I hesitated to pen this piece. Probably the last thing International Women’s Day or women in general for that matter need is another man giving his opinion on their experiences in life. There are other, better articles than mine from successful and brilliant women chronicling the topics I want to cover. Still, I feel a sense of responsibility to help bring these issues to further discussion, as I believe they’re not only not receiving the attention they warrant, but my section of the industry has been particularly negligent to this plight. I’ve been in the golf business for a while now, and the experience of women has long necessitated an uncomfortable conversation. With that being said, it’s international women’s day, so let’s talk about women and golf.
I’m not going to speak on professional golf. That’s not my world. I’m here to talk about what it’s like for a woman to work at and patron a golf course. I’ve worked at various courses full time for almost a decade, played courses for over twenty years, and one of the unfortunate constants no matter where I’ve been is the less than equal experience of women staff and customers. Amateur golf is, in my view, fraught with inequalities and outdated opinions that are discriminating a percentage of participants who, despite their treatment, remain devout players and enthusiasts.
Let’s start with female employees. Every female employee of a golf course I’ve ever talked to has relayed a story of harassment. No matter how long they’ve worked there, no matter what capacity they’ve been employed in, they’ve shared an experience where a male patron got creepy and crossed the line. What’s worse, when they’ve shared stories of
golfers harassers committing these acts, they’re nearly universally dismissed by their management. Course management is too afraid of making customers uncomfortable by asking them to not perv out the staff that they’d rather allow their employees to keep getting harassed. That’s fucked. Golf doesn’t need business so bad that a culture of harassment towards female staff should be allowed. I shouldn’t be hearing shit like, “do you have any sexy cart girls on the menu,” when I walk in the grill, and, if I do, I should be allowed to slam the sonofabitch’s face who said it into the bar top. It’s way past time for the golf business to get a handle on the way its patrons treat female staff.
Life isn’t much better for women golfers either. I routinely hear asinine questions like, “you didn’t put us behind any women did you? I don’t want to wait,” from guys who couldn’t shoot sub 100 in less than 5 hours if someone had a gun to their head. Every course I’ve ever worked at has had an enthusiastic Women’s Golf Association full of ladies that play consistently faster and better than their male counterparts. They’re also all innately subjugated to not only the Men’s Golf Association but the unfortunately predominately male tee sheet as well. I’ve heard things like, “well we can’t play at that time we don’t want to be in the MGA’s way.” This probably wouldn’t be the case if too many of my professional colleagues didn’t perpetuate this mindset by drafting tee sheets that designate the least desirable times for female play. Women’s amateur and professional golf is a growing and untapped market full of loyal participants. It’s time for my industry peers to prioritize these ladies the way they deserve.
It’s maddeningly frustrating that a business which routinely discusses its decline and urgency for greater participation is actively creating hostility toward an entire sex of customers and staff. For too long the business of amateur golf has prioritized cornering the geriatric pervert demographic and now that that well has not only run dry but begun rebuking the industry that catered to it exclusively, rather than seek new participants, the golf business is doubling down and continuing to shun young women, and women in general, seeking patronage.
There is much more to discuss. There is greater detail to go into. One could and needs to devote an entire piece to the solutions needed to make golf a more egalitarian sport at the amateur level. One also needs to do an entire piece on the disgusting shit female staff have had said to them so these creepy fucks can be brought to light. At the very least I hope this piece gives pause to my fellow golfers and golf staff and makes them reflect on how much better of a place we can make it for women. If golf is going to have a chance of survival the absolute least it must do is make the amateur world an equal and welcoming staff and customer environment.