As a female golfer, I have always felt a little out of place. I was always the sole girl on the course with the boys. I took lessons with them, worked at a golf course with them, I even spent most of my time playing the game of golf with them. I begged my girlfriends to golf with me, or at least drive the golf cart and keep me company. For some reason, playing golf on a weekend wasn’t their idea of fun. I eventually gave in to their non-excitement for the game of golf, and put the love of the game behind me for a while, but not forever.
As I attended college, I began to learn more about the world, outside of my own small town upbringing. I soon realized, that golf wasn’t the only area that women felt out of place and struggled to gain an identity of their own. Just look at our society and culture, whose precedent behaviors have shown that women have had a long uphill battle in proving their worth and ability to the rest of the world.
For instance, women have only been giving the right to vote in the early 20th century, and that was after fighting tooth and nail to proof that they had a voice of their own. Men were anchors on the TV, long before a woman was allowed to sit beside one and report the news. To this day, women still suffer from a wage gap in their pay due to their identity as a working female.
Similarly, women’s golfers have not had the appreciation that they deserve.
In 1961, two female professional golfers, Mickey Wright and Barbara Romack, beat golf legends, Arnold Palmer and Dow Finsterwald, in a golf tournament on a par three Las Vegas course using the same golf tees.
In 1985, female professional golfer, Kathy Whitworth, broke the record for most tournament wins for both male and female players. She still holds that record to this day, with an impressive total of 88 tournament wins.
Most recently, in 2012, Augusta National Golf Course extended two membership invitations to two well deserving females for the first time in their clubhouse history. Augusta National Golf course has never given a solid reason as to why women were never allowed or given invitations to play at their prestigious facility.
The future of golf lies in the hands of women
The game of golf has evolved, but it still seems to be more gender focused towards a male audience. While social media has helped us become more familiar with female players, we still don’t treat them like we do their male counterparts. In my opinion, women’s golf is where the game needs to put its attention and focus on. The popularity of the game isn’t what it used to be; for instance, when Tiger Woods first took the stage, he drew a crowd that golf had never seen before. Now that Tiger’s reign has fizzled out, many believe that the excitement in the men’s game isn’t there like it was before.
Looking towards women’s golf is fresh and something that could definitely reinvigorate the game itself. These exciting young players are extremely talented, humble and impressive to watch play the game. Women players have a smoother swing, and can easily hit the ball 200 yards with a touch that only a female player could pull off.
The LPGA is also making efforts in growing the game among females by gaining their interest at an earlier age. They have been starting up female-centered programs at many golf courses across the United States, catering specifically to young women. While the LPGA continues to put strong efforts into these initiatives, they are also giving out scholarships for women players across the country for both their scholarly and athletic accomplishments. All-in-all, women’s golf is growing, slowly, but surely.
Why is progress slow?
Garnering the attention of young female players starts at the grassroots level. It takes time, patience and the ambition to keep it alive for its future players. For instance, when the LPGA first started its, “Girl Golf” program in 2010, it only had about 5,000 enrolled students. Over time, the programs advanced and the LPGA became more inclusive to ‘groups’ of girls, as opposed to just focusing on individual players. Through this efforts, they saw the program grow to 60,000 female students by the end of 2016. While it wasn’t a big ‘boom’ right away, their hard earned efforts paid off, and now females are starting to become more prevalent in golf.
This isn’t just true in the golf world for women as well. As history has shown us, the adjustment to the advancement and evolution of women’s roles takes time and patience. Only now are we starting to recognize women in higher ranks, and comfortably filling the shoes of positions that were once worn by men. If we are just now beginning to appreciate women in the workforce, surely to recognize women in golf will also take some time (and getting used to) as well.
As political and high-end offices were once the place of men, now many women hold the same roles. It has taken decades, for women to make progress and the strides women have made over the last few years have been great, even if they have been slow. I do believe great things will happen for women golfers as well. They have come so far, and have great talent to show for it.