“I just Googled ‘gay golf’”
Across the world, LGBTQ+ golfers are connecting to make the sport inclusive and welcoming for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Progressive groups are attracting more LGBTQ+ people to golf by forming groups, hosting tournaments, social events and building communities.
In England, the world’s fourth largest golf market*, several societies support LGBTQ+ golfers, including Out2GolfUK, which started life in 1996 as the Irons Golf Society.
“Some of the new members we get, we ask them how they heard about us and most of them say they just Googled ‘gay golf’ by chance, and we appeared. That’s how I joined,” said Peter Heather, a past captain of Out2GolfUK (formerly Irons Golf society), in an interview with Bunkered.
“It surprises me how long it takes for many LGBT+ golfers to find us. That’s something we’d like to change.”
GIGS (Girls in Golf Society) is a social society that aims to build friendships for LGBTQ+ women playing golf in the UK. Established in 2006 as a CIC (community interest company), GIGS organises meetings, tournaments, overseas holidays and group coaching through its #findafemalepro campaign.
In Europe, the German Rainbow Golfers have an active community of LGBTQ+ golfers across eight states, from Hanover to Rombach and Aarau on the Swiss-German border.
Its flagship event, the German Rainbow Open – Europe’s largest LGBTI golf tournament – was played for the 18thtime this year and is a focal point for an international network that includes PanGolf in Copenhagen, Denmark, Golf Friendly in Paris, France and the Sydney Rainbow Golfers in Australia.
There are four LGBTQ+ golf groups active in the United States including Stonewall Golfers, a community of 130 active members in Palm Springs, California.
Gay golfers in Vancouver, Canada, arrange tee times and meet-ups through a Facebook group with more than 100 members.
While community organising at grassroots level is helping make golf more inclusive, there are glimmers of change in professional golf too.
The PGA of America celebrated its gay members during Pride Month, as part of its insistence that golf’s long-term health depends on attracting new and more diverse audiences.
Golf Channel analyst Eamon Lynch is openly gay and a prominent voice for the growing minority of LGBTQ+ golfers.
LPGA and Solheim Cup player Mel Reid came out in 2018 and is a Pro Ambassador for Athlete Ally, a campaign group aiming to end homophobia and transphobia in sport. Reid says it is rare that anyone has an issue with sexuality or openly expresses any issues on the LPGA Tour.
“The only problem we run into is that being gay is still illegal or frowned upon in certain countries we play in. There are also a lot of male-dominated sponsors that are looking for certain types of players, so that’s why I have felt I can’t be quite as open as I would like to be when it comes to my personal life,” Reid told Athlete Ally.