Does Golf Need To Change To Address Our Evolving World

Many of golf’s traditions are rooted in historical norms of society. Many older traditionalists cling to ideas rooted in gender biases that just don’t fit the evolving world. Although much has happened to drag our views of golf into the 21st century, there are still some hold out ideals that need to change. The inspiration for my article today is rooted in a CBC news article that outlines a gender disparity regarding the number of holes played during a competition of young men and women of the same age group.

The gist of the article is that middle school provincial competitions limit the number of holes played by the female golfers to 9. The MacDonald sisters asking for change stated: “When they joined the team last year, they say they were shocked to learn  that in provincial school competitions, female golfers play just nine holes, while males play the full 18.”

The decision to limit the number of holes played by the female golfers is rooted in a decision made in 2002, but the exact reason why the decision was made cannot be ascertained. To be fair, I do not think it is important to dissect a 20 year old ruling because it will not really address the disparity presented today.

According to the article, the MacDonald sisters’ concerns and those of other parents were brought up last year and the P.E.I. School Athletic Association is looking into the possibility of a change to the current format. The PEISAA stated that no golfer has challenged the format until two years ago. To date, only discussions are happening and the MacDonald sisters on in a wait and see situation.

The possible change to the competition format in schools is” a discussion the executive director of the P.E.I. Golf Association welcomes. Alison Griffin says there have been great strides to achieve more gender equality in golf, and to get more females involved and competing at a high level.”

I think golf has grown, and we’ve developed some really strong female athletes as well as male athletes here on the Island.- Alison Griffin, P.E.I. Golf Association

“She worries the fact that girls play half as many holes as the boys in Island school competitions sends the wrong message.”

When I first read this article, I have to say that I was a bit surprised at the disparity in the number of holes played by the golfers. In today’s climate about equality and equity for all athletes, I cannot reason why the holes would be limited based on gender. As a proud father of a daughter who played sports growing up, I would be at the front of the line challenging this ruling.

Golf is a universal sport that has evolved to be inclusive. Many initiatives by the governing bodies like Tee if Forward, First Tee, Grass Roots, and Future Links were designed to teach young people the fun of playing golf. No where does it limit any youth activities based on gender. And in my opinion that is exactly the way golf should approach its future.

As an outsider looking in, I support the MacDonald sisters bid to expand their competition to 18 holes. I wish them well in their efforts to make changes and help to continue to evolve the sport they like to play: golf.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


4 thoughts on “Does Golf Need To Change To Address Our Evolving World

  1. Jim, I read the article and agree the girls should be playing 18 along with the boys. I disagree with the two division concept and think it sends the wrong message if the league is competitive. All competitors should play 18. If it’s non-competitive; fine, set up a 9-hole division. But, that’s called inter-murals.



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