Women in Golf: Empowering Female Golfers Through College Programs
By Bradley Turner, Keiser University College of Golf Director of Online Golf Instruction – MBA, PGA
Over the past few decades, women’s college golf programs have experienced incredible growth, transforming from relatively obscure pursuits to prominent events that are viewed across the country. This remarkable rise can be attributed to various factors, including increased participation at the grassroots level, enhanced scholarship opportunities, and heightened visibility of the sport. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur has been a catalyst for women’s golf, as the majority who play in this prestigious championship are collegiate golfers. College golf for women is no longer for the few but is now played across the globe, with many international women golfers coming to America to play college golf.
The Rise of College Golf Programs
Women’s college golf programs had humble beginnings, with only a few schools offering formal programs. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, women’s college golf was largely a club-level sport with limited resources and recognition. The turning point for women’s athletics in general came with the passage of Title IX in 1972. This legislation mandated equal opportunity for women in education, including sports. Colleges were required to provide women with the same athletic opportunities as men, leading to the creation and expansion of more women’s collegiate sports.
Growth in Participation
One of the most notable trends in women’s college golf has been the exponential growth in participation. As opportunities increased, more young women began taking up golf in high school to earn a college golf scholarship. The rise of talented women golfers continues to grow, resulting in highly competitive tournaments. This new talent contributed to the success of individual college programs and elevated the standards of play in women’s golf. The LPGA is the next step for the elite college golfer, where the skill level continues to amaze golf enthusiasts.
Benefits of College Golf Programs
As women’s golf programs expanded, so did the opportunities for scholarships. Many colleges and universities now offer full and partial scholarships to attract top-tier talent. These scholarships make college more affordable for student-athletes and provide a pathway to pursue their career aspirations after graduation. Colleges have also invested in state-of-the-practice facilities and coaching staff.
The visibility of women’s golf has benefited from increased media coverage, specifically the Golf Channel. Men’s and women’s college golf programs have blossomed with the increased exposure to elite college events. Social media platforms have become powerful tools for student-athletes to share their experiences and achievements. Former college standout Jennifer Kupcho, who played at Wake Forest University, has been a success on the LPGA tour. Rose Zhang played golf at Stanford University and won her first LPGA event after turning professional. Jennifer and Rose were well prepared for playing golf at the highest competitive level.
Challenges in the Future
While women’s athletic programs have come a long way, they still face challenges. One of the most significant challenges is funding. Maintaining competitive programs and providing scholarships to recruit top talent is a major expenditure in college and university budgets. As tuition costs escalate, the pressure to rein in costs is more important than ever for college presidents. Many successful programs rely on alum donations and external sponsorships to fund their teams adequately.
The growth of women’s college golf programs is a testament to the power of opportunity and equal opportunity in sports. College golf for women has come a long way from the humble beginnings of a club team activity. With the continued support by colleges and universities, combined with the talent of young golfers, women’s collegiate golf programs are set to thrive in the years to come.
Want more tips? If you want to take your game to the next level, contact our team at Keiser University’s College of Golf & Sport Management today. With our dedication and experience, together, we can elevate your game to new heights. Give us a call today at 888-355-4465.