The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, May 30, 2019
Gay pride month — Interview with PGA's Senior Director of Content Strategy — Must-click links in women's golf
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Gay Pride Month and golf
One step forward, two steps back. For some reason, I feel like I say this to myself at least once a week when it comes to how female athletes are treated. On the one hand – the USGA announced the purse for the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open and it’s amazing. It is the biggest purse of all the women’s majors and over time, I’m certain will grow even bigger. These sort of things almost automatically challenge the other majors to step up. When the bar is that high, only good things can happen.
On the other hand, you may have seen the comments from Hank Haney, Tiger Woods’ former swing coach, about players on the LPGA. I made this the Tweet of the Week because I think when you make horrible comments, you should be exposed and called out for them. Not to stir the pot, just to let you all know that there is still so much work to be done when it comes to equality and treating women right. It was awful for a lot of reasons, but it was definitely racist and definitely undermining every other player on the LPGA. So, yeah, shame on him.
I lead with all of this because it boils down to one theme: treating people right. If we treated every person we have crossed paths with the right way, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or beliefs, the world would be a much better place. I realize that there are very good people in the world and also very bad people. But why is it so hard to just be respectful? You don’t have to agree, but you can still be respectful. Mr. Haney doesn’t have to be a huge fan or advocate of women’s golf, but he can certainly be respectful of them and their livelihoods. These women don’t work any less hard than every other professional athlete.
That’s why Gay Pride Month is important, especially for those of us who work in golf. Because the fact of the matter is that we are surrounded by a lot of closed-minded people (and we all are, really, in some capacity). But we don’t always treat everyone the right way in golf because historically, the demographics of the average golfer are so homogeneous. The people we see playing golf and watching golf and commentating on golf — many of them look the same. When it’s been this way for so long, here is the reality: difference becomes a hard thing to be okay with. Difference becomes uncomfortable. Difference is resisted.
Difference can be as simple as what we wear to a golf course, to how much income we make, to much deeper issues. Where many miss the mark, like Hank Haney, is failing to appreciate difference and understanding it is what makes our world, and sport, so great. Difference is what sets us all apart. What fun what it be if we were all the same? I find working in the golf industry so rewarding, although very frustrating at times, for this reason. Because as a woman alone, I have the chance to be different and show people a side of golf they don’t always see.
The month of a June is a really important month for the PGA and probably many other organizations, teams and people. To my knowledge, we’ve never publicly done anything before to celebrate and invite these people into our world; to let them know that we stand with them. Sadly, I know we’ll get some negative backlash from said closed-minded folks. But living in our comfort zone is no way to live and no way to do business. I’m excited for steps like this that are being made. Be sure to check out this week’s interview as she can offer some really awesome insight into what the PGA is doing this month and why it is immensely important.
This Week in Women’s Golf
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It’s a Major week! The U.S. Women’s Open tees it up at Country Club of Charleston.
A lot of chatter surrounding the purse at the U.S. Women’s Open. It’s a big one.
The USGA solidifies the largest purse among all major championships.
Awesome stat of the week: in 12 LPGA events, there have been 11 different winners.
Bronte Law is Britain’s leading hope.
Hank Haney is a loser and made this horrible comment about LPGA players.
Hank Haney apologized for his comments after Michelle Wie put him on blast.
Lexi Thompson is ready for the summer stretch.
Here are some story lines to look out for during the U.S. Women’s Open.
These two college stars are making their pro debut at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Lexi Thompson is gaining perspective from wounded warriors.
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Molly Gallatin
Molly Gallatin is the Senior Director of Content and Brand Strategy at the PGA of America. She was formerly with the Minnesota Twins and before coming to the PGA, spent time at the LPGA as Senior Manager of Publicity and Media Services. She has played an integral role in planning the PGA’s strategies surrounding Gay Pride Month for the month of June, so I caught up with her to talk about some of the things that go into making golf a more inclusive sport.
What is your role at the PGA of America?
I’m the Senior Director, Brand and Content Strategy which means I touch a lot of different areas within the association. My team works on both our consumer and member facing products while refining our messaging and brand within those platforms.
Why is celebrating gay pride month important in the golf industry specifically?
Golf has long been seen as a sport that is rooted in tradition and an industry that is fearful of change. But, that is changing and the opportunity that presents is why I wanted to be a part of it. For so long the people who were in the game looked the same, grew up the same, had the same ideas and as a result you saw a narrow view what their audience truly is, especially their future audience. As golf continues to grow and evolve, it’s so important to acknowledge there are many people the industry has not targeted for far too long. As an industry we need to get a little closer to what the world currently looks like and no longer unintentionally isolate certain groups and individuals. That’s why celebrating the LGBTQ community is an important step in the right direction for the golf industry.
What is the PGA doing to celebrate gay pride month?
We are telling inspirational stories of inclusion within the LGBTQ+ community in an effort to engage with the community and create a more welcoming environment for new or potential new players into the world of golf. These stories can be found on our social and digital channels. When it comes to pride month, visibility matters and our goal is to use the PGA platform to create a little more visibility and acceptance in the game.
What can we be doing to welcome more people in the LGBTQ community into golf?
One of the first projects I worked on at the PGA was a language audit. We looked at the ways that we unintentionally offended people and isolated ourselves from the world and really studied what the world looked and acted like today. It was apparent after completing the study that the golf industry had some catching up to do if we wanted to continue to grow and attract new players to the game.
Thankfully I work with some progressive thinkers, who are open to change, so we’ve worked together to find ways to educate our staff and our nearly 29,000 PGA Professionals across the country on how they can engage new communities and make people feel welcome and safe to be their authentic selves at their golf club.
It basically comes down to understanding your audience and knowing that sometimes very subtle changes in the way you speak or the way you welcome people into a golf club makes a huge difference. Golf is full of confusing rules and etiquette as it is, so small changes go a long way. For example, don’t assume someone is married to someone of the opposite sex and ask about a husband or wife and instead use the word spouse in place of husband and wife.
What are some of your long-term goals to make golf more inclusive than it is today?
We certainly have a ways to go before we make golf look similar to the world as it is today. Having said that, the leaders within the industry has taken some big steps over the years to educate themselves on this topic and I think you’ll see a stronger effort to include a larger group of people in the game. As an industry we’ve been able to get by speaking to ourselves for far too long but as many of our current players and coaches get older, we need to find ways to reach the younger audiences and make playing the game more appealing to everyone. That means changing the rules of how and where you play. Golf doesn’t have to be 18 holes anymore and maybe your golf experience is visiting a Topgolf or playing the 3-hole practice course at a club near your house.
Visibility and language matter. If we can change the way we speak and tell stories of acceptance, experiences and what makes this game great then new audiences can see golf as a great option for them. We need to show people that golf wants them to be a part of it.