Richmond (Yorks) Golf Club, situated in the historic town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, was founded in 1892 and golf has been played on the current site since 1904.
The club prides itself on two things; being one of the top 50 value for money courses in the UK as well as having a rapidly growing ladiesā golf category.
It was the second in Yorkshire to sign up to the R&Asā Women in Golf Charter in 2020, helping increase the number of women and girls participating in golf.
The success of the female category is down to, in no small part, Barbara Gregory a member of the Board of Directors and a past Lady Captain.
Barbara has seen first-hand a seismic shift in the attitude of the game loved by all members ā especially the women's section.
Whilst the Women in Golf charter has made an impact, courses reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic allowed Barbara to re-engage ladies with the game.
āAt the end of August 2020, we saw the game surge in popularity and as it was one of the few sports that people could enjoy, we wanted to make the game accessible for everyone," said Barbara.
"My passion is getting more women into golf so we began offering academy memberships targeting women.
"The membership gave ladies who might not have played the game before access to the academy course. It was easy to get existing members to mentor some of the new players. In my experience, golf can be a hard game to get into, when you factor in all the equipment and fees. I wanted to change that.ā
Barbara and her team of volunteers have worked hard to keep the costs of getting into the game relatively low. All the ladies have offered up equipment, donating golf bags, clubs and shoes to new starters. This has helped build a fantastic camaraderie amongst all the ladies, irrespective of age, everyone has helped welcome new players.
Barbara glows as she talks about her ladies in the club, āwhen you're starting in golf, you're going to lose a lot of golf balls, it's as simple as that. In the ladies changing room, we have a bucket of balls for anyone to dip their hand into if you're short before heading out. Something this simple has helped build a fantastic spirit."
As a Director, Barbara has also focused her efforts on creating partnerships amongst the ladies in the club. From running a newsletter in the height of lockdown (which Barbara confesses was an ode to her animals more than a golf update) she's now the admin of a WhatsApp group that finds golfing partners for the various ladies looking for a game during the week.
The womenās game at Richmond (Yorks) Golf Club is in good health and Barbara says it is down to offering a wide range of membership options. The club introduced PlayMoreGolf as a way for players to access the course all year round for a relatively low cost. āFor the ladies, it was a great opportunity to āupgradeā from the academy course to the full eighteen-hole course.ā
The further good news for the club is how members are stepping up between categories. Richmond started with 30 academy members in August 2020 and 50% have upgraded to PlayMoreGolf with a number progressing on to āfullā seven-day memberships.
This mirrors the recent findings from PlayMoreGolf, with almost half of PlayMoreGolf members that did not renew went on to upgrade to a golf club 5-day or 7-day membership category. The opportunity for clubs, therefore, is to offer members several options. For Richmond (Yorks) , continued success, for both menās and womenās categories in 2022 relies welcoming a mix of ātraditional membersā and new, flexible categories.