If it’s sincere, then an invitation is specific
If it’s sincere, then an invitation is specific. That’s at the heart of today’s Women’s Golf Day, a global initiative that opens the door for women and girls who want to learn about the game and engage with other female golfers. It’s a set time for women to come, in number, to the golf course.
And it’s about the golf.
The fourth annual Women’s Golf Day takes place at numerous locations around the world, from golf courses to golf retail stores. Organizers are marketing the game to women through education, not the side aspects of fashion, celebrities and even competition. A sanctioned Women’s Golf Day event must include two hours of a golf-related activity (from playing to lessons to product demos) and two hours of socializing.
Somewhere along the line, a misconception developed that golf courses have to include a sideshow to get women involved. But Women’s Golf Day can be just as much about educating golf clubs and their long-standing male members about how to reach women as it is teaching women about the game. The golf-specific initiative reached 20,000 women in 2017. Golf is what they wanted.
“There’s this mindset that, for golf to be attractive to women, it has to be something different than it is, and the reality is, it doesn’t need to be,” said Jane Geddes, executive director of the LPGA Amateur Golf Association. “It just has to be welcoming.”
That’s where the specificity comes in. It’s one thing to issue a sweeping invitation to a woman (or women) to come play golf. It’s entirely another to make a tee time and invite a woman to join on that specific day at that specific time.
You might say that much of the past year has been about the reverse education of women in golf – not so much bringing new women to the game and teaching them about the fundamentals that go along with playing, but educating the larger golf community about what kinds of things women bring to golf.
The U.S. golf industry (namely the LPGA Women’s Network and We Are Golf’s women’s task force) launched a movement called #inviteHER in August 2018 designed to get more women onto the golf course using the simplest tool imaginable: a personal invitation. On its website, the LPGA Women’s Network published a hub full of tips for experienced golfers to mentor a new golfer’s journey into the game.
In an effort to attract younger women back into competitive golf, the Florida State Golf Association reduced by half the entry fee for the Florida Women’s Mid-Amateur.
On a large scale, the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur this spring was like the poster child for including women in areas of the game that used to be open only to men. Winner Jennifer Kupcho and runner-up Maria Fassi, both college seniors, threw out a collective four birdies plus an eagle on Augusta’s back nine, a show that made them heroines. Both turned professional last week ahead of the U.S. Women’s Open, but can you remember a time when two rookies – relatively unheralded for much of their amateur careers – made more headlines as ambassadors of the game than these two?
Kupcho and Fassi had a platform because Augusta gave them a tee time. In fact, Augusta gave 72 women tee times on April 5, the practice round before the final round of the event. In the next day’s final round, 30 women had televised tee times – on a network, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.
Olivia Mehaffey, an Arizona State junior from Northern Ireland, was breathless after she played Augusta for the first time – not from the hilly terrain but from the opportunity. Asked what she wanted viewers to understand about women’s golf by the end of the final-round broadcast, Mehaffey replied quickly, “How strong it is.” She had watched the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix earlier in the spring, and she urged Arizona State’s men’s golfers to come out with her, too.
"The standard of golf is amazing,” she told her male counterparts in Tempe. “They’re going to hit wedge shots better than you hit wedge shots, and they’re going to hole more putts than you hole.”
Women’s golf doesn’t have to be televised to be celebrated, which is why a grassroots movement such as Women’s Golf Day is so powerful. It pumps female golfers full of confidence and knowledge. With that, they don’t need an invitation. They just need a tee time.
Julie Williams covers amateur golf for AmateurGolf.com. She is a former college golfer and Golfweek writer who coaches a high school girls golf team in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BTSD_Jules