We’ve got to do something about the L word

What’s in a name? Is ‘ladies’ a term of tradition or just another reason why golf remains stuck in the past? Iain Carter says it’s time for change

When do you hear the words ladies and gentlemen put together? “It’s basically when you use the toilet,” says Iain Carter.

But outside of the lavatory signs, or a theatrical introduction at an old-style music hall, there is another place where the term ‘ladies’ remains de rigueur.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. That would be golf clubs.

Society has moved on. Women’s sport is finally getting the airtime and publicity it deserves and, in golf, Nelly Korda has electrified the planet with her sensational winning displays.

Young people are being inspired to take up the game and the numbers of women and girls picking up a club have been off the chart since the start of the Covid pandemic.

Where they’re not going, though, is into golf club membership and Carter, the BBC Sport golf correspondent who for many is the voice of the game, believes golf can’t properly modernise until it rids itself of labels that belong in a different age.

It’s time, he says, we do something about the L word.

“It’s dated,” he explains. “There has been a fantastic development in women’s sport – and we universally refer to it as women’s sport. We don’t refer to it as ‘Ladies’ sport’.

“It just strikes me that the term ladies is only used in golf clubs and, at a time when women’s sport is really thriving, golf shouldn’t be left behind.

“Members clubs are looking at how they can increase their membership levels and, certainly, their female sections are areas where they can attract new members.

“They want younger members and they can sometimes scratch their heads and say, ‘why don’t young women want to come and play golf?’

“They arrive at golf clubs and see lots of signage referring to ‘ladies’ that is completely counter to anything else they experience in wider society and in their employment.

“It just seems like an outdated term and if golf wants to modernise then I don’t see how outdated terms can help.”

Why is it the Ladies European Tour or the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, Carter asks? It’s not the Ladies Super League in football, or the Ladies National Basketball Association in America.

And he while appreciates others – not least some female members of golf clubs – might feel differently, he adds golf remains on a path not consistent with other sports.

“Look at what every other sport is doing and how they are growing female participation. Because golf is so mired in its traditional terminology, it runs the risk of being overtaken.

“It seems ridiculous when you know women’s golf possesses probably the most exciting sportswoman in the world in Nelly Korda, someone who is transcending and could genuinely attract more and more people to the game – female and male.

“Then people go to golf courses and are labelled with a word that is out of date and indicates the sport isn’t moving with the times.

“That’s a shame, because it is moving with those times, it’s just failing to reflect that in the terminologies it uses.”

By GCMA Content Team

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