Charting a way forward for Women In Golf

The GCMA are one of the early signatories of The R&A’s new Women in Golf Charter. But the association is already leading the way in promoting gender diversity in club management

The business case for getting more women in leadership has actually been broadcast for a long time,” said Marie Taylor.

The coordinator of the association’s recently-formed Women’s Golf Leadership Group is talking following the launch of The R&A’s Women in Golf Charter last month in London.

 “But the greatest barrier to actual change is the entrenched male culture, often it’s so entrenched that it’s outside many people’s conscious awareness.”

The Charter is a concerted bid from the game’s governing body – linking together with organisations and associations across golf – to try to increase the number of women and girls participating in the sport. Key to that is encouraging more to work in the industry and that means changing attitudes that have remained largely set for decades.

“The conversations in industry so far have largely been in circular discussions with not much action and women are reporting the same issues remain in their way,” Taylor added.

“It’s not just men – awareness of the specifics required to make change happen sits with women too.

“But the greatest barrier to actual change is the entrenched male culture, often it’s so entrenched that it’s outside many people’s conscious awareness.”

That’s quite a lot to try and change but, alongside The R&A, the GCMA has actually been ahead of the curve. The number of women members of the association has increased almost 100 per cent in five years.

Acknowledging that trend, the association established the Women’s Golf Leadership Group this year to help achieve a more inclusive culture within the sport.

“Our involvement (in the Women in Golf Charter) has been led by our own circumstances”, explained GCMA chief executive Bob Williams.

“I know there are more and more women coming into golf club management. There is a shift and things don’t happen overnight. But there are more women becoming involved in playing the game.

“Collectively as associations and organisations, we have to break down the barriers within the golf club.”

From this backdrop, it was little surprise the GCMA were one of the early signatories to the Charter, which aims to inspire an industry-wide commitment to “developing a more inclusive culture within golf and allow more women and girls to flourish and maximise their potential at all levels of the sport”.

So what will that actually mean in practice?  Becoming a signatory to the Charter requires an undertaking from national federations and organisations to support measures that increase participation for women, girls and families.

Those who have signed will be asked to take positive action to support the recruitment, retention and progression of women who work in golf.  It will also aim to develop an inclusive environment for women and girls within golf.

That’s very positive reckoned Amy Yeates, the GCMA’s current Manager of the Year, who already takes great pride in mentoring the next generation of managers – both female and male.

“It is fantastic, it is a real call to action to everyone in the industry no matter how small their involvement to play their part in making golf more inclusive,” she said of the Charter. 

“For The R&A to invest £80 million in the next 10 years is a serious statement that the sport has to change.

“For me, the most notable part of the Charter is how comprehensive and far reaching its impact intends to be.  “The participation goal is a valid and obvious point but it also focuses on increasing the number of women in every level of governance.  “Charters are only as strong as the people who support them but there is a real sense of momentum and desire to make a change. 

Amy Yeates (and GCMA CEO Bob Williams)“I was fortunate enough to attend the Women’s Golf Leadership Group and I have to say the energy was remarkable.

 “It was wonderful to see so many sectors and levels of the industry represented, you really felt that you were part of a bigger movement.

“Every initiative no matter how small will take one step further to realising the goal of the Charter.”

What Yeates hopes most of all is that, in the future, a Charter won’t even be required.

She believes that the real success will be seen when things have changed to the point where it is simply an industry standard to make golf inclusive and welcoming to all.

Williams, meanwhile, remains hugely optimistic about the ongoing work being undertaken by the GCMA – all with the aim of making the Women’s Golf Leadership Group even more inclusive. 

He explained: “That’s what we want it to be, and not just for golf club managers but for people who work and have leadership roles within the game.

“They can then influence. If we can get them together, share knowledge and respect one another’s views, then I think we have got an opportunity.”

Taylor, charged with leading that programme, agrees and believes relationship building, along with effective networking, is vital.

“My previous perception was that women weren’t networking within the industry as much as they possibly could. “But the Women’s Golf Leadership Group is drawing a crowd from all sections of the golf industry, from all areas and all levels as well.

“This, and the Charter, has the potential to make some real, effective, changes if we are all going to collaborate together.

“So far, the conversations have been very much of that nature. “As the GCMA, we are uniquely positioned to support leadership development for women already working in golf clubs so they can take those golf club management positions and see it as a role that they could and would like to do.”



We are proud to be an early signatory to The R&A’s Women In Golf Charter. The men and women we support in management and leadership positions around the UK Regions are passionate about the development and future of the game. We recognise that to successfully manage the clubs we need to strive towards sustainable gender diversity. As  well as being an early signatory to the Charter, we are pleased to be providing specific support for the female members of our association and women in the industry by: 

  • Creating a collaborative and cross industry network under the banner of The Women’s Golf Leadership Group
  • To establish a Women In Leadership programme as a key initiative for developing a platform for female leaders in golf club management
  • To appoint at least one female director to the Board of the Association in 2018 and look to increase this over the next two years
  • Develop a programme to raise awareness among the golf club community about the unconscious bias/differences that women working in golf face everyday


What is The R&A Women in Golf Charter? 

The Women in Golf Charter is designed to inspire an industry- wide commitment to develop a more inclusive culture in the sport.  Adoption of the Charter will require national federations and other golf bodies to build on current initiatives and develop new projects that will focus on encouraging more women and girls to play golf and stay in the sport as members.

It also calls on signatories to take positive action to support the recruitment, retention and progression of women working at all levels and will set individual targets for national associations for participation and membership – with annual reporting of progress.

Martin Slumbers, The R&A chief executive, said: “We are asking the golf industry to recognise the real importance of increasing the number of women and girls playing golf and empowering more women to enjoy successful careers at all levels of the sport.”

By Marie J. Taylor

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