Mixed Golf Fills Some Women With Dread, But Could It Be The Future?

Do you enjoy playing mixed competitions and wish there were more, or is a mixed foursome more of a mixed 'gruesome'? Carly Frost considers the popularity of mixed golf

Mixed Golf Feature
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

I’m a self-confessed golf addict. Singles, foursomes, greensomes, match-play, stroke-play, betterball, mixed competitions - you name it, I love it. There’s not a format of golf I don’t enjoy. I never turn down a game. But for many women, the thought of playing golf with men fills them with absolute dread.  

They find it unsociable and annoying to be teeing off from different tees. They don’t enjoy being out-driven most of the time. The distance difference makes them uncomfortable, dare I say it, nervous. The feeling is often reciprocated by men. They cannot bear the thought of being outdriven by a woman, or on the other hand, they don’t like having to ‘wait’ for two or more shots from a short-hitting lady to be struck before they get to their tee shot. They find it frustrating. They lose their rhythm and flow.  

The Dreaded ‘Mixed’ Foursome - Or Should I Say ‘Gruesome’? 

For many couples, the thought of having to play in a mixed foursome competition is utterly unbearable! My parents are the perfect example. Married for over thirty years but nearly divorced a dozen times after a bad round of golf together. Despite being the worse player of the partnership, dad loves to coach my mum around the course, telling her what she’s doing wrong. It drives my mum mad! She gets frustrated when her advice to dad is to ‘play for position’ falls on deaf ears. Dad bends the ball like a banana into the woods (frequently) and pays no attention to the words ‘just swing smoothly’ uttered out of mum’s mouth. He comes from the generation of egotistical grip-it-and-rip-it guys who get the big stick out whatever the risk. As a consequence, they stopped playing in our club mixed foursomes knock-out together many years ago, or as my dad bluntly puts it, “Your mum found another man!” The funny thing is they’ve never actually done any better with their respective other golfing partners (yet!) 

My good friend Anna and her husband Peter are the exact polar opposite. As a relatively new golfer whose handicap is slowly tumbling down, Anna relishes any and every opportunity to play golf with her talented husband. In her own words, she is totally “hooked”. It’s a joint passion for them, Peter playing all his life since a junior and still competing to a good level off a single figure handicap, he couldn’t be more delighted that his wife has found the same shared passion for the sport. This summer they went on a month-long golfing holiday all over Scotland, playing in mixed competitions from Aberdeen to Ayrshire. They loved it. So much so they’ve booked again for next year. They recently won our club mixed knock-out tournament. Peter takes advantage of Anna’s higher handicap, making them an unbeatable combination. 

Mixed Golf Feature

(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

Times Are Changing

Due to the historical nature of the game and golf club culture, it’s not surprising that mixed golf has generally taken a back seat.  It only seems like yesterday that I was told that I had to sit outside the clubhouse at Royal Troon to have a drink because women weren’t welcome inside. I was playing in a media day, which showcased the course, ahead of The Open Championship - the year was 2004 and Todd Hamilton played that famous little bump and run with a hybrid like a putter from off the green on his way to winning the Claret Jug. It was my first Open Championship as a magazine golf writer, women were in the minority in my industry. I’m not sure The R&A or the club had even thought about somebody in a skort attending their day. My Editor who sent me certainly hadn’t thought about where I would go to change my shoes! I was shocked. It was awkward. To be honest, totally degrading. The sexist male attitude that ‘this is our club; it has been for decades and we want it to stay that way’ was totally outdated. 

Thankfully most of those stuffy old seniors have now disappeared making way for a new generation of more liberal men who have realised how antiquated and wrong their club policies were. I felt like a suffragette in golf. It took The R&A another ten years to admit women to their sacred quarters but what a difference their power and influence had. They even removed the infamous ‘male-only’ Muirfield from the Open Championship rota because they wouldn’t embrace the change. It took until 2017, and at the second time of asking, for Muirfield to eventually concede defeat. The club managed to shake off its shady past by hosting the Women’s Open this year. The R&A’s Women & Golf Charter, launched in 2018, is also committed to encouraging more family-friendly mixed golf. 

The Future 

Twenty years on and I’m glad those days of discrimination in golf are behind me. I can’t help but wonder how different the golfing landscape will look twenty years from now when I’m a senior player in my sixties? Will the future be one where men and women play on tour together as equals? Maybe the controversial LIV Golf Tour will have a say in that. They certainly seem to be ripping up the rule book. If it happens, will that filter down into the amateur game and to club level, making men’s and women’s competition days a thing of the past?  

How about the club just has a competition on three days of the week, you choose what you enter, you play from whatever tee ground you prefer, to suit your ability level and to give maximum challenge and enjoyment at your discretion? That sure sounds good to me. 

Mixed Golf

(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

Back in my early twenties I had a full-time golf magazine writing job, working Monday to Friday, typical office hours. I didn’t have the luxury of taking Tuesday off work to play in our ladies’ competition day. I was known as an ‘alternative day’ player who would mark my competition card on the Sunday before the event was played the following Tuesday. This would have its pros and cons.  

Sometimes I was the only Sunday player marking a card in a field full of fourballs out for a lovely Sunday stroll, often stuck behind slow players for four or more hours. I’d frequently have totally different course conditions to the Tuesday players - different pins, different speed greens, different weather. When it played to my advantage and I won the competition with a fantastic score it was frowned upon. But there wasn’t another option for me. 

I would have jumped at the chance to play in the Saturday competition with the men. Playing in the same field, in the same conditions, on the same day as the winner. I have no doubt many working ladies feel the same way now. The trouble is our club has over a thousand members and tee times on competition days are in short supply. It’s simply not possible to get everyone who wants to play in the competition onto the course in daylight hours, especially in the winter months, so there is no chance that adding an extra few women to the field would be warmly welcomed. Or would it be? I wonder… 


Carly Frost
Golf Monthly Contributor

Carly Frost is one of the golf industry’s best-known female writers, having worked for golf magazines for over 20 years. As a consistent three-handicapper who plays competitive club golf at Parkstone and the Isle of Purbeck courses in Dorset every week, Carly is well-versed in what lady golfers love. Her passion for golf and skill at writing combine to give her an unbeatable insight into the ladies game.  

Carly’s role at Golf Monthly is to help deliver thorough and accurate ladies equipment reviews, buying advice and comparisons to help you find exactly what you are looking for. So whether it’s the latest driver, set of irons, golf ball, pair of shoes or even an outfit, Carly will help you decide what to buy.
Over the years Carly has been fortunate to play some of the greatest courses in the world. Her view ‘from the ladies tee’ is invaluable. She ranks Sea Island, Georgia, USA, where she met her husband, world-renowned golf coach Dan Frost, among her favourite golf resorts. Their aptly-named eight-year-old son Hogan is already hitting the ball as far as Mum and will undoubtedly be a name to watch out for in the future.
Carly is a keen competitor and her list of golfing achievements are vast. She is a former winner of the South West of England Ladies Intermediate Championship, a three-time winner of the European Media Masters and she once beat an entire start-sheet of men to the title of Times Corporate World Golf Champion. She has played for both the Dorset and Surrey County Ladies first teams and is known for her excellent track record at matchplay.

Carly holds the ladies course record (68) at her home club Parkstone and her lowest competition round (seven-under-par 65) was carded in the pro-am of the Irish Ladies Open at Killeen Castle, playing alongside Solheim Cup superstar Anna Nordqvist. Although her current handicap index has crept up to 3.7 since Covid she has her sights firmly set on achieving that elusive scratch handicap and hopefully playing for her country when she’s 50.

Carly’s current What's In The Bag? 

Driver: Callaway Epic Max, 10.5° 

Fairway wood: TaylorMade SIM2, 15° 

Hybrids: Titleist TS2, 19°, 21°, 24° 

Irons: Mizuno JPX900, 5-PW 

Wedges: Cleveland RTX, 52°, 56° and 58° 

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X5

Ball: 2021 Callaway Ladies SuperSoft