A new program unveiled by the PGA of Australia and WPGA aims to not only provide an inviting entry point for women new to the game of golf but also showcase the female coaches who can guide them.
The Women’s Golf Network was launched at Yarra Yarra Golf Club in Melbourne on March 22 and was followed by a full day of clinics and networking for 80 participants at Ballarat Golf Club.
With sponsorship from both adidas and Callaway REVA they represent the first of 12 clinics to be conducted around the country by mid-July with an expectation that more will follow in the second half of the year.
Each day consists of an adidas Performance Clinic for established golfers and the Callaway REVA Beginner Clinic for those new to the game and continues the collaboration between the PGA of Australia and the rebranded WPGA Tour.
The goals are twofold. To provide an encouraging environment for women eager to try golf for the first time and to provide a pathway for existing golfers to further their games and perhaps join the growing number of women working within the golf industry.
“Golf has seen a surge in popularity over the past 12 months but we understand that some women can find that initial introduction to the game somewhat intimidating,” says WPGA CEO Karen Lunn.
“With the Women’s Golf Network we wanted to create an opportunity for ladies to come and try golf in clinics run by our female PGA Professionals and for those girls and ladies already playing to receive expert coaching and get the most out of their golf.”
Lee Harrington completed her traineeship at Riverside Oaks in the mid-1990s and now runs The Golf School based at Palm Meadows Driving Range on the Gold Coast.
As a past board member of the ALPG and currently Director of Development for the WPGA, Harrington has no doubt that exclusively using female Professionals provides the environment that women new to the game are looking for.
States such as Queensland and New South Wales have seen increases in female participation of some 25 per cent year on year in the summer just past. Whether returning to the game or new golfers completely, the Women’s Golf Network caters to all women.
“The comment that we hear is that it is nice to spend some time with a female coach,” says Harrington.
“Every coach communicates a little bit differently but I’d like to think as female PGA Professionals we’re fairly engaging.
“For those in the adidas Performance Clinic, we conduct a clinic in the morning and then send them out onto the golf course in the afternoon.
“Those in the Callaway REVA Beginner Clinic join us for lunch and networking, participate in a clinic with our coaches and then we all finish together with networking drinks.”
Currently making up just six per cent of all PGA Professionals in Australia, the Women’s Golf Network also serves as a showcase of female coaches, PGA of Australia CEO Gavin Kirkman hopeful that number will increase significantly in the coming years.
“In order to have more female coaches we need more women playing the game so the Women’s Golf Network is first and foremost a way to encourage more female golfers,” Kirkman says.
“But as their journey in golf continues we hope that they will see the opportunities available to them within the golf industry, one of which is to undertake our Member Pathway Program and one day move into coaching themselves.
“The industry has recognised that greater engagement with women is integral to the future health of our sport and a big part of that is having talented and accomplished female coaches at our golf clubs.”
Given such significant growth within the female sector the past year Harrington believes more clubs than ever recognise the value that having more women at their facilities represents to the business.
“Overall I think clubs as a business understand the value of the female and the family more than they ever have,” says Harrington.
“That’s good for the bottom line and good for getting more women and beginners into the game.”
The Women’s Golf Network aims to inspire women to play golf by showcasing female professional golfers; providing a warm environment to play golf and the opportunity to network with like-minded women. The Women’s Golf Network mantra is to be inspired, have fun, play golf. The next Women’s Golf Network event will be held at Royal Canberra Golf Club on Monday, April 19 with further clinics to be held in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. www.womensgolfnetwork.com.au
Women’s Golf Network schedule
April 19 Royal Canberra GC
April 26 Latrobe GC
May 9 Bunbury GC
May 13 Wembley GC
May 20 The Grange GC
May 24 The Lakes GC
June 3 Long Reef GC
June 6 Coolangatta & Tweed Heads GC
July 11 Windaroo Lakes GC
TBC Moore Park GC