'˜Getting modern working women into golf is a struggle'

A lack of television exposure for women's golf, which was illustrated by Georgia Hall's snub in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award ceremony last weekend, is one of the reasons why it is a 'struggle to attract the modern working woman' into the game.

The claim was made by Clare-Marie Macaulay, who has been hugely successful in getting juniors into the sport in her role as a PGA professional at Paisley and also through running a kids’ tour in the west of Scotland, but she says it remains a fight to get women playing golf.

Females make up only 13 per cent of the total golf club membership in Scotland, though Scottish Golf is hoping that figure can be significantly increased through the governing body now having Carol Harvey operating in a role specifically aimed at the development of women and youngsters.

“Getting women into golf is still a tough ask and, for me, there is not enough exposure on Sky/BBC etc,” said Macaulay, speaking in the wake of 22-year-old Hall, who won the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham this year, failing to be nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.

“There are good initiatives out there to involve ladies and girls in golf, but there are still obstacles that make it a struggle to attract the modern working woman. Having recently started coaching the Renfrewshire County girls, it is encouraging to see the talent coming through. It is important to ensure we keep encouraging the girls to make sure we keep them at the game.

“On the back of my successful junior programme at Paisley, we are seeing more junior girls joining the club. However, there is still a huge gap in the female category until you reach retirement age. In essence, we are still not seeing enough young females getting into golf.”

Macaulay, who is married to Callum, a member of Scotland’s Eisenhower Trophy-winning team in 2008, is doing a splendid job on the junior front at Paisley, where her brother, Andy, has been the head professional for nearly nine years.

“Getting more juniors at Paisley hasn’t happened overnight, it has taken a few years,” she said. “I went into the local primary schools delivering four-week programmes, which gave the children a taste and some then continued and joined our coaching programme.

“We started our AC Junior Golf Academy three years ago, which has been a great success with over 75 children in it. The children get all-year-round coaching and we have found that the children like fun tournaments so we have now added in a few flag and ‘Drive, Chip & Putt’ events.

“I think as long as you make it fun then the kids enjoy it and they learn much better. These fun tournaments are great family days as we make sure the parents are involved and interacting, too. This winter we have been using our new indoor performance studio, which the kids are loving. Using Trackman technology, they learn so much technically and also really enjoying the playing of the courses available, too.”

Along with one of her colleagues, Gregg Sommerville, Macaulay also runs a Junior Tour that provides similar opportunities for youngsters in the west of Scotland to those Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher are offering elsewhere in the country through their successful junior 

“Our tour caters for junior golfers aged 5-16, from those just starting playing golf to those who are single figure handicappers,” said Macaulay, a former Renfrewshire County champion. “We started the tour four years ago, identifying that there was no means for junior golfers to go from coaching to out on the course without jumping straight into medal/stroke play, which, from experience, can be too big a step for most.

“Our first year saw us running four events with 40 competitors playing in our flag events. The idea was so well received that we ran a tour again the following year over six different golf courses with 60 competitors. Fast forward a couple of years to this year, we ran 23 events at 23 different venues with over 140 competitors playing on our three tours – Glasgow North, Glasgow South and Ayrshire.

“In 2019, we are aiming to bring on 200 juniors and are introducing plenty of new events. A particularly exciting addition will be a charity event which will help support a Scottish children’s charity.”