Sorenstam: Many clubs intimidating to women
Annika Sorenstam, the world’s most successful female golfer and newly-elected President of the International Golf Federation, believes golf clubs can still be intimidating and unwelcoming for women.
Speaking at the Virtual Women’s Leadership Forum hosted by the R&A and Mastercard, Sorenstam said the game needs be more forward thinking in its efforts to attract and engage more females.
“We want the sport to be fun and more welcoming for women and girls,” said the 10-time Major winner.
“From a club standpoint, I think the language – even the basic things like a pro shop – is a big deal if you are new to golf. The ladies’ locker-room, it’s almost as though it’s a last-minute thought. There’s just nothing to it. It’s small. It’s old. It’s very dated. It’s just not welcoming. It’s not fresh.
“I think there are few things we need to do to invest in these clubs and I’m not talking about fancy country clubs. Let’s make golf attractive in the sense of being welcoming. It’s not just about hitting seven irons and holing putts.”
Sorenstam’s comments tie in with this in-depth report by Syngenta on female participation, which found that an intimidating club atmosphere was one of the key reasons preventing women from taking up golf.
And this study which examined ways golf venues can engage women found that 59% of those surveyed said a more relaxed environment, without confusing etiquette and out-dated dress codes, would encourage them to try the game.
“Let’s start making it cool, preserve the history and tradition, but have modern thinking,” Sorenstam continued.
“There’s a lot of things we can work on to make golf clubs a place you want to go to. I think the dress code needs to change. If you want to get people involved, you can’t have all these rules. There are a lot of things we can do and a lot of it is the perception of golf. Let’s start making golf cool again.”
Sorenstam also believes the benefits of golf on physical and mental health should be promoted more widely – something Professor Jenny Roe also champions in this piece on the value of green spaces for wellbeing.
“We’ve seen 20 percent of rounds increase since the pandemic, which is interesting,” said Sorenstam. “I guess there is something good coming out of something bad. Equipment sales are up and memberships are up and it is considered a great Covid sport.
“I think it is important that we all take advantage of this surge in the game. We all know that golf has a lot of benefits being outside and I think it is something that has naturally occurred due to this pandemic.
“As an industry, I think we need to talk about the benefits of golf for women. Maybe from the health perspective. Maybe from the mental perspective. Maybe from a social perspective.”
Read more about how the coronavirus pandemic has provided an opportunity to rethink the golf industry HERE.