Golf Course Architecture - Issue 63, January 2021

60 make better architects or writers or broadcasters? Resoundingly no – it is the result of a cyclical system that perpetuates and reinforces the historic lack of inclusion, exposure, and resources available for women to excel in this industry at the same rate as their male colleagues. “Golf tends to be a ref lection of the economic and social times surrounding it. And not unlike modern society at large, it has a disparaging history of excluding and marginalising women from the game. We have never felt entirely welcomed or considered by the institution of golf. Women today still bear the weight of overcoming a long series of inequities which was deliberately designed to create and enforce a gender imbalance to privilege men. We must overcome a vast array of unconscious (and conscious) institutionalised sexism to overcome barriers and constraints imbedded in golf culture.” Fraser continues: “A woman’s experience on the golf course is comprehensive and nuanced and not always ref lected in important management, maintenance or architectural decisions. Overlooking our experience has created a social closure where many women feel unwelcome, undeserving, discouraged, and more likely to drop out of golf, consequently perpetuating the gender participation imbalance that is so detrimental to the sustainability of golf. “People often choose to pursue careers in the golf industry because they have cultivated a love of the game, and that likely evolves from playing. And for a variety of reasons, some listed above, women and girls do not play golf at the same rate as their gender counterparts. Therefore, until we vastly increase the participation rates of women and girls, the professional gender equity will remain imbalanced. If we continue to perpetuate a top-down approach, golf will always be governed by men. We must consider grassroots intervention, and affirmative action to place women in positions to disrupt a system so entrenched as golf. Golf will be better for it.” But if the golf environment has become more welcoming to women in recent years, the business realities of the game have gone the other way. “A period of time that really stood out for golf course architects was the decade prior to the economic disruption that began in 2000,” says Bel Jan. “It was a fantastic era! The opportunity to be engaged in golf course design was possible for those who knew it could be a profession and who then chose to pursue that career. The 1990s was a decade when women were very active in golf course design. If there was a time when everyone could learn that golf course design was a profession and that there were women successfully engaged in it, that was the time to illuminate the golf world and beyond. Bel Jan continues: “Since 2000 far fewer golf courses have been built. With limited projects came limited opportunities to design or redesign golf courses. This meant a loss of talented designers who opted to pursue other work, as well as far fewer opportunities to begin a career in golf course design. Twenty years on, golf course architecture may be recognised and appreciated by experienced golfers, but without exposure to its practitioners, including female golf course architects, men and women are unaware of golf course design as a possible career choice. With more women playing golf at higher skill levels and who want to have golf as a career, but are not good enough to make it on tour, golf course design is an avenue – if they know the profession of golf course architecture exists, if projects exist, and if they are “ Discrimination in golf isn’t going to be broken down by women, it’s going to be broken down by the fathers of daughters who see that their female child doesn’t have the same opportunity as their son” Alice Dye WOMEN IN GOL F DES IGN