More Sask. girls 'dragging mom and dad' to the golf course as interest surges
SASKATOON -- As a sport that allows for physical distancing during the pandemic, more girls in Saskatchewan are taking up golf.
Sarah Henderson, 13 and has been playing for five years and she helps her younger sisters, nine-year-old Rachel and 11-year-old Julia, with their games.
The two younger sisters got into golf more last year and expect to play a lot this year.
Julia looks up to her big sister, but admits it gets a bit competitive sometimes, which drives her to improve.
“I feel like when Sarah has a really good hit and I have a bad hit, I feel like I need to get better and I feel like oh darn it, I’m so behind,” Henderson told CTV News.
This family is not alone either as more golf courses are seeing a surge in the number of girls teeing up.
The executive director of Golf Saskatchewan says the number of people taking up golf in general has gone up since last year in Saskatchewan, but significant increases are seen among women.
Brian Lee said more businesses are using golf for team building or networking, but it’s still the younger category that’s leading the way.
“The junior girls have seen a very big explosion of participation last year. I think it came down to a number of sports basically being stopped in their tracks,” Lee told CTV News.
Lee says there's been an increase in sales of golf clubs and women's golf apparel.
He also says that as more women of all ages take up the sport, there are more social events happening at courses focused on women that are typically more about interaction than competition.
Jeff Chambers runs a golf academy in Swift Current and runs many junior programs and tournaments. He’s excited by the increase in girls developing a love for the sport.
Because it is an individual sport that allows for physical distancing, more people in general are out playing which is a good sign for the future of golf in Saskatchewan.
Chambers says that in the past, many young girls would hit off the tee with their parent, then hop in the cart and shoot later down the fairway, but that has changed.
“It’s not just along for a ride. They’re playing golf and they’re showing that they can play golf and there’s an interest level. All of a sudden they’re the ones dragging mom and dad to the course, where before I believe it was the other way around.”
Girls also now have more time to get out with fewer other activities, he said.
Lee said when their organization started in 1913, 95 per cent were men. Now female players make up at least 30 per cent of their membership, a number he’d like to see rise to 50 per cent.
He’d also like to see enough women playing so it’s feasible for them to have their own provincial tournament.
The Saskatoon Golf and Country Club says it has seen the number of girls in its programs double this year and the number of junior players in general increase significantly.
Brian Lee's paraphrased comments have been clarified. A previous version of this story appeared to indicate he was speaking more generally about women's attitudes in golf, rather than specific examples he was referring to.