Martin Slumbers is making up for lost time. Whether the launch of the R&A chief executive’s Women in Golf Charter can reverse years of British golf authorities neglecting women’s golf remains to be seen.
Slumbers is putting the R&A’s money where his mouth is with an £80 million investment over the next 10 years to increase the number of women and girls in golf, and encourage more job opportunities for women to work in golf.
The R&A head spelled out five specific aims of the R&A Charter: “strengthen the focus on gender balance and provide a united position for the golf industry; commit national federations and organizations to support measures targeted at increasing participation of women girls and families in golf; call on signatories to take positive action to support the recruitment, retention and progression of women working at all levels of the sport; set individual targets for national federations for participation and membership and annual reporting of progress; and develop an inclusive environment for women and girls within golf.”
Slumbers said: “The Charter is a strong statement of intent from the golf industry that it has to change, and a commitment on behalf of all of us to take measures designed to achieve positive change for women, girls and families. This is crucial to growing participation.”
The Englishman is to be commended for this initiative. British golf authorities have previously either done too little to encourage women to take up the game, or have merely paid lip service to the issue. It’s a sad indictment of the game that we still have clubs with no female members, or even junior members.
It’s hard to imagine how many women and girls have been turned off the game because of the chauvinistic attitudes embedded in golf’s status quo.
Slumbers has shown a determination to alter that status quo since he took office in 2015. Predecessor Peter Dawson was successful in helping women become members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club before he left office, forcing other all-male clubs to follow suit. However, Slumbers has gone further by placing a huge emphasis on arresting the fall of women playing the game.
Let’s hope he achieves what should have been achieved decades ago.