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England Golf to drive for female-friendly courses after equality pledge

February 22 2024 - News Release News Editorial

England Golf will encourage more courses across the nation to offer female-friendly facilities and policies after becoming the sport’s first body in the UK to sign the International Working Group’s (IWG) Brighton plus Helsinki Declaration on Women and Sport.

England Golf to drive for female-friendly courses after equality pledge

This week, England Golf joined more than 600 global organisations in signing the accord, which marks a commitment to equity for women and girls in sport and physical activity.

The declaration focuses on 10 principles that enable women and girls to freely and safely participate, compete and build careers in sport.

‘Facilities’ is one of these pillars and, while England Golf only has control over the National Golf Centre in Lincolnshire, the organisation is hoping to influence more than 1,800 courses across the country to adopt positive changes.

“We can advocate for changes to make them more female-friendly,” England Golf’s Women and Girls in Golf Manager Lauren Spray told Global Sustainable Sport.

“In terms of that space, disseminating that information to make sure that more courses are female-friendly and promoting our existing initiatives. We do a lot of work with a club in focus or a facility in focus where we share our best practice for other clubs to learn from. That will be something that we can build upon more.

“We’re also doing some women’s membership research as well so we will take some of the learnings from other countries, and other signatories will definitely help us in how we take that forward.”

“For us, signing the declaration is about sending a message that, as a sport, we are committed to ensuring that golf is equitable and safe for women and girls." England Golf’s Lead Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Michelle McGill

IWG states that the planning, design and management of facilities should meet the needs of women and girls, with special attention given to the need for childcare provision, safe transport and safety during participation and performance.

Chief Executive Jeremy Tomlinson described England Golf’s pledge as “a truly momentous occasion”.

It follows the governing body’s launch of the Respect in Golf movement last year which aims to embrace equality, diversity and inclusion within the sport.

According to the 2023 Golf for All study, which included research conducted by Ipsos and commissioned by the Professional Golfers’ Association, women account for 25% of the 4.9 million golfers who play on full or short courses in the UK and Ireland.

Of the 11.4 million who play off-course only – including at adventure golf venues or driving ranges, for example – as many as 47% are women.

The research also found that just a quarter of on-course golfers were from the C2DE social grades and just 4% represented ethnic minorities.

England Golf’s aim is to equalise these figures.

“For us, signing the declaration is about sending a message that, as a sport, we are committed to ensuring that golf is equitable and safe for women and girls who not only currently play golf but also those who would like to play,” England Golf’s Lead Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Michelle McGill told Global Sustainable Sport.

“By signing the declaration, we have access to this international network of good practice so we are able to share what we are doing and learn from other organisations.

Image: Matt Bedard/CC BY 2.0

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