#InspireInclusion – Why This Year’s Theme For International Women’s Day Resonates With Golf Like Never Before

To coincide with International Women's Day, we take a look at how golf is driving inclusivity

Golfers celebrating on green
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

International Women’s Day (8 March) celebrates all those dedicated to advancing women’s equality. With a theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’ this year, this resonates particularly strongly with golf, as many women and girls still face challenges finding a sense of belonging in what has traditionally been a male-dominated game.

In golf, particularly in recent years, many organisations, golf clubs and individuals have worked diligently to achieve greater equality and improve female inclusivity. This effort extends beyond just women, as there is also advocacy for participation from diverse demographic and ethnic groups, for both men and women to truly make it a sport for all.

However, despite these efforts, it's fair to say that we're still far from reaching the point across the entire golf industry where female inclusivity in golf is no longer an issue in some form or another, but it is also important to acknowledge our progress and give credit where it's due.

On The Road To Inclusion

Golf’s governing body, The R&A, is leading the charge in promoting inclusivity and has launched numerous initiatives to support the cause, with their latest project being GolfIt! in Glasgow. This is an appealing and affordable golf facility that is inclusive of everyone, and since opening in August 2023 has welcomed 60,000 players.

It was back in 2018 that The R&A launched its Women in Golf Charter to tackle gender imbalance in the sport with the charter stating, "Signatories call on everyone involved in golf to play their part in developing a culture that values women's involvement in every aspect of the sport, from participating to pursuing a career."

More than 1,300 organisations worldwide have signed up for the charter, with a notable element being The R&A’s Women in Golf Leadership programme. Designed for women who are looking to fast-track their growth and career in the industry, this initiative has seen 140 women from 34 countries complete the programme over the last 5 years. Impressively, 83% of participants have experienced career advancement, with nearly 40% earning promotions within the same organisation.

Group Lessons provide support and often amazing friendships strike up.

(Image credit: Katie Dawkins)

For golf businesses that value diversity, it’s clear that there is still more work to be done. For instance, Elaine Wrigley, director and board member at UK golf retailer American Golf believes there’s room for improvement and she is currently in the planning phase of a broader Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) programme.

“I came from New Look which was made up of 95% women. American Golf comprises 95% men. I built the ED&I team at New Look. My intention is to do the same here and ensure females and people from all walks of life don’t miss out on the joy of working in this industry and enjoying a sport that has so many benefits,” says Wrigley.

Women golfers on putting green

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Demonstrating its commitment to providing a more inclusive sport, national governing body England Golf has just announced a newly formed #TogetherInGolf Network group that will enable the organisation to listen to voices from underrepresented groups to positively affect everyone's experiences of golf in the future.

In the US, led by PGA of America, PGA Tour, LPGA and USGA, Make Golf Your Thing is the collaborative movement reflecting the industry’s commitment to making the sport more diverse and inclusive. Now in its fourth year, to date the movement has invested in over 155 organisations that are dedicated to increasing participation among people of colour, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans, and those with disabilities. Approximately 51% of adults and children reached through these programmes are female.

Achieving greater gender parity in golf, or any movement for change, demands a collective effort from the ground up. This includes golf clubs, which have often been the toughest nuts to crack, unwilling to adapt their traditional club culture to adopt a more inclusive environment. 

That said, over the last 10 years, dozens of clubs across the UK including Woolley Park in West Yorkshire, Sheringham in Norfolk, Hartford in Cheshire, Weymouth in Dorset, The Caversham in Berkshire and Scotscraig in Fife have gone down the route of introducing gender-neutral tees so that men and women can play from a tee that suits their ability rather than gender. 

We’ve come such a long way since the days when women had limited access to golf clubhouses and restricted tee times, so if everyone can continue to ‘Inspire Inclusion’ the golf world will be a better place!


Alison Root

Alison Root has over 25 years experience working in media and events, predominantly dedicated to golf, in particular the women’s game. Until 2020, for over a decade Alison edited Women & Golf magazine and website, and is now the full-time Women's Editor for Golf Monthly. Alison is a respected and leading voice in the women's game, overseeing content that communicates to active golfers from grassroots through to the professional scene, and developing collaborative relationships to widen Golf Monthly's female audience across all platforms to elevate women's golf to a new level. She is a 16-handicap golfer (should be better) and despite having had the fantastic opportunity to play some of the best golf courses around the world, Kingsbarns in Scotland is her favourite.