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UKGF Keith Pelley Blog – Feb 2022 - Keith Pelley, Chief Executive, European Tour Group
For my first message of this year, I wanted to choose a topic that is close to the heart of the Tour, and one that is front and centre of public discourse at the moment – diversity and inclusion.
I truly believe that golf, at its very core, can be the most inclusive sport in the world. The handicap system is fundamental to this – ensuring that players of any age, gender or ability can compete against each other on a level playing field. If we look back over the centuries, there have been moments where our sport has not covered itself in glory when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
That has changed significantly in recent decades I’m glad to say, but there is still a lot of work to be done. As the European Tour group, we have placed diversity and inclusion as one of our core corporate mission statements. We may be a Tour operated on behalf of male professionals, but our wide brand reach globally means we can play a key role in supporting other stakeholders to elevate their work and jointly champion diversity and inclusion.
A great example is our close partnership with the European Disabled Golfers Association (EDGA). We have started incorporating several of their events into our own DP World Tour tournament weeks, with their season-ending finale taking place the same week, on the same course, as our own season-ending DP World Tour Championship. It has proved a fantastic way of boosting EDGA’s profile and I was delighted to see our partners at Sky Sports dedicating strong airtime to EDGA’s finale – with Irishman Brendan Lawlor taking home the title.
Our work with EDGA is expanding in 2022. We have announced a range of new support measures including launching the newly branded G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour, which will have a minimum of seven events that take place during DP World Tour tournament weeks, at the same venue, to give these golfers the profile they deserve. We are also providing financial support for G4D Tour players with fights and accommodation, increasing media exposure through the Tour’s channels and platforms, and new funding to help EDGA move from a volunteer-based administration to a semi-professional one. The level of golf played on the EDGA Tour is remarkable and shows that physical disability does not have to be a barrier to playing our great game. But in this day and age, it is not right for a golfer to skillfully overcome a disability on the course, whilst still facing unnecessary hurdles in and around a golf facility. When I spoke to UKGF members last year,
I challenged you all to think about whether your facilities were doing enough to make everyone feel welcome and included. I stress that message to you again now. Whether it’s having enough disabled parking bays, wheelchair access within the clubhouse, or a membership that truly reflects the diversity of the local community – it’s important that we make a golf club or driving range feel accessible to all. Professional golf tournaments must also meet that same standard and this is something I am constantly stressing to our Championship Directors.
Of course, inclusivity is a broad term. One other area I am passionate about is breaking down any gender barriers in golf. You may be thinking – what does a men’s professional Tour know about gender diversity? We see our role as helping to further elevate women’s golf by bringing the world’s best men and women together via innovative tournament formats. A good example is our annual tournament, the Volvo Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik and Annika. This has seen, for the first time, men and women on the DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour compete on the same course, for the same prize money, and the same trophy.
We’ve also worked with the LPGA Tour and LET to create the ISPS Handa World Invitational, where two separate tournaments (144 men and 144 women) compete on the same course for two equal prize funds. Again, this is sending an important message that the men’s game and the women’s game are of equal merit. I hope this overview of what we at the European Tour group are doing to boost diversity and inclusion in our sport provides some inspiration as you continue to think about how your own facilities can attract an increasingly diverse customer base.
Making golf more diverse will take time, but it feels like we have the wind at our backs!
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive, European Tour group