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The article below was written by Matt Chivers of National Club Golfer.

The BBC has stuck another dagger into the future of its golf coverage by reportedly rejecting the chances to show PGA Tour coverage for free.

According to the Telegraph, the BBC has refused on “multiple occasions” to show highlights of the PGA Tour even when the corporation wasn’t required to pay for the rights.

Highlights of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass were allegedly on the table, but the BBC has asserted that golf broadcasting “doesn’t suit the demographic” to which the platform wants to appeal.

This news probably won’t shock golf fans who have already been made aware of the BBC’s unwillingness to show golf, particularly the four major championships that attract the largest audiences.

The Telegraph says the PGA Tour was up for allowing the BBC to show highlights of the previous weekend’s action on Monday nights, or whenever it was deemed appropriate without paying rights fees.

The BBC’s rejection seems more damning at a time when players such as Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Tyrrell Hatton are flying the flag so well for the home nations in the states.

Golf fans experienced significant frustration at the end of 2022 when Fitzpatrick was neglected by the Sports Personality of the Year award, with golf as a whole being given a very small segment during the awards ceremony.

The Masters is set to be removed from the BBC’s sports coverage for the first time in 56 years and this has effectively banished the sport from the popular terrestrial channel.

Sky Sports has secured the rights to the Masters, the US Open, the PGA Championship, and the Open Championship, with the broadcasting giant often dedicating a whole channel to golf’s oldest major.

2020 marked the first time in more than half a century that live golf wasn’t shown on the BBC. The voices of Peter Alliss, Ken Brown, and Andrew Cotter became synonymous with settling down and enjoying an evening of action.

In a year, and a week at TPC Sawgrass, where the controversy of LIV Golf has dominated again, golf fans will no doubt be disappointed to hear that top-class professional golf will continue to be subscription-based only.

BBC radio will reportedly maintain its coverage of the Masters and there is a glimmering hope that renegotiation could take place with Augusta National.

The year’s first major will play host to a mixture of PGA Tour stars and LIV Golf rebels who have been allowed to compete on the hallowed turf in Georgia while their exemptions still remain.

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The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.

As Nick Dougherty took his tentative steps in the game, there was always a helping hand. There was his father, who sacrificed to give his son the very best chance of climbing the golfing ladder.

There was Sir Nick Faldo, who spotted the prodigy at a Faldo Junior Series event and took ‘Little Nick’ under his wing.

And there was The Golf Foundation. “They were there at the earliest steps,” says the 40-year-old, who has recently become President of the charity.

He remembers a pivotal moment in his development coming when he was a teenager. He was handed an Outstanding Achievement award from the organisation by former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher at Wentworth – the club where he is now proud to be a member.

“One of the things that is great about The Golf Foundation is that they are there from the very get-go – inspiring kids to get involved and keeping their interest alive. To have an experience like that, to meet someone like Bernard Gallacher, to go to Wentworth, and to win something that was UK-wide was an incredible inspiration to me and had a huge impact on what I did going forward.”

The Golf Foundation’s programmes, as Nick says, have already had a significant influence in bringing young people into the game – whether that’s through Tri-Golf or the equally successful GolfSixes.

But Nick wants to go much further. He believes the way golf interacts with schools is piecemeal, often depending upon ties with a club or the availability of a pro.

And so the three-time European Tour winner, who is beamed into our homes as the main presenter for Sky Sports Golf, is pulling together an incredibly ambitious project.

It won’t just require the resources of The Golf Foundation. It will need every stakeholder in the game – whether that’s governing bodies, brands, and even government – to play their part.

What is Nick’s idea? To put golf onto the school curriculum. To give youngsters in every one of the UK’s 32,000 schools the chance to fall in love with the game.

Here, he explains to GCMA Insights why he’s determined to see it through and the legacy it could leave…


What’s your vision? Every school has a football pitch, an athletics track, a basketball hoop. But it’s a bit more difficult for golf…


We’ve put together a team that’s driving to put golf into all schools. That’s a grandiose ambition. It might seem quite unrealistic, and it’s certainly very expensive. It would cost about £15 million, if we were starting from scratch, just to provide the equipment.

It’s about changing the mentality in schools and getting across the message of what golf does better than other sports. I struggle to be convinced there is any other sport that does a better job of teaching some key life skills.

If you can show the benefits of the sport, golf will be the by-product because we know when you play the game people just generally fall in love with it. Covid was a great demonstrator for how that helped people through a time where mental health really did plummet.

Golf can help kids. It can be like the well-being classes which are in a lot of schools now and are part of the curriculum.

Even if children try it for a term, and decide they don’t want to do it anymore, they will have had a term’s worth of some of those lessons and life skills: whether it be integrity, discipline, work ethic, or the camaraderie.

I want to create a programme which is run by teachers. The PGA do a wonderful job and that should be an option for schools to take up. They should always have the opportunity to bring in a PGA instructor.

If we’re going to be serious about getting golf into all schools, though, that’s a huge cost. But we can create a programme, whether it’s run by the science teacher who just loves golf or the PE teacher, that they can go through step by step.


Does golf understand how big a deal it can be for a young person to go to a club? Is a key part of your idea about giving children access to golf in an environment where they’re comfortable?


It is challenging. It is overwhelming. Even if golf clubs are friendly, they’re huge facilities, with people you’ve never met doing something you’ve never seen before.

It would help massively if we could put golf into schools and they are introduced to the sport there. I also think there is a huge part for driving ranges to play and there are always going to be clubs that do it brilliantly.

I’d like to think the one thing you take from playing this game is that you’re going to help pass it on and make sure you’re allowing future generations to come into it. That’s our duty and what The Golf Foundation have been doing for a long time.

But that starts in schools. Sure, some of these children will never play it again. At least they will have tried. It’s like trying to get my kids to eat broccoli. The only thing I demand is that you try it. If you then say to me, ‘I don’t want to do it’, I’m cool with that.

We need to be like that with golf – to give them the canvas. Let them decide. We’re not jamming it down their throats. Just go and play the game and it will do its thing.

That’s a part of what we have to do with the messaging and it’s a huge operation. But being in schools is incredibly important because you’re exposing children to what the game is. I think the game is good enough. It’s a sport that has no negative effects and only benefits.


This is going to require a very unified approach from the many agencies involved in golf…


One of the things we’re going to have to rely on is everybody working together and that’s been one of my takes from sitting in board meetings with The Golf Foundation.

They really do have all the most important people in the UK and Ireland in the room. They have the people who can move mountains in golf.

I know it’s difficult. I know there is always politics in sport and people have objectives and pull in different directions because that’s their job. They have to protect their members or their people who are involved with their company or corporation. For this to work, we all have to pull the same way at the same time.


I want to go back to the coaching briefly because, previously, campaigns of this sort might have been delivered by PGA pros but that comes with huge time consequences. Is the idea of teachers being able to deliver this programme the gamechanger?


It’s about how to hold a club, how to stand to it, what the feeling should be, how to make the club move away – real basics. We can give those tools to a PE instructor.

I want it to be an online learning platform for instructors and for the delivery of the classes: how it should look in week one, week two, the games to play – it’s all in one place and super simple. It’s like a lesson plan and it’s about ‘click and follow’.

The last thing I want to do is harm the PGA and I think a lot of this has to be driven by the PGA. There still needs to be oversight of the programme. But oversight isn’t the cost.


The cost is going to be a real stumbling block…


The big thing we’re going to come up against is, ‘oh, the cost’. Let’s assume none of the schools are going to pay – even though lots already do – and no one wants to spend any money. We’ve got to generate the ballpark figure of £15 million that it will cost to deliver the equipment.

That’s without rolling out the system, so we do need to make this watertight. It’s got to be self-sustainable. It’s got to be something that’s super easy to apply – where there isn’t really an excuse not to do it.

I’d like to think once we started to see the effects, and we started to hit some really big numbers across the first year and the second year, it will become self-sustaining.

Going into every school is not going to happen in six months. It’s going to take a few years for us to get there and do it well. Imagine if we put golf into the 32,000 schools across the UK and Ireland? If we managed to do that, think about how it would change the way the Government looks at it.

Perhaps they would then want to, or be forced to, get behind something that helps mental health, helps children get the most out of their education and gives them skills to help them go forward in their life. Isn’t that the whole ethos of what school is supposed to do? We have a sport that does that.


If your ambition is to bring more young golfers into the game, then golf clubs have got to step up too…


They’ve got to help themselves a little bit. That means looking forward to realise they are their new members. Without going into detail, my plan will involve golf clubs playing a huge part. That will require the golfing nations to speak to them independently to express what we’re trying to achieve and help make the future brighter.

There will inevitably be clubs that push back and aren’t really interested but that is a mentality that’s changing. Whether the pace is [quick enough], I’m not so sure and that’s the bit I find just a little bit disappointing.

I’m not sure we’ve done enough yet. There are still plenty of examples of things we’d get embarrassed about.

We talk about the great things in our sport. You see the wonderful things that people and organisations like The Golf Foundation are doing. You go to The Open and see how that feels for kids. We’re doing it right. So many clubs are endeavouring to do it right and get better at what they do. It’s a slow burner.

But some clubs aren’t really doing anything because they think the members won’t like it. We have to change that. They have to want to change that.

I’d like to feel if we can really get some momentum with this then there would be an element of feeling embarrassed at being on the outside looking in.

I really hope we get to a tipping point where people feel they should really be a part of this and would feel bad if they weren’t doing their bit for the future of the game.


This is a very ambitious programme. It will require huge commitment. But you seem very optimistic?


There’s so much to say but if you look through the various golf and health reports from The R&A, and so on, how much more do you need? That’s why you should be playing golf – whether you are an old man or a young girl.

Golf gave me an opportunity. It doesn’t care if you’re stick thin, overweight, small, tall, and nor should it care where you come from. We have to put clubs into the hands of kids who wouldn’t have that opportunity.  

I look back. What if my dad hadn’t managed to achieve what he did in his life, being from the wrong side of the tracks in Liverpool, to use the money he was earning to give me a chance to play golf?

We could have used that for so many other things in our lives. But he said, ‘No. Golf’. He put me in that position. He gave his hard-earned money for me to go and have lessons from a good PGA coach in Richard Bradbeer at Royal Birkdale.

I’ve gone on and made a career in this sport. Golf gave me that, but dad gave that commitment. What we want to do is stop mums and dads from having to make that kind of decision.

It’s a no-brainer to try. It’s a huge idea. I know it will be met with resistance in some places. But if we can create the right messaging and get schools understanding what it does, then it makes it very hard for a school to say no.

We’re not asking for anything. We’re just giving the opportunity. Getting the numbers will be the hard bit, as will getting it off the ground and making real headway.

But when it’s got momentum, I think it will fly and it will just become what we do. If we could just realise that dream then golf in the UK would change completely.

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The article below was written by George Cooper and Matt Chivers of National Club Golfer.

With the LIV Golf world rankings debacle causing havoc within the breakaway league, we track just how far has defector fallen in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).


LIV Golf world rankings

While the growing list of players defecting to LIV Golf continues to produce an endless amount of controversy, backlash, and legal conflict over their future endeavours, one of the biggest issues facing the league’s rebels is their plummeting positions in the OWGR.

As it stands, the Greg Norman-led series has not received OWGR accreditation, meaning players have been unable to collect world ranking points for playing in the LIV Golf invitational events.

Couple this with the PGA Tour indefinitely banning LIV’s rebels from returning to their circuit (for now), and we’ve already seen the defectors begin to plummet in the OWGR.

But just how far are we talking? Well, here’s a table showing where LIV’s stars ranked prior to joining the breakaway series, and where they sit today…


OWGR of LIV Golf players

PlayerPre-LIV rankingCurrent rankingDifference
Cameron Smith25-3
Dustin Johnson1365-52
Brooks Koepka19106-87
Joaquin Niemann1927-8
Louis Oosthuizen20104-84
Abraham Ancer2030-10
Paul Casey27102-75
Bryson DeChambeau29143-114
Jason Kokrak3280-48
Kevin Na3388-55
Talor Gooch3550-15
Harold Varner III4251-9
Patrick Reed3866-28
Sergio Garcia54149-95
Cameron Tringale5587-32
Marc Leishman63101-38
Richard Bland66110-44
Matt Jones68132-64
Shaun Norris69174-105
Phil Mickelson71374-303
Sam Horsfield72141-69
Lee Westwood74276-202
Matthew Wolff77188-111
Bubba Watson86208-122
Ian Poulter89151-62
Bernd Wiesberger90154-64
Hudson Swafford91144-53
Anirban Lahiri9197-6
Scott Vincent109121-12
Laurie Canter114194-80
Branden Grace118218-100
Sadom Kaewkanjana11883+35
Carlos Ortiz119274-155
Charl Schwartzel120201-81
Phachara Khongwatmai136184-48
Sihwan Kim164235-71
Adrian Otaegui16585+80
Pat Perez168245-77
Charles Howell III171324-153
Henrik Stenson171178-7
Hideto Tanihara173220-47
Martin Kaymer210638-428
Wade Ormsby265323-58
Peter Uihlein311426-115
Turk Pettit600747-147
Thomas Pieters3542-7
Danny Lee267267
Brendan Steele118120-2
Dean Burmester5974-15
Mito Pereira4653-7
Sebastian Munoz93108-15


And, if the stats weren’t alarming enough for these players, the trend appears in no danger of slowing down soon.

While Greg Norman’s series is undergoing an application to obtain accreditation from the OWGR board, the hurdles couldn’t be greater at this moment in time.

Approval can take anything between one and two years, and even then, LIV’s field size is not greater than 75, LIV Golf events are not contested over 72 holes, and they do not involve a cut – just a few of the compulsory elements the OWGR requires in its rules and regulations.

At the end of the LIV Golf League 2023 season, the LIV Promotions Event will take place which takes a Q-school-type form to allow a pathway for external players to join the league.

Four players at the bottom of the LIV Golf individual leaderboard will be relegated and four spots will be up for grabs in the 2024 season.

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The article below was written by our friends at National Club Golfer.

The Players Championship hole-in-one hits differently from any other as the ace has been achieved at one of the world’s most iconic golf courses.

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, the host venue of the PGA Tour’s flagship event, contains four fabulous short holes where the world’s best players take dead aim once a year.

The iconic 17th hole is the one that springs to mind, both when talking about Sawgrass and essentially any conversation that concerns par-3s.

Not only is the tee shot threatening, but this green at TPC Sawgrass has larger slopes than meet the eye on your television screens. Although it is only 137 yards, just the sight of the island green is hugely intimidating, but this hasn’t stopped a number of players from finding the bottom of the cup from the tee.

In the latest playing of The Players, three players found the bottom of the cup.

Hayden Buckley was the first with just the sixth shot of the tournament into this hole…

That was followed by Englishman Aaron Rai during Saturday’s third round…

Rai is the first player from England – and, indeed, the UK – to have an ace at The Players – and this was followed by Alex Smalley…

It was the first ace of Smalley’s career on Tour and the first one in the final round of the Players Championship since Fred Couples in 1997.

Who has had a Players Championship hole-in-one?

3rd hole (177 yards)

– Jim Gallagher (1986)
– Russ Cochran (1994)
– Chris DiMarco (2001)
– Seamus Power (2019)

8th hole (237 yards)

– Gary Hallberg (1994)
– Mark Brooks (1997)
– Bob Friend (1999)
– Naomichi Ozaki (2000)
– Ted Tryba (2000)
– Michael Thompson (2013)
– Brendon Todd (2021)
– Viktor Hovland (2022)

13th hole (181 yards)

– Chip Beck (1992)
– Phil Mickelson (1995)
– Jay Don Blake (1996)
– Craig Stadler – (2002)
– Jose Maria Olazabal (2004)
– Justin Leonard (2006)
– Jesper Parnevik (2006)
– Henrik Stenson (2006)
– Fred Couples (2006)
– Robert Garrigus (2008)
– Chris Stroud (2013)
– Sungjae Im (2019)

17th (137 yards)

– Brad Fabel (1986)
– Brian Claar (1991)
– Fred Couples (1997)
– Joey Sindelar (1999)
– Paul Azinger (2000)
– Miguel Angel Jimenez (2002)
– Willy Wilcox (2016)
– Sergio Garcia (2017)
– Ryan Moore (2019)
– Shane Lowry (2022)
– Hayden Buckley (2023)
– Aaron Rai (2023)
– Alex Smalley (2023)

Country-by-country breakdown

– USA: 26
– Spain: 3
– Ireland: 2
– Sweden: 2
– England: 1
– Japan: 1
– Norway: 1
– South Korea: 1

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The cost of living has got many of us feeling the pinch. But its impact on golfers and the golf industry as a whole is varied.

Golf club membership fees aren’t going anywhere any time soon, but what’s the current state of play, and can this well-established model be flexible given the current economic backdrop?

We speak to Headingley Golf Club manager Jon Hall below on how the Yorkshire club has budgeted in line with the cost of living, and its approach to membership fees.

golf club membership fees

A golf club’s financial planning need not be rocket science. We have a good understanding of what we need to maintain the course and clubhouse to a decent standard, and because we’re always working to a rolling 5-10 year development and CapEx plan (course and clubhouse changes, course machinery etc.), we know that too. 

In simple terms, our income comes from three main streams; membership fees, visitor green fees, and gross profit from the bar. Once we have set our budget for the green fees and bar, we then need to calculate what our membership fees need to be in order to cover all of our expected costs. We never want the club to fall into problems in years to come, so we have always budgeted cautiously and include contingency sums if required.


Golf club membership fees

golf club membership fees

We’ve always applied an annual increase to subscriptions to keep up with the general cost of living. Some golf clubs fall into the trap of not increasing their fees which is a huge mistake as you’ll never get it back. That 2% you didn’t charge extra for compounds, and you fall back. Your wages have to go up every year, costs go up every year, and there hasn’t been a year when that hasn’t happened—so we’ve always tried to budget responsibly.

We sit down in October each year and look at all the indicators of inflation—of which there are generally five different ones—and we also have a spreadsheet with the current number of members. We know what the subs for the current year are, so we can work out what the expected revenue will be. Some years there will have been a 1, 2, 3 and 4% increase for inflation—this year, that multiplier will be 4, 6, 8 and 10% increases.

Then we make an educated guess about how many members we will lose at the end of the year. Members leave golf clubs every year regardless—that’s just a factor of club golf. Typically, our annual net attrition of adult playing members is about 7%, but this can vary. In a good year, we might have just 25 leaving, but in some tough years, like during the last recession, we had up to 60 leave. Again, some guesswork is required at this stage, so we’ll discuss the general economy, member satisfaction, and so on before cautiously deciding on an increase. Once that’s decided, we’ll release a fee schedule for the ensuing year with an explanatory note to our members. 

A few weeks later, members will receive their fee invoices, which will normally give them several weeks before their renewal date of January 1. Like many clubs, we also allow members to pay in instalments, and this option is now taken up by about 15% of our members and is an invaluable tool to retain them.


The economic climate

golf club membership fees

One of the best indicators of the current financial situation every year is how many young members leave. Older members have generally already made their money and are financially secure, so they’ll keep going as long as their health and desire permit. However, we also have a large cohort of members under 40, so we take particular notice of how many of these younger people are leaving, which influences some of our thinking regarding fees. There will obviously be a concern about the job market and cost of living, but I’m pleased to say that we haven’t had a particularly high number of members leaving in the past couple of months. 

In previous years, our normal operating income and expenditure have been stable, so the sudden cost increases have provided a definite challenge. Energy costs have tripled in some cases, and of course, different clubs have been affected in different ways depending on what type and length of contract they were in. We’ve not done too badly, but with long-term contracts coming up for renewal and the government support ending soon, this is something we have to keep an eye on—and again, budget for responsibly.  

Another impact of the cost of living has been that we’ve focused much more on energy efficiency. We have embarked on several energy-saving initiatives, such as LED lighting and fitting timers to appliances, so some long-term good has come from all of this too.

However, we’re a golf club. And, in many ways, we use what we use, and we still have to function—so there has to be an element of ‘sucking it up’.

Having applied an increase in fees of just under 6% this year and also increased staff wages by a similar amount, we have worked hard with all our suppliers to keep their increases manageable. We have to be fair with everyone.

Generally speaking, membership golf clubs are fortunate that many members will sometimes pay their subs before paying their mortgage, as it’s a huge part of their lives, but you can never take anything for granted. We’ll always ensure that our members know we care about them, want to keep improving the course and keep the club moving forward. This can be difficult, though, as everybody’s expectations are getting higher and higher. 

Where we do think we offer great value for money is the ability to play year-round golf; we don’t like to close the course, don’t use winter greens, and we don’t use artificial tees or fairway mats. We compare well with peer clubs in this regard, but we know we still have a long way to go and have ambitious plans to build more tees and paths to cope with the ever-growing demand of modern golfers. 


Looking ahead

Having begun my tenure at Headingley at the end of 2008, just as the world was slumping into recession, my honest view is that the current challenges will not be so protracted and deep as they were then—when golf was in seemingly terminal decline.

The golf industry, like cycling and fishing, for example, received a huge boost during the Covid pandemic, as so many new people were introduced to the sport. So, in effect, many golf clubs have entered the current cost-of-living crisis in good health and should be in a good position to ride out the storm.

At Headingley, we had already built up a healthy cash reserve and have managed to fund several course and clubhouse improvements without the need for borrowing. In my time at the club, we have always been very risk-averse, and our finances have been very well managed by our committees. All of this has laid the foundations for the club to move forward with confidence.

Many thanks to Jon for his time and insight.

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Are attitudes towards women in golf changing?

It’s undeniable that attitudes towards women in sport are shifting. The Lionesses’ triumph in 2022’s European Football Championships, for example, signalled a level of interest and excitement towards women’s football that had previously not been seen in the UK.

But when it comes to women’s golf in the UK, how much inequality still lingers? How rife is everyday sexism, both at a professional and a grassroots level? Do girls feel truly empowered to take up—and stick with—golf from a young age?

Ultimately, are we making any headway when it comes to championing women in the game of golf?


Women in golf: the research

We carried out a nationally representative survey of 2,011 UK residents across golf and 21 other sports, looking at opinions on a range of issues, from the role of female pundits to how often Brits watch women’s golf on TV.

We also delved into long-held stereotypes of what constitutes a “male” vs. a “female” sport and explored why one in five men has played golf in their lifetime compared to only 7% of women.


Inequality in women’s golf

Overall, survey respondents acknowledged that, in general, inequality exists within the game, with 77% of people agreeing this is the case.

Interestingly, though, 80% of women said there is inequality, vs 74% of men, showing differing perceptions even amongst those who agree there is an issue.


Women in golf: viewing habits

women in golf

More than a quarter (28%) of men told us they have watched men’s golf, compared to just 11% of men who have watched women’s golf. Just 12% of people, male and female, have watched women’s golf.

Almost half (45%) of all people, and 60% of men, say they generally prefer to watch men’s sport than women’s. Just one in 10 people have watched the women’s PGA tour compared to a quarter of people who have watched the men’s version.

When asked about major golf tournaments, 55% of those surveyed said there should be a female version of the Masters. However, one in 10 men disagree, arguing that the Masters should be a men’s only golf competition.

And it’s not just women out on the fairways who are discriminated against. Almost one in 10 people said that the opinions of female pundits are less valid than that of their male counterparts. This view was most prevalent among survey respondents aged 55 and over.

women in golf


The gender pay gap

Although recent BBC analysis found that 83% of sports now reward men and women equal prize money, a significant gender pay gap still exists, and runs into the tens of millions for some sports.

According to PGA data, the world’s highest paid male golfer is Phil Mickelson, who earned an eye-watering $138m (£114.6m) in 2022. You’ll find much smaller pay packets in the women’s game. For example, the highest paid professional female golfer in 2022 was Minjee Lee, who took home a total of $7.3m (£6m).

In addition, in the Forbes 2022 Highest Paid Athletes List, just two women—Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams – made the top 50.

Despite this clear discrepancy between men and women doing the same job, a quarter of people we surveyed agreed that male golfers deserve to be paid more than female ones. This rises to 35% amongst men.


Inequality in grassroots golf

With discussions around women in professional sport now much higher on the agenda, it can be easy to forget the importance of encouraging female participation in sport at grassroots level.

Whether at amateur level, in a local league or just amongst friends as a hobby, getting active through sports like golf plays a vital role in maintaining good public health—both physical and mental. A thriving grassroots scene has also been proven to deliver a range of benefits to society, bringing people together and building community spirit.

However, we found that men are disproportionately playing golf in their day-to-day lives, with 20% of men having played the sport in their lifetime vs just 7% of women.


Why are people put off playing golf?

To dig into this statistic a little deeper, we asked people why are put off playing. Around six in 10 (64%) of women said that it just “isn’t their thing”, with far fewer men (41%) giving this reason.

A quarter of people stated that their fitness levels hold them back from playing sport, with a lack of self-confidence, time and disposable income also cited as reasons for a lack of participation. Unfortunately, of course, physical sport isn’t always available to all, with almost 10% of people saying they have a disability which prevents them from playing.

One in seven people told us that they were never encouraged to play sport in school, so they haven’t played as an adult, highlighting the crucial role that school-age sport has to play in our lifelong participation levels.

women in golf


Inequality at school

Lastly, our survey explored the level of gender inequality amongst school-age children. We found that 70% of women and 55% of men believe girls face barriers when it comes to participation in golf.

women in golf

There’s also a clear difference between the number of men who have consider golf either as a hobby or a career choice compared to women. Nearly a third (30%) of men have considered playing golf as a regular hobby, while one in 10 has also considered a career in professional golf.

As for women, just 14% have considered playing golf as a hobby, with almost no women saying they have considered it as a career.


Where do girls face the biggest barriers to participation in golf?

Interestingly, there were differing views on this topic across regions of the UK. When asked “Do girls face barriers to participation in sport?”, 75% of respondents in Northern Ireland said yes. This was followed by 62% of people in the South East and 58% of people in the North East. Just 44% and 45% of people said yes in Wales and Scotland, respectively, pointing to a potentially more inclusive culture for girls’ sport in those areas.


Should girls be allowed to play golf?

We also uncovered some surprising and outdated opinions around which sports “should” be played by boys and girls. Around half (49%) of people stated that some sports are more naturally suited to men than women, with just 35% of those surveyed agreeing that women have the potential to be as good, or better, than men at most sports.

One in seven men surveyed (14%) think women and girls shouldn’t play golf, with this view perhaps surprisingly more likely to be cited among younger generations. A fifth of 16–24-year-olds don’t think women should play golf, compared to just 6% of people aged 55+. 



What’s evident throughout our research is that, despite some solid progress being made regarding attitudes towards women in golf and wider sport, true parity is still a long way off.

Championing positive role models, pushing for greater visibility, and delivering more output on TV will all support the advancement of women’s golf across the UK.



We surveyed a nationally representative panel of 2,011 UK residents in January 2023 and analysed their responses.


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