As we reflect on the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide last month, both glorious moments and future issues spring to mind.
Firstly, our collective hat goes off to all in South Australia – our hosts at The Grange Golf Club, the South Australian Government, all of our tremendously supportive and engaged sponsors, the army of volunteers and, of course, the public – for the overwhelming vote of confidence in the event.
Our national championship was played to record crowds and international interest with a leaderboard that was befitting a truly global event. Only a round for the ages from our worthy new champion Haru Nomura kept world No.1 Lydia Ko and five-time champ Karrie Webb – and others – at bay in a rollicking final day.
And that she got to play that round in front of such vast support and adulation was fitting. Not only to witness a world-class performance, but also that it highlighted the progress of women’s golf as such a quality product.
Moreover, the broad support steels us in the belief of just how important it is to continue to promote and expand the reach of golf for women and girls of all ages.
Throughout tournament week, so many females – young and not so young – were engaged by not only the national championship on course, but by clinics, functions and other activations around Adelaide. In particular, it was fantastic to see the response of many local women to Swing Fit sessions given exposure around The Grange and by media outlets, both within South Australia and nationally.
And herein lies the challenge – converting this excitement and attention into tangible involvement.
The stats don’t lie. Women currently comprise not quite 22 per cent of all club members – a number dwarfed by other countries, most notably New Zealand where the figure is around 30.
We must redouble our efforts to keep this momentum flowing and growing in the right direction. We need to take every opportunity to promote women’s involvement at all levels of the sport. And we should adapt our thinking to achieve this.
Those of us familiar with golf clubs might not find them daunting, but research tells us many women find them imposing and confronting.
Help us all along with this … if you see something that’s not welcoming at your club, take the time to change it, or put wheels in motion to do so.
That research tells us there are more than a million women who’d love to play golf, but don’t know how to begin. Please, reach out to them and help them take their first step. Who knows where it could lead?
It would be great to see a future Karrie Webb or Minjee Lee develop through the focus of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and other ALPG Tour events around Australia.
But it would be even better, if that’s possible, if this proved the catalyst to unlocking the potential of women’s golf in Australia at all levels, not just the elite.