CELEBRATING WOMEN'S GOLF DAY TO INSPIRE ACTION

 LET Professional Kylie Henry hosts a clinic at the Women's Golf Day 

LET Professional Kylie Henry hosts a clinic at the Women's Golf Day 

It rained, it poured and at times the wind was strong enough to blow the house down, but the not-so-glorious Scottish weather failed to dampen our spirits as we celebrated International Women’s Golf Day.

The sublime Loch Lomond Golf Club welcomed us with open arms and offered comfort, not to mention warmth, to make us all feel at home.

Some of us were far more at home than others, Belle Robertson MBE made the journey in treacherous weather to offer her support, as did Ladies European Tour player Kylie Henry who had a break in her hectic schedule.

Both players clearly well used to the grandeur of such a golfing establishments.

The Scotland Ladies football manager in waiting, Shelley Kerr, also devoted her valuable time to join the party, along with the PGA’s first appointed female Secretary, Shona Malcolm.

In total there were around 15 women, including myself and Karen Power from the ExposePro team, supported by the exceptionally talented golf pros and staff at Loch Lomond Golf Club.

And the aim of the day was simple, to inspire action and be part of a global movement to create impact.

Several of those present had never picked up a club before, some had tried but not committed, while others simply needed a jolt into playing again.

The figures don’t lie, there are significantly less women playing golf than men, only 14% of club members are female and the key discussion revolved around how to address participation levels.

How can we encourage more women and girls to get involved? What is holding us back in this demographic? What’s being done by the governing bodies to change it? How are clubs driving involvement? How does the teaching of boys and girls differ?

And the conversation was fascinating.

The input of Kylie, Belle and Shona, three women who are influential at the top of the game was a real education.

As women who work in sport, every one of us had a story to tell about our involvement and how it has influenced our lives. Regardless of our career paths, there were many similarities in our experiences.

Role models are key in attracting newcomers to any sport and the Ladies professional tours, both LET and LPGA, are bursting with excellent athletes to inspire the next generation.

Golf is a sport that transcends age, race, gender, religion and nationality and adhering to its traditions instils social skills within players that will stay with them forever.

It’s an excellent game for youngsters to learn, play and grow in and a sport you can take part in for life.

It’s a fabulous networking tool too for businesswomen, discussing work and golf during a round creates a relaxed atmosphere for serious issues.

Those of us in media and positions of influence have to continue to push for equality and a more level playing field for the professionals. The discrepancy in prize money between the ladies and men’s tours is still huge.

Yes supply and demand. I know. But it’s the same game, played across the same format with the same level of dedication from the respective professionals and the margin between prize funds is notable.

But it’s refreshing to see Scotland leading the way and the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open one of the biggest prize funds on the Ladies European Tour calendar.

I urge everyone who hasn’t been to an LET or LPGA event to do so, you will be hooked – and if you have children take them too.

Cementing the message to young girls that they can be sporty, athletic AND glamorous is key. It’s not a compromise. A shorter-format, fun, group event would be smart approach to signing up young girls too.

Golf is more affordable than it’s ever been. These days there are driving ranges, clubs and pay as you play courses open for everyone. Breaking down the misconceptions is crucial to growing the game.

This country boasts an excellent pedigree of female players, but still not enough. We must continue to create pathways for young girls to get involved and progress.

Thanks Women’s Golf Day for giving us a reason to get together and raise awareness. We must keep it in the spotlight. The hard work continues…