The CGI and ILGU have launched an innovative campaign to drive girls and ladies participation in all aspects of golf in Ireland. Level Par was launched last week and the programme is a culmination of work carried out by the R&A, Sport Ireland and the governing bodies for amateur golf in Ireland. Anne McCormack heads the programme on behalf of The Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI), and with the support of Chief Executives of the GUI and ILGU Pat Finn and Sinead Heraty, Level Par was established in mid-2019 after reviewing the available research. “Level Par is a four pillar programme for golf, inspired by the Sport Ireland Women in Sport Policy and The Women in Golf Charter,” explains McCormack.
“It centres on establishing fairness for all, in the areas of Leadership and Governance, Coaching and Officiating, Active Participation and Visibility. Women are underrepresented across the four pillars,’ McCormack pointed out. “Acknowledging the number of female coaches for example, less than 20 of a workforce of 600 PGA Professionals in Ireland are women. The evidence states the average number of girls at a club doubles where a female PGA professional is present – you begin to realise that everything is connected.” The R&A launched the Women in Golf Charter in 2018, intending to inspire an industry-wide commitment to developing a more inclusive culture within golf. This was given more in early 2019, when Sport Ireland introduced the Women in Sport Policy. Inspired by this, a working group from Ireland’s governing bodies for golf decided something was needed to ensure the sport was prepared to join the journey. Owing to historic membership patterns, just over half of female golfers are full members of their clubs, compared to 81% of men. Additionally, only 110 of nearly 400 golf clubs in Ireland currently meet the gender balance on management committee, that is documented in the Golf Ireland proposal which seeks a minimum of 30% of members are female and 30% are male.
“The fact that we are now moving towards a single governing body in itself will play a huge part in shifting the culture of the sport. It is in everyone’s best interest. How seriously Sport Ireland and The R&A are taking their commitment to equality outlines how meaningful it is for the future of sport. Additionally, the importance of ensuring Level Par does not become a case of ‘male versus female’ has been noted by all involved. We need to highlight that we’re not looking for women to get any more than men. We want equality, but these initiatives are essential as females have been under represented in all aspects for the past 125 years,” said McCormack.