Wales Golf has appointed a new development officer to increase participation in golf among women and girls, thanks to the commitment of the R&A.
Golf’s governing body is providing funding to support the appointment of new development managers in Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Wales Golf has appointed Simon Lu, a 33-year-old from 2010 Ryder Cup host city Newport, who joins from Race Equality First where he was the Sport Wales BME Sport Cymru officer responsible for sports projects in Cardiff.
“I am not a golfer, though I am taking up the game as part of the New2Golf scheme,” said Lu. “I have been to the driving range a few times and I had my first lesson.
“Golf always appealed to me, I always wanted to play, so I was delighted when this opportunity came up.
“I think it is good to have somebody looking at the sport with fresh eyes, I feel I have a huge amount to give the role with my background in sports development and also the non-golfing background as well.
“The barriers in most sports can be pretty similar, so I can look at it from that point of view as someone who is taking up the game for the first time in the same way as the people we want to attract.”
The new role is a national one across Wales. Lu is based in the Wales Golf offices at Celtic Manor and he will be leading the strategy and targets as part of the Wales golf development team covering all of Wales.
“There is a lot of good work to build on, much of the stuff which has been done already by Wales Golf and many clubs is fantastic,” he added. “The women and girls’ involvement in golf has grown in Wales so I am picking up the baton.
“I will be looking at where it has worked well and where it hasn’t, then develop plans and disseminate them through Wales Golf and clubs.
“We have an ambitious five-year target of increasing female membership of clubs by two per cent each year.
“There are clubs who are well on their way to achieving that and there is a latent demand from female golfers. There is a huge economic value in targeting that group, a lot of clubs realise that and are pushing forward plans to improve their female club offering.
“There is a natural progression there with people recognising that is the way forward, which helps me in my job. Even if clubs are not doing that already, they are interested in doing so.Clubs are doing great work, so it is a question of packaging that up and pushing it out to the rest.”
Working with its affiliates around the world to enhance golf’s appeal, the investment forms part of the governing body’s drive to encourage more women, girls and families to play golf more regularly across the globe and to go on to become members of golf clubs.
An initial three-year funding package of £75,000 per nation, has been agreed between The R&A, Golf Australia, England Golf, the Golfing Union of Ireland / the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf for the recruitment and appointment of experienced sports development staff.
The appointees will all work in partnership with golf’s various stakeholders to deliver innovative solutions and inspiring campaigns to boost participation, at a time in which more women are seeking an active lifestyle for both themselves and their families.
Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Golf Development at The R&A, said, “We are aware that women and girls continue to be an under-represented group throughout golf across the world and that more work needs to be done to attract a higher number of females into the sport at a time when there are concerns around declining participation levels.
“We believe that a great opportunity exists, working with our affiliates, to develop inclusive and inspiring participation initiatives which position golf as a fun and enjoyable leisure activity that can provide many social and health benefits for women and families.”
A recent research report commissioned by The R&A demonstrates that a significant growth opportunity exists for golf if it can attract more women, girls and families into playing the sport more often.
Wales Golf http://www.walesgolf.org/