The gender equality ‘debate’ too often fails to acknowledge a woman’s reality.
Please, please bear with me, because I’m more tired than anyone of the supply-and-demand argument when it comes to gender equality in golf.
This isn’t a woke millennial take on having every possible demographic equally represented at the highest level. I can’t speak for others and how they feel or are valued; I don’t have that experience. But I have experience of how it can feel to be a female in this world. That’s the point that keeps getting missed. Ultimately, it’s just about respect. That’s all.
Ultimately, it’s just about respect.
If I told you the No.1 player in the world broke a nearly 20-year-old record held by Tiger Woods when she went 114 consecutive holes without a bogey, would you be impressed?
If I told you a rookie had a win, more top-10s and more runner-up finishes than Robert McIntyre last year, would you be able to name her?
If I told you someone gained their first professional victory in 119 attempts, would you be inspired?
If I told you the 2019 leading PGA Tour player in greens in regulation (GIR) averaged 73.06 percent… but 27 LPGA Tour players averaged more, what would you say? Would you tell me the courses are shorter so it’s irrelevant? Would you tell me they probably falsified their data, as one male tour pro insinuated the last time I tweeted about GIR stats?
Have you ever thought about how opportunity creates opportunity, or how success breeds success, or how talent pushes talent? How many elite female golfers do we miss out on because they can’t see their worth or can’t see a role model in the magazine they pick up, because out of almost 200 pictures in a leading publication there isn’t one of a woman? Or they can’t see a role model on the first five pages of the golf section on a national news site because it appears women’s tours don’t exist?
Time after time, through complete silence, we’re told that our abilities and achievements as golfers simply don’t matter to the average golf fan. That they are less important, because they weren’t achieved by a man.
Can you begin to understand how that feels?
And if we dare to point that out, we are told that the interest just isn’t there. That we don’t engage, don’t entertain, aren’t worthy of your time in the way that men are. Why? Because our skills aren’t as great? Really?
Men’s sport dominates primarily because in the beginning and ever since, people with power (…men) chose to invest in it.
Yet as fans of golf, like me, you’re probably impressed by the achievements listed above. The individuals concerned would command your respect, if you knew about them. If you’ve made it this far in my article you probably already do.
I know times are changing – I’m lucky to be in an era where we can even discuss this. And I f**king love getting to do what I do for a living. But it’s 2020 and just look at some of the comments you see on social media when it comes to gender equality in sport.
I’m not demanding you become a fan of women’s golf. Each to their own, genuinely. But everyone needs to recognise that our choice to be a fan is shaped by the way the world works.
Not necessarily by us.
• Meghan MacLaren is an English professional golfer that plays on the Ladies European Tour. MacLaren won eight times as a Florida International University player before graduating with a degree in English and turning professional in 2016. Her two LET wins have both come at the Women’s New South Wales Open.