The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter, which aims to increase the participation of women and girls in golf, is being taken to new levels in Northern Ireland.
The charter, launched in May 2018 as part of the organisation’s global drive to develop a more inclusive culture within golf, as well as encourage more opportunities for women and girls to work in the golf industry, has been supported and adopted by organisations around the world. They include the Ladies’ European Tour, the Irish Ladies’ Golf Association and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland, which acts on behalf of the Golfing Union of Ireland, the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the PGA as the development organisation for golf throughout Ireland.
This summer will also see the staging of the second ISPS Handa World Invitational for men and women. Formerly the Northern Ireland Open, which had been staged annually at Galgorm Castle Golf Club since 2013, the format was changed for 2019 with men and women competing alongside each other at Galgorm Castle and Massereene Golf Club for equal prize money last August, the men’s competition forming part of the European Tour’s Challenge Tour. Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow beat Solheim Cup player Charlie Hull to win the women’s event.
Presented by Modest!, the management company founded by former One Direction singer Niall Horan, the ISPS Handa World Invitational is set to return even bigger for 2020.
More golf clubs across the province are offering dedicated tuition for women and girls, while some are also easing membership requirements to try and get more members of their ladies’ sections. This has led to the number of women actively participating in the game increasing from 0.9% in 2015 to 1.2% in 2017, while overall golf participation rose from 2.3% to 2.5%.
Figures from the Confederation of Golf in Ireland revealed that 4,600 people had joined as introductory members of golf clubs via the CGI’s Get into Golf programmes since 2014 – 3,000 of them women and girls. Under the scheme, golf clubs offer lessons with PGA professionals and volunteer activities to help integrate participants into the golf club. In 2019, golf clubs running Get into Golf reported an average conversion rate from the programme into membership of 66%.
For more information on golf in Northern Ireland, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com