Driving Diversity: England Golf’s Push for Inclusivity and Access

England Golf, under Julia Regis’s leadership, is making strides towards inclusivity in golf. Learn about initiatives like ‘Respect in Golf’ and steps taken to foster a more welcoming environment for all golf enthusiasts.

Golf Continues Quest for Inclusivity and Accessibility, Says England Golf Director

Golf has made significant strides in promoting inclusivity and improving accessibility to the sport, but there is still progress to be made, according to Julia Regis, senior independent director at England Golf, the national governing body for amateur golf.

Regis, who was introduced to the game by her late husband Cyrille, a former professional footballer, recounts the challenges they faced when trying to join a golf club. “We didn’t find joining a club particularly straightforward, because we kept encountering the reputation of golf ‘oh no, they won’t let you in there’ and ‘maybe you need to look somewhere else’,” Regis said.

However, Regis and her husband were eventually welcomed at Edgbaston Golf Club, where she remains a member. Yet, Regis notes that there is still a legacy of exclusivity in some clubs, and she is often the only woman of African-Caribbean descent at her club, despite Birmingham being one of the most diverse cities in England.

To address these issues, England Golf has launched initiatives like the “Respect in Golf” movement, which aims to create greater understanding and embracement of equality, diversity, and inclusion within the sport. The organization’s “Your Voice Matters” campaign also encourages players to report any incidents of discrimination they have experienced or witnessed.

Regis emphasizes the importance of creating a culture where people feel comfortable reporting incidents and are confident that they will be listened to and supported. “We need to create a culture whereby people feel that they can report whatever incident they have accounted and that they will also be listened to and get the support,” she said.

More than 50 counties and 650 clubs have already completed the process to attain the “Respect in Golf” status, with an additional 755 clubs actively working towards becoming part of the movement. Regis also highlights the efforts of Walmley Golf Club, which recently launched an all-weather short game area to improve accessibility for golfers with disabilities.

“We are connecting with the clubs that want to do the work, supporting them, signposting, providing the infrastructure, the support that they need if they genuinely want to do the work to be more accessible and be more welcoming to everyone,” Regis said.

The golf industry’s commitment to fostering a more inclusive and accessible sport is evident, but Regis acknowledges that there is still more work to be done to create a truly welcoming and equitable environment for all.

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