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6 min read

Greystone Inspires the Next Generation of Women’s Golf

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It’s no secret that for most of its almost 500-year history, golf has been a male-dominated sport. Since its inception, women have always faced barriers in trying to gain access to the game. Over time, there have been sporadic improvements, but considering how long golf has been a global sport and considering that women still represent less than 3 out of 10 golfers, it’s clear that the wheels of evolution have turned slowly.

A New Paradigm

But the good news is that real change finally appears to be underway. It’s become evident that a new paradigm is taking shape: since 2019, not only has the percentage of female golfers increased significantly, but the overall growth in golf as a whole is actually now being driven by women.

Take, for example, the year 2020. For that year, the National Golf Foundation (NGF) estimated that total golf participation increased by 534,000 golfers over the prior year. But what was surprising was that women accounted for 451,000 of those golfers. In other words, 85% of the new golfers who entered the sport that year were female!

That was obviously a huge achievement for women, and it’s important that we recognize and celebrate it. But the real key is to understand why this growth in female participation happened and to put in place programs and practices so that it can be sustained into the future.

It’s incumbent on the golf industry to ensure that we continue to inspire the next generation of female golfers.

Golf and Country Clubs Can Have a Huge Impact

Among all the other roles that they play, the nation’s golf clubs and country clubs function in many ways as guardians of the future of golf. They are the initial touchpoint to the game for many junior golfers so, consequently, the ways in which they develop and nurture youngsters in this age group can have a major impact on how many of them continue with golf into their teens and how many adopt the game as a lifelong activity.IMG_0016-1

Signs are encouraging for the future of women’s golf. In the year 2020, for example, females accounted for 36% of all beginners, which was a 50% increase over the previous participation rate of 24.4%, and girls now account for over a third of all junior golfers (per the NGF). In fact, girls under 18 are currently the fastest-growing segment of the golfing population. But for this to become a long-term reality rather than just a short-term trend, the industry must continue its focus on increasing junior girls' participation.

One interesting statistic from the NGF should provide motivation for clubs to continue to emphasize programs and activities for these young beginners: in a study they performed, they found that an avid junior golfer who plays 25 or more times a year will most likely play golf their entire life. So, if avid junior girls continue to play as adults, we’ll see a steady increase in women’s participation.

Greystone is Doing Its Part

Liz Mattioli (1)-1Greystone has enthusiastically accepted its responsibility to do its part in helping to shape the future of women’s golf. Greystone LPGA teaching professional Liz Mattioli, who is a Lead Instructor at the Blackburn Golf Academy, has embraced the challenge by being the primary advocate for junior girls at the Club.

Coach Liz, as the girls refer to her, has created and developed a series of programs and events aimed at introducing the game to young girls at the Club, while also connecting them with other girls who want to play. Some of the monthly girl-friendly events that Liz offers highlight her emphasis on making the game fun and inviting for these young golfers:

  • Spring Fever event
  • ‘Galentines event
  • Back to School Bash
  • Give Thanks & Golf
  • Mother-Daughter event for Mother’s Day
  • Daddy-Daughter Short Game Challenge event

She sometimes organizes each of these events to feature different colors and themes, all fun elements that serve to pique the interest of the girls.

Liz_pdev-womens-1And in addition to the one-day events above, Liz offers instructional classes for the girls. She has a class for 5–8 year-olds, another class for 9-13 year-olds, and a summer series of instructional events for the 9-13 age group which includes individual lessons focused on the full swing. For young players who are looking to get even more serious in their development, we even offer a Player Development Membership that gives golfers under the age of 25 access to our championship courses, cutting-edge practice facilities, and golf events so they can build their game to a competitive level–locally, regionally, or even nationally.

Fun, But a Whole Lot More

With children in this age group, it’s essential to make fun a priority in each event. Otherwise, they’ll likely lose interest quickly. And as those who’ve participated in her events will happily tell you, Liz definitely makes fun the key ingredient.

But parents of these participants should be aware that their daughters are benefitting in important ways beyond just having a good time.

Liz structures her events in accordance with the guidelines and mission of the “LPGA*USGA Girls Golf Program.” LPGA*USGA is the only junior golf program for girls ages 6-17 that not only specializes in providing a friendly environment to learn the game, but also in simultaneously teaching the girls valuable life skills like confidence and perseverance.

The LPGA*USGA program was initially launched in 1989 by LPGA Pro Sandy LaBauve at one site in Phoenix, but it has since grown to over 550 sites around the world, with over 100,000 participants annually.

How Does LPGA*USGA Instill Life Skills?

IMG_3481The reason that the LPGA*USGA program is so effective with young girls is because of how it was designed and how it is implemented. The program is built around what they refer to as the “Five E’s,” which pertains to their five key guiding principles that are incorporated into all golf and learning activities: Enriching, Empowering, Engaging, Energizing, and Exercising their students.

Enriching - giving students a deeper understanding of rules, history, and the science behind the game.
Empowering - empowering more girls through the game of golf and inspiring them to dream big.
Engaging - providing girls with positive role models and mentors.
Energizing - energizing girls with passion for the game of golf.
Exercising - exercising both girls’ minds and bodies to unlock their full potential.

Parents can feel confident that, when their daughters participate in one of Coach Liz’s events, they are guaranteed to have a great time, but they will also learn vital life skills that are specific to development for girls, things like developing confidence, finding their own voice, identifying their talents, and inspiring them to live active and healthy lifestyles. Liz Mattioli is making a difference. She and Greystone are on the front line in the effort to inspire the next generation of female golfers who will reshape the sport’s landscape.

Greystone Parents Offer Testimonials

If you really want to get an appreciation for how a program is doing, the best sources for honest and straightforward commentary and feedback are the parents of the girls who have participated. A few Greystone Members and Guests who have had their daughters take part in events run by Liz were happy to offer their insights:

“Greystone Golf & Country Club, and in particular Liz Mattioli, does an excellent job fostering the opportunities for girls to get into the game of golf. Our daughter Courtney always enjoyed the fun and interactive activities centered around golf skills and making friends with other girls in the programs she attended. It was always such a joy to see how many young girls attended and their enthusiasm to be around the game.” -Beth Grace, Greystone Member.

“For Haley, LPGA Girls Golf was more than just learning the game of golf. LPGA Girls Golf taught her determination and perseverance and instilled confidence. Once she aged out of girls golf, she wanted to continue to share her love of golf by becoming a volunteer coach. That’s great! Thank you!” - Isabel Lockhart, Greystone Member.

“The LPGA Girls Golf program at Greystone was a great way for my granddaughter Peyton to be introduced to the game of golf. Coach Liz taught the girls skills in a way that was fun and interesting. It encouraged Peyton to pursue the game further. She is now competing and loves the game of golf.” -Lynne Day, Local Resident (not a Greystone Member).download the golf guide at this link