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22D AGO

She Plays Golf creates pathways for females of all ages into golf

5 Min Read

Beyond the Ropes

Golf Canada’s She Plays Golf initiative was created to bring women and girls of all ages and abilities into the game of golf. (Dave Holland/Golf Canada)

Golf Canada’s She Plays Golf initiative was created to bring women and girls of all ages and abilities into the game of golf. (Dave Holland/Golf Canada)

Golf Canada's initiative creates a welcoming environment and connects female instructors and leaders of the game together



    Written by Helen Ross @Helen_PGATOUR

    There were lots of memorable events during Golf Canada’s first She Plays Golf celebration last year in Calgary.

    The shrieks of excitement when a young girl made contact and saw the golf ball arch into the air for the first time. The high fives and fist pumps when a woman old enough to be her mother sank a long putt. The energy in the room at the leadership luncheon.

    One of Lisa Wilson’s favorite moments, though, came when a participant walked up after She Plays Golf was over and told her how much she had enjoyed herself. She had fallen in love with the game of a lifetime.

    “But you’ve created a real problem for me,” the woman told Wilson, who is the director of Inclusion Programs and Safe Sport for Golf Canada. “My husband has been trying to get me into golf for years. And I loved this. How am I going to tell him he was right all along?”

    So, what if he said, “I told you so,” when she got home? She Plays Golf had another convert.

    The initiative was created to bring women and girls of all ages and abilities into the game. The week-long celebration that began in Calgary last year has expanded to the greater Vancouver and greater Toronto areas in 2024.

    Golf Canada’s She Plays Golf initiative was created to bring women and girls of all ages and abilities into the game of golf. (Dave Holland/Golf Canada)

    Golf Canada’s She Plays Golf initiative was created to bring women and girls of all ages and abilities into the game of golf. (Dave Holland/Golf Canada)

    The centerpiece in each city is a tournament for women professionals and elite amateurs. But there is so much more designed to create a welcoming environment to newcomers to golf as well as connect female instructors and leaders of the game together.

    RBC, the Canadian financial services firm, has gotten involved with She Plays Golf this year as the sponsor of the Women in Leadership networking series. It’s one of many projects the company has partnered with Golf Canada on to grow the game, and together the two have raised over $10 million for charitable causes.

    The primary beneficiary of this week’s RBC Canadian Open is First Tee-Canada and the PGA TOUR event hosted 3,000 of those kids at Hamilton Golf & Country Club in Hamilton, Ontario, on Tuesday and Wednesday. RBC also supports RBC Community Junior Golf, which launched in 2021 and has provided affordable access to the game for more than 20,000 youngsters in equity-deserving communities across Canada.

    She Plays Golf targets another segment of the population trying to find its place in the game.

    “We really wanted to create something, some type of initiative that really made an impact in the participation rates for women and girls in golf,” Wilson said. “And we looked at that and thought, well, there's so many different ways in which we could do that.

    “Certainly, we realized that there was a need at the entry level for women to just feel more comfortable to feel like they're in a safe and welcoming environment. … And then on the high-performance side, we realized that in Canada, we don't have a women's professional tour for our aspiring professionals who hope to achieve success on the LPGA someday.

    “So, we really sat down and looked at all the different entry points, the areas of concern, and really thought, where can we make an impact?”

    Golf Canada started She Plays Golf by focusing on the Glencoe Invitational. The purse was increased to $60,000 and an exemption into the CPKC Women’s Open, which is an official LPGA Tour event, was secured for the champion.


    Golf Canada’s She Plays Golf initiative was created to bring women and girls of all ages and abilities into the game of golf. (Dave Holland/Golf Canada)

    Golf Canada’s She Plays Golf initiative was created to bring women and girls of all ages and abilities into the game of golf. (Dave Holland/Golf Canada)

    Highlights from Golf Canada’s Women in Sport Networking Social at Launchpad Heritage Point in Calgary. (Dave Holland/Golf Canada).

    Highlights from Golf Canada’s Women in Sport Networking Social at Launchpad Heritage Point in Calgary. (Dave Holland/Golf Canada).


    The 54-hole tournament was the anchor for nearly a dozen events that took place in Calgary, targeting female golfers of all ages and abilities. There were multiple clinics to teach women and girls the basics of the game – putting, chipping and full swing -- using female instructors as much as possible. The goal was to keep things positive and fun.

    And at the end of the week there was a nine-hole Scramble event.

    “For many women it was their first time actually playing a hole,” Wilson said. “So, we had volunteers at every tee box to sort of guide them and encourage them and help them with club selection, talk to them a little bit about the rules. We had a lot of fun activities on course as well, and really just tried to help them feel familiar with the actual golf course environment.”

    But She Plays Golf is much more than clinics and hands-on instruction.

    Another activation in partnership with Girls in Sport Alberta stressed the importance of staying active. There was a Women In Golf leadership luncheon that evolved into a workshop-like session to identify some of the challenges and how Golf Canada could offer on-going support. And in conjunction with the Team Canada training camp at the Glencoe Invitational some of its coaches and clinicians shared their career experiences in a professional development session.

    Highlights from Golf Canada’s Women in Sport Networking Social at Launchpad Heritage Point in Calgary.  (Dave Holland/Golf Canada).

    Highlights from Golf Canada’s Women in Sport Networking Social at Launchpad Heritage Point in Calgary. (Dave Holland/Golf Canada).

    Wilson estimated about 350 women participated in the inaugural She Plays Golf activities. Included in their gift bags was information about golf programs for women and girls in the greater Calgary area. A post-event survey also included contact information for the female coaches and instructors who participated in the events.

    “So we tried to create a full pathway for women so it wasn't just a one-and-done because we realized that we can only be there for one week, but we want the women to continue engaging in the sport,” Wilson said.

    The good news? A total of 96 percent of the survey respondents indicated they wanted to stay involved in the game.

    This year, the program has expanded into three Canadian provinces with festivities centered around a trio of enhanced tournaments that will now be linked together into a She Plays Golf Championship Series. The series effectively creates a professional tour for pros with LPGA Tour aspirations and attracts top-level talent from around the globe.

    The top two finishers in the Peloton Glencoe Invitational, GOLFBC Group BC Women’s Open and Ororo PGA Women’s Championship of Canada will qualify for the CPKC Women’s Open that will be played July 23-28 at Earl Grey Golf Club in Calgary. And the top point-getter when the Championship Series is over will earn a spot in the Women’s Open if not otherwise qualified, as well as support from Golf Canada’s Q-school bursary program if they enter the LPGA Q-school in the fall.

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