Golf Australia’s general manager for entry, David Gallichio, hopes to see the perception of golf shift as a privileged “men’s sport” to a more inclusive hobby.
“Minjee’s win was absolutely fantastic and there is no doubt that she will be an inspiration for girls to pick up the sport as we progress.
“They have an impact and they show that it is a sport that everyone can participate in [in]† It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, you could win like Minjee did,” Gallichio said.
According to Golf Australia, 2.7 million people play the sport across the country. On official courses, the gender distribution is about 75 percent men to 25 women and off-court (including games such as mini golf) about 57 men to 43 women.
The gender inequality on the court may seem huge, but Gallichio said there has been a noticeable increase in the number of young female players since last year. When their national junior golf program began, women’s membership was only 20 percent, but that number is starting to grow.
“This year we’re at about 30 percent for the first time and the trend continues to rise, which is great,” Gallichio says.
Golf Australia launched a strategy called ‘Vision 2025’ in 2018 to tackle gender inequalities in sport.
“The aim of the strategy is to ensure that not only Golf Australia or the PGA or the WPGA are welcoming and inclusive for women and girls, but that every golf club, every public course, every golf facility across the country welcomes women. and girls,” said Gallichio.
Matilda plays golf every Saturday morning with her instructor, Claire Traill, at the Northcote course. Traill argues for the importance of diverse representation and exposure to legendary local-gone-global players such as Karrie Webb and Hannah Green†
“If you see it, you can be it,” she said.
“As a society, we’re starting to see the value of both genders, and more fathers have started letting their daughters play golf.”
Seeing a recognizable young Australian woman achieve international success would have a significant impact on how many young girls follow, Traill said.
“I coach about 30 kids… We’re probably about one-third girls and two-thirds boys, but before COVID hit I would have said it was about one in five girls for boys. So girls are starting to come along more and more.
“However you identify, golf is a real leveler and there is a place for everyone on the course.”
The Northcote Golf Course has recently been the source of fiery discussion following the council’s decision to convert part of the track into parking.
The city of Darebin voted in May for: unlocks 5.72 hectares of space and to investigate that golfers will not be able to access the greens after 3:00 PM. This raised concerns among golfers that it could mean the end of accessible, community-oriented fairways.
Traill said extensive access to the course is vital for junior players as many of them play after school. If the course were closed to players after 3 p.m., students would have to seek alternative jobs, many of which charge a fee.
“Each of the juniors, they get to play for free [at Northcote]† So they do come and they use the course quite regularly,” she said. “They go to school during the week, so it’s vital that we still have access there.”
Matilda was initially embarrassed when she was told her video was becoming so popular online, but when she heard that Lee had commented, she jumped on her bed and yelled, “This is the best day of my life”.
“It’s kind of rare to be a young girl in golf and have a role model in golf. It’s easy for a football fan or something like that, but [golf] is not a common sport among seven-year-old girls,” Lincoln said.
Could Matilda be the next Minjee Lee? Her swing at age seven could indicate that. But her father wants her to focus on the fun rather than the competitive side of the sport for as long as possible.
“We’re not pressuring her at the moment,” he said. “As long as she wants to keep playing, we will support her.”
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