The R&A has introduced its “Women in Golf Charter” in a concerted bid to tackle gender imbalance in the game, the surface of which has only been scratched in recent years by some historic clubs admitting female members for the first time.
Now the St Andrews-based body is set to spend £80 million over the next ten years in trying to totally transform golf clubs by getting more women and young people participating and also pursuing careers in the game.
Launched in London, the charter has the full support of the Ladies European Tour, the European Golf Association and the Professional Golfers’ Association, as well as the amateur governing bodies of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland.
“Signatories call on everyone involved in golf to play their part in developing a culture that values women’s involvement in every aspect of the sport, from participating to pursuing a career,” states the charter.
“Our aim is increase the number of women and girls playing and working in golf. To achieve this goal and to enable women to flourish throughout golf, we recognise the need for a fundamental shift in culture.
“There is a clear ethical need for change and the potential economic benefits of growing the sport through more women and girls playing are substantial.”
In Scotland, women currently make up just 12 per cent of the total club membership and Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, believes involving more women, including in key decision-making roles, is vital to the growth of the sport.
“I see that the future development of our sport depends upon achieving a stepped change in the number of women working in all levels of golf and particularly the senior positions,” said Slumbers, speaking at the charter’s launch event at The Shard in London. “Clubs have a fundamental role to play in changing this culture.”
New Scottish Golf chief executive Andrew McKinlay has welcomed the charter, saying: “Scottish Golf is committed to making golf accessible and welcoming to all and our number one strategic priority is to grow membership in particular for women and young people.
“Scottish Golf is a proud signatory of the new charter and, shortly, we will be announcing our own commitments and pledges in relation to women’s golf.”