Walton Heath Golf Club, venue for the 2023 AIG Women’s Open, hosted the first Women In Golf Summit on March 31, with the gathering bringing together women from across the UK golf industry with four keynote speakers.
The summit, which was set up by Walton Heath Golf Club Chief Executive Officer Alex Woodward, was hailed a great success by more than 75 women who attended.
Woodward said: “While the overall number of women in the golf industry is still too low, the number of leaders in our industry who just happen to be women is very healthy. This summit served to highlight these leaders, network and showcase them formally to as many more women as possible with the goal of facilitating a bigger wave of involvement in the future.”
In attendance were women from club management, event management, player management, TV & broadcasting, golf architecture, agronomy, greenkeeping, sales & marketing, sustainability, county governing bodies, national governing bodies, international governing bodies, golf tourism, golf professionals, golf fashion, golf club manufacturing, golf nutrition, insight collection, journalism, charities, professional tours and more.
Zoe Ridgway, R&A Championship Director of the AIG Women’s Open, was one of the summit’s keynote speakers. With a career spanning 20 years, Zoe shared stories about her time working in the golf industry, highlighting the importance of women progressing into senior leadership positions.
The audience also heard from Vicky Cuming, Vice-President and Head of Golf Clients at IMG EMEA; Sky Sports Golf presenter Inci Mehmet, and Nicole Wheatley, founder of marketing and public relations company Medi8 Golf, with the entire proceedings presented and hosted by The Jazzy Golfer.
Ridgway said: “Walton Heath’s Women in Golf Summit was an excellent opportunity for women working across the golf industry to come together. It really highlighted what opportunities are possible within golf and I hope that it inspired those in attendance to continue to aspire towards long and successful careers.”
Vicky Cuming, who has guided the careers of Dame Laura Davies and two-time European Solheim Cup Captain Catriona Matthew, along with current standouts Georgia Hall and Charley Hull, shared some of her experiences from managing professional golfers. Vicky said afterwards: “The energy in the room was fantastic. Although there is a gradually increasing number of women working in the golf industry, we need to focus on attracting more, and then enable them to climb the ladder to become leaders. Everyone was keen to contribute and talk about how we keep the momentum going and how to set up a support network for women who work in the golf industry. Watch this space!”
Sky Sports personality Inci Mehmet was impressed by the initiative of Walton Heath Golf Club gathering such a talented group of women from the golf industry. She said: “I was honoured to share my story with the room, but even prouder looking up knowing I was standing alongside other incredible female leaders and experts in their field”.
Nicole Wheatley who co-founded Medi8 and launched last year’s Women in Golf Awards shared: “Visibility has always been an important building block in the combined efforts to encourage more women to embark on careers in golf. Being given the platform by Alex and the team at Walton Heath is a real honour. I hope that I have been able to inspire one or two more people to embrace their differences because golf needs to reflect more diverse opinions in order to meet the needs of the communities it serves.”
The Women in Golf Summit is one of a number of initiatives Walton Heath Golf Club is delivering ahead of the AIG Women’s Open. The club has become the host club for the AIG Women’s Corporate Academy, and it has also instigated a formal invitation program to involve more professional female greenkeepers to help deliver the course during the AIG Women’s Open in conjunction with The R&A and BIGGA.