Following on from the success of last week’s Women and Girls’ Golf Week, we caught up with our Women and Young People Development Manager, Carol Harvey, on the steps being taken to increase participation.
Explain to us the key responsibilities of the role of your role? My role is ultimately to increase the participation of women and juniors across Scotland. We look to support innovative ways of engaging women and children in the sport and increase the number of players who transition from coaching programmes to club membership. A big part of my role is also to increase the number of female coaches and pathways into this element of golf.
I work a lot with focus groups in finding the best ways to do things like this, as well as overseeing the rollout of our #ThisGirlsGolfs initiative, which aims to get as many girls playing the sport in Scotland as possible. More recently I’ve been working on the Solheim Cup development workstream.
Would you agree a huge part of your role is moving away from traditional thinking? Absolutely. Bringing young people into the sport, and encouraging them to play at any and all levels is vital in keeping golf alive. To do this we need to approach the sport with a fresh attitude: encourage short-form play, introduce easier ways for beginners to get involved, make clubs more approachable and work together with them to help encourage new membership.
We also need to look at how we’re using social media and our content channels to appeals to women and young people and make sure we’re presenting ourselves as an attractive sporting option.
How important are community impact programmes in encouraging women and young people to pick up the sport? Community impact programmes are key to ensuring that we are maximising the reach of this fabulous sport. We need to be able to let women and young people try the sport in relaxed environments and make sure the pathway to club membership is clear and easy. For example, our #ThisGirlGolfs events have been fundamental in giving girls who have an interest in golf an opportunity to make new friends, get active and ensure they aren’t feeling isolated at their clubs.
The Solheim Cup is at Gleneagles year: what wider opportunities will young people, women and Scotland as a whole have from this event? There are lots of opportunities for everyone to be involved with from volunteering opportunities to come-and-try sessions. There will also be coaching opportunities to encourage more women into coaching and the chance to watch the very pinnacle of female professional golf.
What has been your journey to this role? I worked for four years with Netball Scotland as a Regional Development Manager. Netball is the fastest-growing female participation sport and membership in the West of Scotland increased by 120% during in my time there. I was offered the chance to come to Scottish Golf and I saw huge potential for growth – but just as importantly enjoyment – for girls and young people, so here I am.
What do you find the main challenges are in getting young people involved in golf, particularly girls? There is a perception that golf is for men and that it is too expensive; that it takes too long to play – as with many perceptions the reality is often very different. You can be on a course for half an hour, or four hours, it’s completely up to you. There are ‘Get Into Golf’ sessions that run throughout Scotland at local clubs so there are easy opportunities for anyone thinking about picking up a club to give it a try. Many clubs have introductory membership options too and every club in Scotland is open and welcoming to players of all ages and gender.
How can your experience help those young people looking to make that first step into the sport? We will be looking at a range of new and innovative ways to get young people into the sport and will be using young people to help shape all future developments to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
Have you found any major differences between working in golf and netball in your role? The issues around women and participation are largely the same and it is all about breaking down the barriers to ensure that everyone can participate at the level that is right for them. Our job as a governing body is to provide the opportunities by working with our members, and to raise awareness so that anyone who wants to play golf can, and anybody who is curious but hasn’t picked up a club has access to do so in a fun and inclusive manner.
How important was Women and Girls Golf Week in encouraging participation in the women’s game? Last week was awesome. I’ve really enjoyed reading all the #WhyIGolf stories and being able to share these messages far and wide, and reaching people who don’t currently play. We’ll carry on this momentum in everything we do to encourage women and girls into golf and I hope those who currently play continue to share their stories and inspire others to do this same.
What would you say to any young person who is curious about golf but hasn’t yet picked up a club? Just do It. You won’t regret it. Golf is a life-long sport and can be played alongside any other activity you enjoy. It’s a great way to meet new friends too, and can open up fantastic travel opportunities. We are also blessed in Scotland to be at the Home of Golf and to have so many beautiful courses on our doorstep.
Follow our Women and Young People Development Manager, Carol Harvey, on Twitter @SGWomensGolf