“More women in golf is key to creating a lasting legacy”
2018 has been a great year for Goodall. Rachael has featured in her first Major, won the Allerum Open and automatically qualified for the 2019 South African Sunshine Tour. Who better then, to share her experience of stepping up to professional game and why the opportunity for brands lies within supporting the women’s game.
“When I was about four years old I used to go watch my dad at the driving range,” said Rachel. “I asked if I could start playing too and my career kicked off from there. As an athlete, it’s all about driving the women’s game forward.”
There’s a current shift in focus for golf to make itself more appealing to a wider audience. One demographic that is key to the sport moving forward is women as only 15% of golf club memberships are made up of female golfers. In addition, 55% of golf clubs have reported a decrease in female memberships and there has been a 38% decrease in golf club memberships for junior girls.
Is there an impetus on brands to help women’s golf push on as a sport, with personable brand ambassadors at the forefront of the British game?
“I think women are more approachable than men,” said Goodall. “We give a lot more time to the spectators because we really appreciate anyone who comes and we have more time for them. The men get thousands of people watching but women’s golf fans get much more face-time.”
“As an athlete, it’s all about driving
the women’s game forward.”
Alongside stressing the value for money women bring through interaction at live events, Goodall acknowledged the breaking down of traditional barriers at club-level to make golf more inclusive from the inside out.
“Relaxing the strict dress-code a bit at private golf clubs would help attract more women,” she said.
“Young girls don’t want to have to dress in something they’re not comfortable in. In America, girls can wear whatever they want and they’ve got lots of young girls playing. Memberships for golf clubs are also very expensive so if they could find a junior system that would let young players play more affordably that would really encourage new players.”
Goodall’s transition from amateur to professional golf was a leap into the unknown, from within a close-knit team to outside of all national-side support.
“I used to play for England, but once you turn professional England Golf let you do your own thing. It was tough adjusting to travelling to different countries every week, meeting new people, having to organise your own accommodation, transport, flights.”
“If you’re playing in America it’s a lot easier to find sponsorship, lots of brands say we support golfers on the LPGA Tour but if you’re not on there the options are limited. Men get the majority of TV coverage and the most responses I get from brands are that there’s not enough coverage on TV, so they only support women on the LPGA.”
Goodall looked to build a personal brand independently, focussing on her performance to qualify for elite, televised tours.
“I play the Sunshine Ladies Tour throughout the winter in South Africa which is showcased on the TV every week. There’s also the opportunity coming up for me to get my full LET card, an exciting prospect.”
Women’s golf is slowly getting more and more air time in European countries. Sky Sports broadcasts the Solheim Cup, the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup Tournament, aligning the game with one of men’s most popular tournaments. It’s an example to be followed says Goodall.
“If they could find a junior system that would
let young players play more affordably
that would really encourage new players.”
“Tommy Fleetwood and I share the same coach so I was rooting for him from the start. Hopefully one day the Solheim Cup will become what the Ryder Cup is today. Sky Sports is leading the way there by supporting both, perhaps there could be more promotion prior to the women’s tournament now.”
“For boosting participation, short-hole formats are a great idea, especially for people just starting golf. 18 hole games take about four or five hours, it’s a big commitment. More women in the game is key to creating a legacy.”
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