When the United States team secured the Solheim Cup this year, the excitement around their win was palpable. Over 7.3 million viewers watched the Golf Channel/NBC coverage during the three days of competition, and the event set record attendance reaching over 124,000, highlighting that women’s golf can and does engage a captive audience.
While the Solheim Cup is just one example of women’s golf making a splash this past season, the media coverage did not reflect the excitement. Instead, ample coverage throughout the year was dedicated to controversies such as the LPGA dress code, the unfortunate ruling that cost Lexi Thompson a major during the ANA Inspiration last year, and the US Women’s Open being held at Trump National Golf Club instead of excellent golf that elevated the game.
Ron Sirak, who has covered women’s golf over the last two decades, expressed frustration over this type of coverage. “Few things annoy me more than when national sports writers parachute into an LPGA event when a tangential issue is brewing to cover it but then don’t bother to cover the actual tournament. If you believe in equal rights for women, you must also believe in equal coverage.”
This type of coverage also means fans miss out on connecting with who the players are on and off the course.
“LPGA players are the most accessible athletes in all of professional sports. For a writer, the better you know a player the better you can write about them,” Sirak added.
Despite the wonderful and exceptional skills of LPGA players, the perception of women’s golf suffers. Women golfers have to fight back against stereotypes that their golf is less interesting and fun to watch, and the lack of media coverage of the women’s game only compounds these archaic beliefs.
After the U.S. secured the Solheim Cup, Hall of Famer and US Team Captain Juli Inkster said, with the coveted cup in hand, “We don’t get the credit we are due. If we play well, the courses are too short. If we don’t play well, we’re not good enough.” She later went on to say, “The majority of people don’t know how good [LPGA players] are and how well they hit it. And [that lack of awareness] has a lot to do with our coverage.”
Currently, girls under the age of 18 are the fastest growing segment of golf, with more than a 50 percent increase since 2010. With that in mind, this is a prime time for stories in women’s golf to flourish.
So, how do we bolster the image of women’s golf, and where is the best place to start? A simple place to start is how we promote players via social media, and this is something that all golf media companies can easily improve on. A quick scan of golf media’s Instagram and Twitter accounts highlights how women’s golf struggles to find a home there. And with the power of social media, promoting women’s golf on this free platform can help elevate the platform of women’s golf to greater heights.
Next, you can help get more coverage for women’s golf simply by tuning in when women’s golf is on air, attending tournaments if you can, subscribing to women’s golf magazines like the Women’s Golf Journal, and sharing stories like this one about women’s golf with the people in your life. For those who are social media savvy, tweet to golf media outlets and request more stories of women golfers, or write your own posts about the tournaments. The more women’s golf fans show a desire for women’s golf content, the more pressed golf media will be to provide it.
Women’s golf is growing, and the coverage of it needs to also expand. This means more stories to highlight the women’s talent, but to also feature who these women are as individuals.
And the added benefit of better coverage of women’s golf? Future generations of women’s golf will have more players to look up to; it will help change the stigma that golf is still a sport just for men, and it could even help viewers learn how to play golf better.
So join us in helping to get the word out there! Retweet your favorite players, share their posts, and share articles about women’s golf. With your continued support, you can be part of the change and help women continue to live out their dream by showing there is a need and demand for women’s golf coverage.