Participation: welcoming women and girls

Participation: welcoming women and girls

Exeter Golf and Country Club won England Golf’s Most Welcoming Club of the Year Award for 2019. So it’s no surprise to discover that they have a large and thriving women’s section.

We’ve been finding out what they do for women and girls.

Tell us about your women’s section?

We’ve got over 150 female members of all ages, from teenagers to players in their late 80s. The section is one of the largest in the region and it’s growing. We have eight or nine women who are academy members at the moment and who will probably move into full membership at some point – and more women who are just starting to with Get into Golf.

What’s the secret?

We surveyed members to find out what women want and what they enjoy about the club. We know they really enjoy being outside, spending time with friends and getting exercise. They also enjoy learning and improving and using the practice facilities.

So, we make sure that’s what they get, with lots of opportunities for play, competition and socialising. We also make it really easy to move from being a non-golfer to a golfer and enjoying that fantastic social life.

How do you do that?

Our professional staff host free taster sessions and run Get into Golf courses, which cost just £35 and are a great way to get started. You learn in a group so you’ve got ready-made golfing companions. For the next step, we’ve just started using Women on Par, England Golf’s scheme to get new women players out on the course. We team up the new golfers with more experienced players and use a special scoring system to help them learn the rules and etiquette. We have a series of these events planned for the summer, finishing with a barbecue. The events are great fun and after the first one we were pleased to hear the women arranging rounds of golf between themselves!

We also have a regular roll up for women beginners who are just starting to play the course and we support women who have had a break from golf, perhaps because of family, work or health issues, and who want to get back into the game.

What about girls?

We’ve been running sessions based on Girls Golf Rocks, which is an England Golf and Golf Foundation project to get more girls playing and making new friends. We also offer golf scholarships giving girls a year’s support in coaching and supervised playing and practice.

What’s the deal for new women members?

We have a waiting list for men, but we’re very keen to grow the women’s section so we offer them a package which includes a free coaching session and afternoon tea for two – and no joining fee, which saves £300.

When experienced golfers join the club we make sure they settle in really quickly. One of our members acts as a golf buddy and introduces them to other golfers, so they’re quickly playing with new friends and enjoying the social life.

What’s next?

We are planning to sign up to The R&A Women in Golf Charter and we aim to be ready to do that autumn.  It reflects our aims of getting more women and girls playing, encouraging families and offering opportunities for women to work in golf.