To round-out our focus this month on the topic of diversity and inclusiveness in golf—perfect timing following the recent incident at Grandview Golf Club—we asked executives from companies leading the charge in the space of inclusion, along with golfers and non-golfers alike, to share their views on the topic of diversity and inclusiveness, and where opportunities exist for golf to create positive change.
Their responses were varied, but each hit on a common thread: for the game to grow, creating an environment that welcomes a variety of people and approaches to enjoying the game is key.
Read on and share your thoughts in the comments below:
“To encourage diversity among golfers, specifically women—which is my customer base—I encourage golf course management, and yes, other golfers, to recognize that not all golfers play the game for score. By offering alternative ways to navigate the golf course and ‘breaking the rules of golf’, less skilled golfers can enjoy the game alongside those that are more experienced. By removing the expectation to ‘score’, I have found that the intimidation factor is reduced, allowing a more varied and diverse group of women participating in the game.”
Founder, Women on Course
“Not only do we need to have women with a seat at the table, but we also have to have women on the course with a club. There are so many critical business conversations that happen on the golf course that women should be included in. In order to be included, we need to have an effective game—it doesn’t have to be perfect, but we have to understand the etiquette and have the confidence to get out there.”
Karen S. Carter
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Dow
“I confess. I don’t play golf. But throughout my career, I’ve met many women who do, and I know a golf course can be very important in growing your network, learning from those around you, while challenging yourself to make that elusive hole-in-one. It’s important for the LPGA to motivate and equip girls and women around the world to attain their full potential—just as we are working to create a workplace that values all individuals and inspires our colleagues to reach theirs.”
SVP, Diversity & Inclusion and Global Talent Acquisition, XL Catlin
“We all know that golf should be the most inclusive sport out there; the fact that you can play golf if you're 2 or 102 is what makes this sport really special. But what we find at a golf club can be the complete opposite of the diverse spectrum of players it should have.
A welcoming environment to all patrons of the golf club is a good place to start. But all golf facilities must recognize the fact that a one-size-fits-all model just will not work. What a 50-year-old, long-term member wants will differ greatly from a Millennial newcomer to the sport.”
Marketing Manager, Medi8
“If we want to grow golf amongst any group, regardless of gender or color, we have to start with the kids. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are so many programs reaching juniors of all walks of life. If we want to perpetuate this game for the future it behooves us to make it available to children in a friendly manner.”
Mayor, Palm Beach Gardens Florida
“Inclusiveness is the special ingredient that could really bring golf to a new level of participation. In my many years working to introduce women, children, and minorities to the game, one common denominator is fear. Fear that you won’t do the right thing, ask the right questions, dress the right way, or just not be good enough to participate without humiliation. By educating these groups regarding some of the basic rules, providing more funding for free lessons, and eliminating some of the barriers like specific attire rules at courses, the feeling of being welcomed to the sport will resonate.”
Director, LPGA Foundation
“We have a daily responsibility to share the tremendous benefits of golf with everyone, especially those who have felt unwelcome in the game in the past. Part of this responsibility is relaxing the boundaries and being flexible about some of the traditions to make sure that golf stays relevant to new players in changed situations. For example, we can start with shorter events at courses and ranges that are more fun for beginners.”