Brian McFadden: 'Golf Still Needs To Be More Inclusive For Women'

The former Westlife singer believes there is still a somewhat stuffy nature to the game despite a sudden boom in participation

Brian McFadden

Brian McFadden has a message for the hordes of young girls who helped him become a superstar as a member of the chart-topping Irish group Westlife: “Take up golf. You’ll love it”.

No-one could ever doubt McFadden’s own passion for the game. The five handicapper is practically a permanent fixture on the pro-am scene at DP World Tour events, and has bought a big stake in the fast-growing Druids golf wear company. McFadden’s two teenage daughters are also keen golfers, but he would love to see a lot more girls taking up the sport.

He said: “I absolutely love playing golf, and being around golfers. But if there’s one thing I wish for the sport, it is that it would become more inclusive. To most young people it is still too stuffy, and far too time-consuming. Those are the issues we need to address to safeguard the future of the game.

“I think the European Tour – or the DP World Tour as they are now – have been brilliant in pushing formats like the Super Sixes competition, joint events for men and women, and some absolutely fantastic social media content.

“But we need to do a lot more. It’s like cricket with the T20 and Big Bash competitions – we need to get kids hooked onto things like the Super Sixes, par-three competitions, nine-hole events, two or three club challenges, all that stuff.

“And we do need to relax the dress code, because that is what gives golf its stuffy image. I can quote you a personal experience from one of the clubs where I’m a member. I was playing a round in strong winds, and I turned my baseball cap around to play my shots, because it was in danger of blowing off, and then turned it back round the right way.

“But the next day a letter went out to every member saying there had been a complaint about someone wearing his cap back to front, and that practice was one the club wanted to discourage. My name wasn’t used, but everyone knew who they meant. But come on, is that something you need to complain about? Get a life!

“The whole dress code is something we need to address. What Tyrrell Hatton did by wearing the hoodies at Wentworth was spot on. Let youngsters dress the way they feel comfortable. But even though the R&A have said clubs should allow jeans, I'd draw the line there. That’s just a personal thing though – have you ever tried swinging a club wearing jeans?

“But let’s get them started early. I started playing when I was six or seven with my dad. You only get a few good days of summer in Dublin, but we’d play in all kinds of weather. Dad would come off work at 5pm, and we’d play on a nine-hole public golf course. I was bitten by the golf bug straight away.”

Brian McFadden

McFadden started playing golf when he was seven back home in Ireland

(Image credit: Getty Images)

McFadden, 41, is doing his bit towards providing clothes young golfers will embrace. He has bought a big stake in Edinburgh-based golfwear manufacturers Druids – who have enlisted his partner, Danielle, to design their female range.

McFadden explained: “The Druids thing was quite funny. It started with them contacting athletes and musicians and guys on the pro-am circuit, and sending them free gear, to see if they liked it. They’re Irish guys but based in Scotland, and I thought it would be nice to support them.

“Anyway, they invited us up to play Dumbarnie near St Andrews, and the guys were all in matching gear. Danielle was with me, also playing, but there was nothing for her, so she felt a bit left out.

“So later we sat down with Lewis Jones, who started the company, and talked about Dani designing a ladies range for Druids. She spent the next six months designing the ladies stuff, and it went from there.

“Dani wasn’t a designer, but she had clear ideas of what she wanted. She felt a lot of women’s golf gear was a bit samey, and a bit stuffy, and a lot of it was aimed at the older market.

“She wanted to do a range that would stretch across the whole market, and appeal to young, athletic kids as well as the older players.

“In our family we’ve got relatives in their late 60s who play golf, Dani obviously plays, and my daughters play. So we had three generations to use as sounding boards. And all three were saying yeah, I’d wear that.

“It’s getting pretty big, and I wear the Druids stuff all the time. I just wish I could do my bit by playing a bit better!”

Brian McFadden

Brian McFadden (right) with Boyzone singer Keith Duffy

(Image credit: Getty Images)
David Facey
Contributing Writer

David brings a wealth of experience to Golf Monthly as a freelance contributor having spent more than two decades covering the game as The Sun's golf correspondent. Prior to that, he worked as a sports reporter for the Daily Mail. David has covered the last 12 Ryder Cups and every Masters tournament since 1999. A popular and highly-respected name in the press tents around the world, David has built close relationships with many of the game's leading players and officials.