As more people purchase a second home abroad, so golf has become ever more popular, both at home and abroad. According to last summer’s research by KPMG, 76% of the UK’s 1.2 million golf club members are adult males, and just 14% females – way below the European average of 22% female.
Germany and Austria take the lead with 35% of its golfers being female, followed by Switzerland (33%), the Netherlands (32%) and Belgium (31%). Only Bulgaria, Greece and Latvia have a smaller percentage of female golf club members than the UK.
2013 could have proved to be a pivotal year for ladies’ golf in the UK. For the first time in the tournament’s history, August’s Solheim Cup was won by a European team on American soil with a trio of Brits playing a key role. Britain’s newest course, Centurion Club, is keen to foster the resultant upswing in women’s interest in the sport.
“It was great to watch Europe’s ladies take the Solheim Cup by the largest margin to date, eight points, and see rookie sensation, Charley Hull from Kettering, become the youngest-ever competitor in the field aged just 17,” says Scott Evans, co-owner of Hertfordshire’s 18-hole Centurion Club.
“This victory had the ‘Olympic-effect’ equivalent on ladies’ golf with many newcomers inspired by the likes of Charley. At Centurion Club our relaxed lifestyle environment embraces the whole family and membership is open to everyone, male or female. Whether they’re in the Clubhouse or on the golf course, women are very welcome here – on equal footing with their male counterparts.”
Dana Garmany, Chairman of Troon Golf LLC, the management company assisting Centurion Club, echoes Scott’s sentiments. “We applaud the efforts of Centurion Club to step into the forefront and take action on welcoming women and families to the golf course. Creating authentic and inclusive environments that make everyone feel at home is an extremely important initiative for the game and Centurion Club is making great strides to accomplish this.”
A recent study, Growing Golf in the UK, released in October last year, also advocates Centurion Club’s all-inclusive ethos. The survey discovered that lady golfers preferred to participate with family and friends and also played a key role in introducing children to the game. It also revealed that the number of people playing golf in the UK could be doubled if clubs and courses were friendlier and more family-orientated. Centurion Club has set out to be exactly that.
Continues Scott. “The Open Championship continues to be held at male-only venues in the UK for example, whereas in Europe, where the game is so much younger, there’s no such thing as segregation between sexes and women and children are actively encouraged to play. In fact, Germany now has more lady golf club members than the UK – 222,191 versus 180,331 – despite having less than a quarter of the number of courses.”
Set in picturesque Hertfordshire countryside, the Simon Gidman-designed course is varied and challenging featuring some 80 bunkers, four major water features and undulating greens. Centurion Club’s catchment area not only encompasses the local community and bordering counties of Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Essex, but also Greater London by virtue of high speed rail link from St Alban’s to London St Pancras in just 19 minutes. Various types of membership are on offer – Senate, Centurion, Corporate/Business and International.