Last month I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Women in Golf Awards, hosted at The Bramshaw and Bell Inn in the New Forest. The awards are the brainchild of Medi8 Golf CEO Nicole Wheatley and golf industry consultant Ben Blackburn, who decided that they wanted to do something special to celebrate women’s golf and specifically recognise many of the women who work in the industry.
It was so exciting to be in a room with women from all walks of the industry. Just being there would have been enough, but I actually won an award, although I nearly missed the announcement due to a badly timed toilet break!
I was nominated for the Unsung Hero award by the public and then chosen by the judging panel as the winner, which was a real honour. I have never been the sort of person who strives for the limelight and instead tend to be quite happy being ‘unsung’, quietly making a difference to the people who cross my path at Winchester Golf Academy that I set up and run with my husband Gary. However, what I did in 2018 at a TaylorMade product launch saw my head well and truly lifted above the parapet.
I can still remember sitting in the auditorium at Mercedes Benz World in Weybridge, Surrey like it was yesterday. I can recall being really tired, like walking through fog, as I was just coming to the end of my maternity leave with my not-so-great sleeper second baby, Primrose. I attended the product launch instead of my husband Gary, along with two of our PGA Assistants at the time, one of whom was a female called Georgie.
Including myself and Georgie, there were only three women at the presentation, the rest of the audience was made up of ninety or so male professionals and buyers. It was during the interval that I commented to Georgie that women were yet to be featured or any female specific product talked about in a meaningful way. “I may say something,” I said, which got a resounding “no don’t!” from Georgie. But I had a good fifteen years on Georgie in terms of working in the golf industry as a woman. That’s fifteen more years in a predominantly male industry, where the norm is for female golfers not seen as worth taking seriously and in general an afterthought for manufacturers.
So, with a reduced filter due to sleep deprivation and a general feeling of annoyance to put it politely, I did stand up and ask, “Do you make products for women because you’ve not featured them in any way, not one female professional or amateur has featured in any of your marketing.” I will always remember the silence in the room after I asked my question because these presentations are not designed to challenge a company. They are nice sociable events where you go and drink free coffee, enjoy the buffet and get excited about shiny new products.
On the day, no one knew what to make of what had happened, no one spoke to me afterwards when viewing the products. By the time I got home, I was even more annoyed, to think that one of the biggest golf brands in the world doesn’t believe female golfers are worth the time to cater for or feature, and I tweeted words to that effect. I don’t have many followers, so the tweet gained very little traction, but the right people saw it.
What happened next is the remarkable part of my story…TaylorMade listened. Within two months, I’d met not only the MD of Europe David Silvers, but TaylorMade CEO David Ables. During meetings with them, they spoke of their plans to sponsor female tour players and to establish a Women’s Advisory Board, comprised of women from across Europe working in the golf industry who contribute to raising the profile of the women’s game. Through workshops, TaylorMade's Kirsty Robertson and Emma Taylor, we have relentlessly discussed, researched and planned how TaylorMade can better cater to the female golfer and how to deliver that message through their marketing and promotions. Even throughout the pandemic, regular meetings were held with updates on the latest ideas and developments discussed.
Our hard work culminated in the launch of the Kalea Premier range earlier this year, which had its very own launch event in Rome! I will always cherish the feeling of seeing the marketing campaign, the tone of which was strong and powerful, and most importantly featured women using and enjoying the product.
It’s been a wonderful four years working with TaylorMade to the point that I’m now so proud to be a part of the team, I almost don’t like to think of how we came to be, but we may not have been where we are today without that moment of, ‘Do I or don’t I say something’. It may seem safer to keep your head down and to stay silent, as it makes for an easy life, except it doesn’t.
I am now a proud mum of three daughters, and should they choose to follow in my footsteps, I want their lives to be easier than mine when entering the golf industry. I don’t want them to have their first pro shop job at 15 and see the workshop room walls adorned with topless posters of women, I don’t want them to only be allowed to play the course on certain days and times, I don’t want them to work for men who send them home for not smiling at them when they bring them a cup of tea, I don’t want them to be subjected to derogatory pro shop banter, I want them to work in an industry where they are wanted, valued, and welcomed. To achieve that it starts with us right here and now continuing to speak up, asking to be seen and to be proudly talking about what will hopefully be the first of many more years of the Women in Golf Awards.
Emma has worked in the golf industry for more than 20 years. After a successful amateur career, she decided to pursue her true golfing passion of coaching and became a qualified PGA Professional in 2009. In 2015, alongside her husband Gary, who is also a PGA Professional, they set up and now run Winchester Golf Academy, a bespoke 24 bay practice facility offering not only all the latest technology but a highly regarded bistro. Emma is happy coaching all golfing abilities but particularly enjoys getting people into the game and developing programs to help women and juniors start and improve. Her 2022 Get into Golf program saw more than 60 women take up the game.
Emma is a member of TaylorMade’s Women’s Advisory Board, which works to shape the product offering and marketing strategy with the goal of making it the number one brand in golf for women. When not changing lives one swing tweak at a time Emma can be found enjoying life raising her three daughters and when time allows in the gym.
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