy.

Attracting females, and families, to golf is a major target for the R&A and CEO Martin Slumbers says that if the sport does not look forwards then it must face the consequences.

Speaking to the Telegraph Slumbers said: “Doing nothing is not an ­option. The majority of clubs are struggling because their product is aimed at a target market which is shrinking. At best, we are flat and that has to change. When you look at raw ­statistics, it is women who bring children to play, not men.

“We want to make the R&A modern and relevant to today’s society. If you spend your whole life looking backwards, you never achieve anything.”

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The Guardian’s Martha Kelner adds that the charter’s aim is to “redress the gender imbalance in the sport”. Slumbers says that doesn’t just mean more female players on the course but also more women working in the golf industry.

“I see that the future development of our sport depends upon achieving a change in the number of women working in all levels of golf and particularly the senior positions,” he said. “Clubs have a fundamental role to play in changing this culture. If we can change, there is a huge opportunity for golf, but we have to change and we have to change fast.

“Creating a product that families together want to experience from clubs will be the catalyst to take golf forward for the next 50 years. If we don’t change, then we will suffer the consequences. We have to encourage everyone involved in golf to play their part in this change.”

Signatories of the new charter include the European Tour, the Ladies’ European Tour, the European Golf Association, the Professional Golfers’ Association, the European Disability Golf Association, Golf Australia, Golf Canada, the Golfing Union of Ireland, England Golf, the Irish Ladies Golf Union, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf.

About the Women in Golf Charter

According to The R&A the aims of the charter are:

  • £80m investment in women’s golf over the next ten years
  • Strengthen the focus on gender balance
  • 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 associations for participation and membership and annual reporting of progress
  • Develop an inclusive environment for women and girls within golf

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