Letter from the Editor: The Golf Course Can be a Lonely Place

Women with Drive
How Millennials are Using Social Media to Grow the Game
April 9, 2018
Golf is for Everyone
April 12, 2018

Letter from the Editor: The Golf Course Can be a Lonely Place

A candid take on golf's opportunity to welcome more women, minorities and millennials to the game
Array

Written By:

Ashleigh McLaughlin

Ashleigh is the Manager of Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy for the LPGA Women's Network. She's a former collegiate golfer with a degree in Marketing and Communications from Florida State University. When she's not crafting content, you can find her doing the Cupid Shuffle at an LPGA*USGA Girls Golf clinic.

Can we be honest for a moment?

Am I alone in feeling that golf has been pale, stale, and male for too long? I hope not.

Growing up and playing golf as a little black girl in suburbia, I got pretty used to being one of the very few people who looked like me. I can tell you that if I had been subject to playing weekend golf exclusively with stereotypical golfers, I would have given up golf to begrudgingly learn the piano like my grandmother always dreamed I would.

I’m a proud member of the Tiger Woods generation, a group of young golfers who (at least for me) was no longer embarrassed to carry their clubs on the school bus because it was now “cool” to be the black girl who knew how to play golf. There was a year in junior high school that I actually dressed in Tiger’s signature, red and black Sunday ensemble, coupled with a Nike logoed hat, and trick-or-treated as Tiger Woods for Halloween.

My pursuit of golf was thanks to more than just the inspiration of Tiger. I was a member of a local junior program for minority golfers, and I participated at an LPGA*USGA Girls Golf site which gave me a tribe of my own, kids my age, who looked like me and loved Tiger Woods and the Spice Girls as much as I did.

As important as Tiger, Se Ri Pak, and Lorena Ochoa are as influencers for non-stereotypical golfers like myself, they’re just a piece of the puzzle. Optics are important at every level, particularly for those who could be potentially turned on to the game. Seeing people who look like you, whether playing professionally on television or simply enjoying the game at your local course, sends important, psychological cues that communicate belonging and assurance that this sport is for you too.

As a millennial, an African American, and a woman (a “triple-threat” if you will 🙂 ), I can say with confidence that golf’s most urgent need is to change the widely held perception of our sport’s exclusivity, which has far more to do with perceptions and barriers to entry than physically preventing someone from participating.

My hope for golf is that the demographics I see walking through the aisles of my grocery store will soon be mirrored on the fairways of my local golf course to include more women, families, millennials, and people of color.

Golf is making progress thanks to groups initiating change at the grass-roots level – golf claps to LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, Black Girls Golf, Women with Drive, TopGolf and Adaptive Golf to name a few. They’re each creating new visual cues and offering supportive environments that are driving more women, millennials and people of color to experience the game.

Their work hasn’t gone unnoticed. There is a now a higher sense of awareness that if golf doesn’t work hard – and work hard quickly – to become more inclusive, the sport will fail to keep up with cultural shifts.

If that pressure is felt by the likes of Augusta National, who recently announced their decision to host a woman’s event on their course just six years after finally admitting female members, I think we can all be more hopeful for the future.

This month we’ll be examining the power of inclusiveness in golf, exploring stories of women and groups who are working to make change, and opening up conversations centered around how we can each contribute towards making golf a more welcoming space for people of all backgrounds.

Tell us what changes you’d like to see to help welcome more groups of people to join in. Let’s get the discussion started in the comments section below.

Cheers,

 

Ashleigh's Signature

16
Leave a Reply

12 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
14 Comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Mel

Get QUALIFIED Black players, yes, qualified, on the golf course. If you were aware of the LPGA Contestants you would or should know there is considerable diversity, Moore so than ANY women sports. It is not the LPGA’s responsibility to go to schools and communities to solicit black women to play golf. That is the responsibility of parents and communities to provide opportunities for ALL ladies to learn how to play golf and prepare themselves to become QUALIFIED to play on the LPGA tour. Do your job to promote women’s golf at all levels and let drive and ambition be… Read more »

Lin Barker

Amen! Glad you wrote the article. I’m white, a self-emplyed Nurse Case Manager & work with people hurt @ work. It is often difficult to get referrals to the best docs due a layer of employers, claims people & doctors
People are people & I’m glad you overcame obstacles. We need to be women without labels including race, age or gender. Your article is a great step forward.

Joyce

As a 72 year old white woman who plays golf with 3 men in a company league, I agree whole heartedly with your thesis. Recently, meeting with our financial advisor my husband and I mentioned WE enjoyed golf in our retirement. Our advisor reached into his drawer and hand My Husband a sleeve of balls. I just glared at him. I should have opened my mouth!!! In the league we play, there are about 20 members–4 of them women. Granted, it is an engineering firm, but the fact that there should be more women engineers is another challenge that needs… Read more »

Carol Grosvenor

As a Financial Advisor, I give all my female clients who are interested in golf a nice logo golf towel. Can I send you one? It will last longer than a sleeve of balls….

Mary Ellen Purdy

Change your Financial advisor…and tell him why!

Gia Murray

I think that introducing kids to golf in school or through First Tee type organizations is the best way to ensure both diversity and growing the game. Yes, it was male, stale, and pasty and that’s what kept me from even considering it. Also the whole country club thing was a foreign concept growing up. It’s crucial to have quality, affordable, public courses including par 3’s around so people can check golf out.

kiernan schindler

I am in total agreement with your thoughts… As a female golfer who grew up wearing a baseball cap on Saturday mornings so that I could play with my dad during the restricted hours, I am happy to say I have seen such a movement toward equality on the links! Yes, we have so far to go and we should be in a hurry to get there as every day we lose more little girls who represent the future of our game because they don’t feel the love from the very first time they show up to play. A very… Read more »

I was caught with no reply when the Boys & Girls Club Director said “What would I suggest to motivate the girls of color to participate in golf?” Followed by golf is just not cool or of origin for most of our girls here. As an LPGA pro and passionate for the game my idea is who needs motivation to try? Well it seems that the girls of color do need more drive than a desire to branch out try new, play and have fun while opening possible doors for a strong future through what golf gives in return. Character… Read more »

MicheleS

I really started playing golf as a young attorney with “the boys”. Loved playing from the front tees designated by flower boxes! What a hoot! Groups like the Northwest Ladies’ Golf Association encourage women to get out and enjoy golf and network in a non competitive, fun, friendly way. Don’t suggest the opportunities aren’t out there. They are. You just have to look for them and support them on your neighborhood. I’m 62, a woman who originally tried golf as part of my college (Duke) phys ed requirements in the 1970s, as a woman who “kept it up” as a… Read more »

Judi Davis

I am so proud to have called Barbara Douglas my friend. She would be applauding all you are doing because that’s exactly what she she did.
http://www.usga.org/articles/2012/01/cancer-claims-past-womens-committee-chairman-barbara-douglas-21474845651.html

Jo

My dad who awas a child of immigrants, taught me how to hold a golf club when I was ten years old. I am a white female, now 75 years old and think gratefully of him every time I’m on the course when I play in my lege and it’s other colleagues.
I have pushed my league to have a couple of ‘bring a girl to golf days each season, and have further urged them to consciously seek out minorities who play or want to play. Kids are the key to growing our game.

Tracey

Ashleigh, Thank you so much for your article! I am an African American female golfer and have been playing for over 30 years! I decided I wanted to play golf when all the white kids in my H.S. Chemistry Honors class were leaving to go play golf at the local Country Club in my small rural Texas town. Though I wasn’t allowed to play at the Country Club, the coaches drove me and the girls team to the nearby town so that we could practice as a team. My clubs were an old set out of some elderly man’s closet… Read more »

Mary Ellen Purdy

BRAVA

What can we do? Start our own leagues or tournaments. They do not need to be big with fancy prizes. Just something fun and not very expensive. I am now 73. A friend and I started a Mini Solheim tournament about 10 years ago. We run it ourselves and only charge $10 which all goes to prizes. It has grown so much that we have to turn some ladies away because we just can’t handle any more. It has gotten so popular that we are finally getting some of the younger girls involved. My point – don’t wait for someone… Read more »

Mary Ellen Purdy

What a brilliant idea!!!

Dyrrle G. Osborne

There is a great need to introducing GOLF to the African American and Minority in Charlotte, NC, I live in the most diverse area in the city. A good action plan is to sell golf to the women in minority communities because they are usually head of household. I grew up as a caddy and was introduced to golf very early in life, the golf course was right in our back yard. Lee Trevino and I addressed getting more minorities into golf. He stated ” bring the caddies back to all public and private golf courses”. Golf is a family… Read more »