LPGA Girls Golf: Empowering Women through Golf
An Exclusive Interview with the LPGA Program Manager for the Girl’s Golf Initiative
The LPGA has been instrumental in growing the popularity of golf among women. As a governing body within the game of golf, they are always striving in finding creative ways of getting more women involved in the game, as well as retaining them for years to come.
Throughout the last few years the LPGA has put strong efforts into an initiative called, “Girls Golf.” This is a female-centered program lead by LPGA and PGA Professionals whose mission is to provide high quality golf instruction while promoting valuable life skills that can be used on and off the golf course.
The Girls Golf program operates under the “The five E’s” of Golf:
- Empower – girls with confidence and inspire them to dream big
- Enrich – girls lives by expanding their minds and horizons
- Engage – girls with positive female role models and mentors
- Energize – girls with the passion for the game of golf
- Exercise – girls’ minds and bodies helping them unlock their full potential.
These core values are influential in shaping the young minds of women golfers, not just on the course but also in everyday life experiences.
To learn more about this program, I had the pleasure of talking with Ashleigh McLaughlin, the Programs and Marketing Manager for the LPGA Foundation’s Girls Golf Initiative. She offered very valuable insight into this mission (and women’s golf), as well as the increasing interest that it has brought to many young women golfers across the nation.
Summer (Blogger): Have you seen the number of interested girl golfers grow since the program’s conception?
Ashleigh: Absolutely. The number of girls participating in Girls Golf programs has skyrocketed: From 5,000 participants in 2010 to 60,000 participants by the end of 2016.
Summer: What do you attribute the success of the Girls Golf Program?
Ashleigh: It has been a grassroots movement in getting more young women to golf. The Girls Golf mission has been to get more girls golfing…together. Many young girls like to do activities with their friends, so this program promotes golf as something that you and your friends can all have fun playing as a collective group.
Summer: What is the cost and accessibility for these kind of programs?
Ashleigh: One of the stigmas about golf that has become a barrier of entry for many families, is the belief that learning the game is expensive. In reality, participating in a junior program like Girls Golf makes access totally realistic. By participating in a group setting, families get the benefit of joining a supportive community that offers access to golf instruction and course access at a far more affordable cost than trying to go it alone. The majority of our programs even offer reduced program fees, scholarships, and golf club “pass along” programs for families who need additional assistance.
Summer: Why do you think it’s important for women to learn how to golf, and to make it available for them to play?
Ashleigh: Golf is not just a sport, it’s also a game that teaches valuable life skills that can hugely impact the future of the golfer. It builds character, enhances independence, teaches humility, helps build social skills and it encourages leadership among young women who play the game. It’s a sport that can be played for many years, regardless of your age or gender.
Playing golf can also greatly affect your presence in the workforce. Even if you get into a field that isn’t golf related field, playing the game can be extremely beneficial in building relationships with business partners or in getting you to the next step in your career.
Summer: Do you think women hold the key to success to keep golf going and to keep it popular?
Ashleigh: Yes, women are a market that has been underutilized within golf, but the LPGA and the Girls Golf Program are working on changing that. We are focusing our efforts on increasing and maintaining the number of Girls Golf programs available to families across the nation. We hope that this will give girls the passion and initiative to keep golfing for many years to come. These girls will grow to become women who will feel welcome and invited to play.
Summer: Women are a great consumer market too. They love to shop, especially for clothes and accessories. It helps that the clothes are pretty cute too.
Ashleigh: Absolutely. The attire for girls to play in has becoming much more appealing. More women may actually want to play golf because the clothes are not only adorable, they are also comfortable to wear. I have female friends who want to try golf now because of the cute clothes you can wear.
Summer: One can say that you may not hit the ball well, but at least you can look good trying to.
Ashleigh: That is true!
Summer: I see that you offer golf scholarships for young women players. Can you tell me a little about them?
Ashleigh: Yes, we offer four scholarships through our LPGA Foundation for young women golfers. Each one offers different application requirements, but are instrumental in assisting women who want to go to school as well as continue their passion for golf.
Dinah Shore Scholarship – This is a $5,000 scholarship that is given to one exemplary high school senior who plays golf, but will not be playing at the collegiate level.
The Marilynn Smith Scholarship – This scholarship awards $5,000 to 20 highly qualified high school seniors who will be playing golf at the collegiate level.
The Phyllis G. Meekins Scholarship – This scholarship recognizes one minority player that will be playing golf at the collegiate level. The chosen recipient will receive $1,250.
Goldie Bateson Scholarship – This is a combined initiative between the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP) of the Mid-West section. This unique scholarship is awarded to juniorgolfers between the ages of 7-17 who show a passion for learning the game. A total of 10 $250 scholarship are awarded to young people who reside in the following states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama.
Summer: My last and final question that I have to ask – do you have to have a certain handicap to work for the LPGA?
Ashleigh: Nope, not at all. All you have to have is a passion for what you do and to be happy doing it.
To learn more about their programs, scholarships or to find a chapter near you, check out the Girls Golf website at: https://www.girlsgolf.org
Special thanks to Ashleigh McLaughlin of the LPGA Foundation who took the time to share her insight into women’s golf and its programs. Also, a special thank you to our website creator, Joanne Bennett, who empowers women to golf by providing women-centered content on this website.
You may also enjoy reading: Why We Should Teach Our Daughters to Golf
(2016, September 17). The Five E’s of Golf. Retrieved from https://www.girlsgolf.org
(2016, September 17). Scholarships. Retrieved from https://www.girlsgolf.org
McLaughlin, A. (2016, September 16). Phone Interview
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