A concerted effort is required across the golf industry to make the game more accessible and affordable, especially for women and juniors.
That was the view of speakers and panellists at the latest Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF)-organised Club Management Mini Summit.
‘Growing Female Participation in Golf’ was the theme of the gathering at TPC Kuala Lumpur that attracted more than 40 attendees, including general managers and senior officials from golfing establishments around Malaysia.
Staged in partnership with the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA), the Golf Club Managers Association of Malaysia (GCMAM) and TPC Kuala Lumpur, the Mini Summit coincided with the opening day of the star-studded Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.
Sponsored by Club Car, Toro and WIPA Tec, the Mini Summit followed on from the third Golf Course Superintendents Association of Malaysia (GCSAM) and AGIF Turfgrass Management Seminar and field day.
Eric Lynge, the AGIF’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Although the main focus was on how to encourage more females into the game, the discussions broadened to include general measures to grow the game.
“There was agreement that all of us involved in the game need to think out of the box in how we package the game and how we make it more attractive by introducing new short formats … and less intimidating for potential new players.”
Teeing-off proceedings at the Mini Summit was Shoumo Mitra, Head Marketing, APAC Syngenta Asia-Pacific. The title of his presentation was ‘The Global Economic Value of Increased Female Participation in Golf’.
He was followed by Steven Thielke, TPC Kuala Lumpur’s Chief Executive Officer. Thielke discussed ‘Grow the Game Club Strategy’, focusing on the ways in which TPC Kuala Lumpur has adapted its marketing strategy and embraced female golfers.
Completing the morning session, Master Academy Instructor Koe Lai Yin focused on ‘Building Women’s Golf in Malaysia’ and then joined a panel discussion, including MST Golf Director Paul Gibbons, Mitra and Thielke and moderated by Spencer Robinson, the AGIF’s Chief Communications Officer.
A former Malaysian national team player, Koe has acted as Head Coach for the Sime Darby LPGA Development Programme and is among Asia’s best-known female golf instructors.
In the afternoon, delegates sampled the hospitality at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, which included many of the world’s leading female golfers, including defending champion Feng Shanshan of China, world number one Ryu So-yeon, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and American veteran Cristie Kerr, who snared a 35-foot birdie putt on the final green to emerge victorious.
Lynge said: “Given the commitment of Sime Darby and TPC Kuala Lumpur to the women’s game, it was entirely appropriate that the spotlight of this Mini Summit should shine on female participation in golf. For the game to flourish in the decades ahead, it’s clearly crucial that more is done to encourage females to play golf.”
Thielke said: “It proved to be another memorable week for golf in Malaysia with a dramatic climax to the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the many exciting activities that were arranged around the tournament.
“That we were able to stage a Mini Summit that touched on so many of the important issues and challenges facing golf certainly added another dimension to what was an unmissable week both on and off the course.”
The TPC Kuala Lumpur event was the fifth in a series of Mini Summits staged by the AGIF this year with previous events having been held in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
Asian Golf Industry Federation www.agif.asia