As The R&A – the organisation that governs the sport worldwide outside of the United States and Mexico – seeks to make the sport more inclusive, QF’s Education City Golf Club is also drawing more women and girls into golf. Jackie Davidson, Assistant Director – Golf Development at The R&A, speaks about why she is encouraged to see the sport growing in Qatar.
Whether it be a father taking a young daughter to the driving range, a family of four going out for a quick nine holes after dinner, or a mother embarking on an exciting career within the golf industry, growing golf for women and girls on a global scale is a key focus for The R&A.
With a latent demand of $35 billion that could be spent on golf by women, the importance of driving sustained change is clear. Working within The R&A’s development team in St Andrews – at the Home of Golf in Scotland – we place significant focus on this area of the sport to help drive a more inclusive culture worldwide.
Over 700 organisations worldwide have committed to developing that more inclusive culture within golf – including the Qatar Golf Association and the Education City Golf Club
The Women in Golf Charter underpins this work. Launched in May 2018 by The R&A, the Charter aims to increase women and girls’ participation and membership in golf, encourage more families to enjoy golf as a leisure activity and encourage more opportunities for women to work and volunteer in the golf industry. To date, over 700 organisations worldwide have committed to developing that more inclusive culture within golf – including the Qatar Golf Association and the Education City Golf Club.
Given the passion for golf in the country, it is obviously important for countries like Qatar to engage in female golf participation. The European Tour’s visit to the Education City Golf Club for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters this month again highlights the opportunities for golf in Qatar.
It was great to see the tournament’s partners coming together to stage the ‘Play to Par’ competition at the end of last year, a series tailored to take children from the practice area to the golf course. The R&A also supported a SwingZone at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in 2020, helping to highlight the national federation’s programmes.
The R&A provides funding to national federations around the world to develop and grow the sport for women and girls, ensuring engagement and opportunity and encouraging diversity throughout communities in these countries. From the Pink Birdies program in Costa Rica to the Flexiclub initiative in New Zealand, there are successful models for others to replicate in order to encourage more women and girls into playing golf.
It requires a real long-term and sustainable shift in the culture throughout our sport to ensure that it is more accessible, appealing, and inclusive
With only 16 per cent of women playing golf in the UK, for example, it requires a real long-term and sustainable shift in the culture throughout our sport to ensure that it is more accessible, appealing and inclusive.
Recently launched in connection with the Charter, The R&A’s new #FOREeveryone campaign aims to build on the commitment already achieved from global organisations.
It is the start of a long-term programme of support for the industry, notably in Great Britain and Ireland, and has begun with the distribution of a toolkit resource to clubs designed to provide guidance on operational and marketing improvement to help attract more women and girls.
Whether on or off the course, we look forward to seeing golf among women and girls develop in Qatar
In the summer of 2019, The R&A also launched the Women in Golf Leadership Development Programme (WIGLDP), part of our ongoing commitment to the Charter.
It has been great to see 20 women so far graduate through the WIGLDP, all learning, developing and growing as individuals in their chosen field. Indeed, over 50 per cent of the women involved from our group one are now in more senior roles, while six in the second group have either been promoted or been retained within their organisations during a period of change.
Whether on or off the course, we look forward to seeing golf among women and girls develop in Qatar. Michael Braidwood, the General Manager at the Education City Golf Club, and his team continue to work hard on women in golf initiatives and are making headway. To date, 29 per cent of adult-registered golfers in Qatar are female, and we hope that progress stays on an upward curve.