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Drive to increase women in golf: England Golf sign Women in Sport declaration

In a significant stride towards gender equity in sport, England Golf has become the first UK golf body to sign the Brighton plus Helsinki Declaration (Declaration)[1]. This commitment marks a pivotal moment in the history of women’s golf.

The Declaration

Developed and established by the International Working Group (IWG) at the first International Conference on Women and Sport, held in Brighton from 5 – 8 May 1994[2], the Declaration is an international treaty that has become a road map to support the ongoing development of a more fair and equitable system of sport and physical activity. 

The “Brighton Declaration”, as it was originally known, provided 10 principles to guide actions intended to increase the involvement of women in sport at all levels and in all functions and roles. In 2014, on the 20th anniversary of its original establishment, the Brighton Declaration was updated by the IWG to become the “Brighton plus Helsinki Declaration”, to better reflect a changed landscape, including major developments in international policy, while still holding true to its founding 10 principles.[3] 

The Declaration intends to complement all sporting, local, national, and international charters, laws, codes, and regulations relating to equity in sport and physical activity, whilst simultaneously setting a higher benchmark in respect of the inclusion of women and girls. Today, the Declaration has been signed by circa 600 global organisations, including the British Olympic Association, English Sports Council and, more recently, England Golf. 

England Golf

England Golf is the governing body for amateur golf in England, representing over 1,900 golf clubs with more than 740,000 members. 

As part of the continuing drive to increase participation in women’s golf, particularly at grassroots level, England Golf has introduced initiatives such as ‘Women on Par’ and ‘Girls Golf Rocks’, which encourage girls aged 5 – 18 to learn and play golf in a fun and friendly way[4].

In February 2024, England Golf took a further step and joined the circa 600 organisations worldwide in signing the Declaration. By doing so, it pledged to promote and protect the interests of women and girls in golf. In particular, England Golf pledged to encourage more courses across the nation to offer female-friendly facilities and policies. This commitment is not just symbolic, it is a promise to take tangible steps towards creating a more inclusive and equitable sporting environment. 

Considering this, England Golf’s Lead Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Michelle McGill, commented: “For us, signing the declaration is about sending a message that, as a sport, we are committed to ensuring that golf is equitable and safe for women and girls who not only currently play golf but also those who would like to play”.

CEO of England Golf, Jeremy Tomlinson, described the signing as a “truly momentous occasion”. Tomlinson added: “To become a signatory to the declaration is declaring our England Golf belief and commitment to inspire a culture that enables and values the full involvement of women in every aspect of sport and physical activity… having launched our ‘Respect in Golf’ movement last year, we reaffirm our focus on encouraging the participation of everyone and anyone in golf. Our passion and dedication to promoting golf as an all-inclusive sport is unwavering, as is supporting women and girls’ participation in every way possible”.[5]

The rise of women’s golf

The commitment made by England Golf follows several strides made, both in the UK and internationally, to increase female participation in golf. 

With greater visibility, increased sponsorship, expanded seasons, and the biggest prize purses on record, professional women’s golf is on the rise. Northern Irish pro-golfer, Stephanie Meadow, who is supported by Investec, believes that the groundswell of support for women in sport has driven an influx of sponsorship and consequent rise in women’s golf. Meadow commented: “Companies are starting to see the value in supporting women’s golf as well as the men’s game. It is great to see these brands joining companies like Investec, which has been ahead of the curve in supporting women in sport”.[6]

A similar boom can be seen in recreational women’s golf. The number of women taking to golf courses around the UK more than tripled during the Covid-19 pandemic, with nearly 1.5 million women playing at least one full round of golf that year. 

Greater interest in the sport among women has subsequently been spurred by social media. Professional golfers and golf influencers, such as Tisha Alyn (who has 441,000 followers on Instagram, and 1.3 million on TikTok), and celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian, have generated a buzz about golf online, especially amongst millennials and Gen Z.[7]

The rise of different golf formats and entertainment venues (such as TopGolf) has further contributed to the increased uptake. Such venues provide a fun, socially focused and less-intimidating atmosphere to get comfortable hitting a golf ball. Whilst that extends to everyone, it’s notable that females account for just under half of those who play off-course forms of the game.[8]

Headway is also being made at grassroots level, with a growing number of junior development programmes and initiatives being created with a female focus. 

Looking to the future

The rise of women’s golf comes as a welcome change in the historically male-dominated, multi-million-pound industry. Coupled with the recent commitments made by England Golf, the rise presents a positive step towards a future where women’s golf is thriving. This is a trend that is likely to continue as more initiatives are taken to promote participation of women in sport.



[1] Women’s sports participation in the UK - statistics & facts | Statista

[2] The Brighton Conference - Sports Council - National Government and Sport - Women and Sport UK - The Anita White Collection - Archives Hub (

[3] Brighton Declaration | IWGIWG (

[4] Drive to increase women in golf remains in full swing | The Independent

[5] England Golf becomes first UK golf body to sign women in sport declaration

[6] The indomitable rise of women’s golf (

[7] Women are driving golf’s growth since the pandemic - The Washington Post

[8] The Pandemic Surge … More Female Than Male | National Golf Foundation (


women in sport, sport, golf, womens golf, sport declaration, gender equity