Golf & Social Media: Diversity | Reactions
Following the release of the latest Syngenta report, Golf & Social Media: Diversity, we spoke to several leading voices for diversity in golf for their reaction.
Here’s what they had to say…
Dr Tony Bennett, Head of Disability and Inclusion for the International Golf Federation (IGF) and President of EDGA
"All underrepresented groups struggle to have a voice/presence, and as such the later comment “Outsiders look in and see few minorities playing” is a major issue.
"To challenge the status quo requires a concerted effort from the whole of the industry, specifically from the golf media. Although much of what I write is about G4D (Golf for the Disabled), equally the issues facing any underrepresented group are similar.
"A study by Morris et al. (2018) examining the online information-seeking behaviour of Individuals with Disabilities (IwD) reported that the internet serves as a crucial resource for finding information related to disability. Today that information seeking extends to social media, and as such golf must create opportunities for IwD to "imagine" themselves playing the sport before they even sample golf.
"In my experience, IwD-created posts seem to focus on where they are competing, and how they are playing. Nothing too much different from a post by any golfer – a nice hole, a good shot, playing with friends and such like.
"Being accessible is about a S.E.A change, but thankfully the tide has already turned and is swelling as more entities are getting involved in the G4D space. The S stands for services and relates to the opportunities for IwD to have full, active and quality participation in the programmes, events and services that golf facilities generally offer.
"The E stands for the creation of an accessible environment that is barrier-free for people of all needs, be those needs, physical, sensory, or cognitive.
"The letter A is the most important of all and stands for attitude. Change only happens when the leadership, management and workforce recognise that every person regardless of the four populations you have identified of ethnicity, sexuality, religion and disability, and which can be joined by several others, are valued and welcomed to the sport."
Amir Malik, Founder of the Muslim Golf Association
"It is a very good overview and it’s only ever a positive to highlight these issues.
"To this day, people are surprised when I tell them that golf is my full-time job. They’re like “are you crazy, how does that even work?!” It gives me a chance to explain it, and I’m on a mission to convert everyone to just try golf and break down the stereotypes. But unfortunately I do think these stereotypes will be around for generations.
"There’s tons that needs to be done on golf’s image. When you look at non-professional golfers online who are building up a following – the likes of Rick Shiels and other YouTube golfers – they are all white. How many people of colour are considered YouTube golfers? Not many.
"This is how the MGA started. I didn’t see anything so instead of waiting for someone else, I just did it.
"In today’s socal media world, it can be a great place but it can also be a very lonely, sad and even hostile place. It’s a free for all. But what social media has shown is that we now have an alternative to mainstream media. People no longer have to look for role models on the traditional channels such as TV."
Aimi Bullock, Director of Women’s Golf, EDGA
"I haven’t come across anything (negative) on social media. I’m part of a couple of forums and communities for lesbian golfers and I don’t see anything there about negative comments.
"A lot of golf clubs have been very happy to fly the England Golf rainbow flag on the 18th green on society days. Overall I only ever see stuff that’s really positive.
"I think the more awareness and publicity that comes from minority groups like the Muslim Golf Association playing golf, the more people will be able to see that golf is for everyone and not just for white men.
"I think golf is very good at looking after golfers. Once you’re in the golf community and part of a club, having lessons or even going to Topgolf or simulator stuff, the golf world and industry really looks after you. It's just enabling people to take that first step and get involved.
"So if you see people with the same disability as you playing, you might think ‘that could be for me too’, and it opens up the doors.
"Golf clubs need to look more closely at the community that surrounds them. Not their membership but their local community. I think a golf club should be a hub of the community like other sports clubs are, and their membership should be a reflection of its local community in that respect."