The R&A is continuing its commitment to increase participation in golf among women and girls by providing funding to support the appointment of new development managers in Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
In Scotland, that role is being taken up by Carol Harvey, formerly a Regional Development Manager with Netball Scotland, with her experience in working with the fastest growing and most popular team sport for women hopefully proving pivotal in attracting more women and girls into golf across Scotland.
Working with its affiliates around the world to enhance golf’s appeal, the investment forms part of The R&A’s drive to encourage more women, girls and families to play golf more regularly across the globe and to go on to become members of golf clubs.
An initial three-year funding package of £75,000 per nation has been agreed between The R&A, Golf Australia, England Golf, the Golfing Union of Ireland / the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf for the recruitment and appointment of experienced sports development staff.
The appointees will all work in partnership with golf’s various stakeholders to deliver innovative solutions and inspiring campaigns to boost participation at a time when more women are seeking an active lifestyle for both themselves and their families.
In Scotland, the funding is being matched by the Scottish Government and VisitScotland as part of The 2019 Solheim Cup project, creating a Women and Young People Development Manager post within Scottish Golf to drive forward and promote opportunities to increase female and junior participation in golf in Scotland ahead of and beyond The Solheim Cup and PING Junior Solheim Cup being staged at Gleneagles in 2019.
Harvey spent almost four years at Netball and delivered a number of successes, including an increase in membership in her own West North region by 120% during her employment.
“We had huge success in our recreational programmes and, since then, community impact programmes like Walking Netball and InstaNet have taken off,” said Harvey. “As opposed to traditional thinking, we looked at new ways of bringing people into and back into the sport.
“I’m now trying to take these ideas into golf. It’s all about transferable skills, regardless of what sport you are talking to women and girls about. It’s about getting them excited about it, making it accessible for them, making it relevant and current for them. That is especially true around women and families, who want to spend time together at the weekends and enjoy a sport together.”
Harvey, who started in her role with Scottish Golf last month, is well aware of the low membership statistics for women and girls in golf in this country (approximately 12%) and is determined to lead change.
She added: “It doesn’t need to be like that. We can try new ideas, speak to the right clubs and speak with people who have a passion to make a difference. It’s about what we do together that can make a difference.
“The Solheim Cup is a hugely exciting opportunity, to use as a hook almost for other people to become involved and get more women and girls inspired to take up the game. It’s a huge and fabulous event coming to this country in 2019 and we need to be using it as much as we can to get people involved, from playing the game to volunteering to spectating. There are wider opportunities for Scotland as a whole from the event.”
A recent research report commissioned by The R&A demonstrates that a significant growth opportunity exists for golf if it can attract more women, girls and families into playing the sport more often.
Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Golf Development at The R&A, added, “Women and girls continue to be an under-represented group throughout golf across the world and more work needs to be done to attract more of them into the sport at a time when we need to boost participation levels.
“We believe that there is a real opportunity, working with our affiliates, to develop inclusive and inspiring participation initiatives which show that golf is a fun and enjoyable leisure activity that can provide many social and health benefits for women and families.”