R&A Reinforces Commitment to Growing Women’s Golf

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, speaks in a press conference at the AIG Women’s Open. Picture by R&A via Getty Images.

Carnoustie, Scotland: Greater investment and support from golf bodies, sponsors, the media and fans is required if women’s golf is to grow and prosper.

Speaking ahead of this week’s AIG Women’s Open where a record prize fund of US$5,.8 million is on offer, senior officials from The R&A outlined their ambitions for positive change.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “We are absolutely committed to elevating the AIG Women’s Open and enhancing its status as one of golf’s premier championships.

“With our partners at AIG, we are taking action to make change happen and sending out a strong signal that more needs to be done by everyone involved to grow women’s golf.

“It needs greater investment and support from golf bodies, sponsors, the media and fans to help us grow the game’s commercial success and generate the income and revenues necessary to make prize fund growth viable and sustainable.

“We have set a new benchmark for prize money in women’s Major championship golf this week and, thanks to AIG, will build on it still further next year. We hope this will inspire other events to follow our lead and help us to take a collective leap forward for the women’s game.”

Phil Anderton, The R&A’s Chief Development Officer, acknowledged that much work is still to be done to attract more girls and women into the game.

“Golf historically has under-performed when it comes to women and girls, for a whole bunch of reasons. I think the sport and The R&A has made good progress but there is a hell of a lot more to do,” Anderton was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

He added: “We want more people playing more frequently, but we want the participants to reflect society.

“I think golf in general fell previously into the trap of talking to itself. Golf talked to golf. If you didn’t play it, you didn’t know anything about it.

“I think it also fell into the trap of just putting on programmes; ‘come here and learn about golf’. If you have a perception barrier and people don’t think it is a sport or a brand for them, you can put on every course and build every structure you want but it will be incredibly difficult. Women and girls have to see this as a sport for them, promoted to them.

“Martin was very clear that The R&A had in the early part of his tenure focused on building up the commercial income. He and the team have done a brilliant job there. Why did we need to do that? Because we need the money to invest back into developing the sport.

“Martin made it very clear to me that to meet the long-term purpose of the organisation, to see the sport flourish in 50 years’ time, there is no point making money, having great governance and great championships if nobody is playing golf.” 

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