“Women are just not fast enough!”
“Physiological differences are inevitable!”
“Females are weak!”
“You swing like a girl.”
Those are the remarks that were often heard by women trying to make it in the world of golf in the past. Many years ago, the entrances to golf clubs often flaunted a “no dogs or women” allowed sign. And while this explicit symbol of discrimination has since been removed, a problem persists nonetheless.
We’re all aware of the issues of gender discrimination that plague today’s world, and If not, then we all should be. From the notorious gender pay gap at work, to unrealistic societal expectations in day-to-day life, women often have to fight unfair treatment. However, there Is no place where this is more obvious than in the world of athletes. In an industry where physical abilities should be celebrated, a woman is often at a disadvantage for the mere fact that she is a woman.
The Course IS Greener on The Other Side
All around the world, golf is still tainted with a stereotype of being an all-male sport. There is a common misconception that the word itself is an acronym of the very phrase “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden.” While this itself is not true, just the fact that there is space for people to make such an assumption is a problem in itself. While golf did first begin as a male-dominated sport, this has changed, with female golfers dominating the green and breaking new records. Despite having reached new milestones and accomplishing as much as their male counterparts, women in the golf industry are still forced to carry the burden that the golf stereotype has encumbered them with. Another pointer is the fact that people pay more attention to male pros than female pros. The Professional Golf Association is much more closely watched than the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association, and people are much more likely to credit Tiger Woods as being the world’s greatest golfer rather than paying attribute to the likes of LPGA champions Kathy Whitworth and Louise Suggs. Caddyboo recently sat down for a chat with LPGA player Gemma Dryburgh who helped shed some light on some of the issues female golfers may encounter.
Source: Gemma Dryburgh official website. https://gemmadryburgh.com
While this applies to golf professionals, such an assumption also extends to women who merely enjoy the sport. Despite how physically fit a woman may be, she is much more likely to be assumed to not be able to swing as well as her male counterpart or carry the club because it is “too heavy.” Some other clichés that have gained prominence along the years are the fact that “women only go on the course to socialize” or that “women slow the game down”. Such false misinterpretations of the role of females in the world of golf has raised the standard for women and have forced them to them step up their game to prove that there is enough space on the green for two.
Swing Like A Girl
Times are changing, and day-by-day, the stereotype is being redefined. In 1950, the LPGA was founded. In 2004, Michelle Kie became the youngest person to ever compete in a PGA Tour event (The Sony Open). Today, the vast majority of golf clubs and all major golf leagues have made it so that a woman has a place in the game. Platforms for female golfers are being regularly established, with the aim of having a community where females participating in the golf industry in one way or another can offer one another support, encouragement, and feel empowered. An example of such is Helsinki-based Anna Golf whose members often organize events and tournaments which revolve around the female golfer, and encourage her to do what she can’t.
Source: Anna golf website. https://annagolf.fi/helsingin-golfklubi-18-7-2019/
The number of females joining the golfing world, whether by taking it up as a hobby or by going professional, is increasing yearly. Through the growth of such communities and the establishment of more ladies’ golf associations, we are slowly allowing the athletic world to adjust to new changes and redefine their clichés. Who ever said “swinging like a girl” was a bad thing anyway?
What’s Next?We want to contribute to the growth of the female golfing community, and we would like you to join us. Don’t know where to start? Here are a few things you can do:
- EDUCATE those around you about this pressing issue. Many people assume we’ve come a long way with this issue (which we have!) but that doesn’t mean it no longer exists.
- ENCOURAGE the women around you to join the golfing world by providing them with a safe place to start. Introduce them to a community where they can feel welcome, empowered, and help them out by giving them your best golfing tips and advice.
- SUPPORT the local communities around you that allow women the tools to excel. Follow their news, attend an event or two, and donate!
- WATCH LGPA tournaments. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it can be done from the comfort of your own couch. Supporting female empowerment has never been so easy.
By doing what we can’t and raising awareness of this problem, we are levelling the playing field and making sure that equal opportunities are available to all. So while golf might have been a male-dominated sport once upon a time, it is time for the “no women allowed” sign to go in the trash. It’s not just a man’s world.