Rocking the boat
As part of a four-ball of relative novices, I was asked not to be offended by the decision not to allow us to participate in the upcoming Fairship General Botha Old Boys Bursary Fund fundraising golf day.
Having previously addressed the fact that industry golf days, by their very nature and legacy, tend to remain rather male dominated with the board of the Bursary Fund, this decision came as a bit of a surprise – given that the four ball in question happened to include four women.
We were assured, however, that the marketing efforts for the golf day had reached out to women’s golfing groups and to the ladies belonging to the Rondebosch Golf Club where the event is being hosted.
That they had to find non-maritime women for an industry golf day does not seem to have made a dent in their thinking. According to the correspondence from the Bursary Fund and the manager of the Golf Club – there was not much interest shown despite their efforts to create a more inclusive field via these channels. That the women which were targeted in these marketing endeavours do not want to sign up for a stereotypically male dominated industry golf day also seems to be beyond their understanding of some of these nuances.
As a group of lady novices keen to have some fun at a golf day aimed at raising money for the future maritime generations – a golf day with sponsored holes aimed at making the game less serious, we have been advised to rather not participate lest it destroys our potential longer-term love of the game. In fact, the club manager has already decided we would NOT enjoy ourselves. The capitalisation of the word is her emphasis and not mine. Instead – she has advised us to embark on a more structured approach that includes the expense of coaching, lessons and mentorship.
Personally – the idea of the golf day sounds a hell of a lot more fun as well as a fundamentally better introduction to the game than the latter advice.
Apparently the “suggestion” to prevent us from teeing off is “not intended to exclude anyone and hopefully not discourage the eager and brave souls from ever trying golf”. I do hope that the intention now is to ascertain whether any of the other “souls” signed up for the golf day are novices and exclude them as well.
Yes, we are certainly novices and no we do not own our own clubs, but the correspondence also makes the assumption that none of us have had any exposure to the game – a fact that neither the Bursary Fund nor the manager cared to clarify. Personally, I have been on a driving range; I have played a short round with some experienced golfers, and I have co-organised several industry golf days back in the day.
During these golf days I spent the majority of the day riding around in a golf cart, photographing and engaging with players – followed by assisting with the prize giving and engaging with the score cards.
It was through the organisation of these golf days that my reservations about hosting such events materialised. The number of women from the maritime industry that played over the course of several years could be counted on one hand. Each event turned into a male bonding fest that effectively discouraged inclusivity.
Having been asked to engage with the Bursary Fund previously about how to move their brand into the future and maintain a relevance for the next generation of maritime professionals, I voiced this exact concern, but did suggest that they at very least include a prize for the top lady player. Not even this hit the mark with their organising committee.
I was told that these events remain the easiest and best way to raise money. Yes, raising money for maritime bursaries is certainly important, but what happened to our commitment to make the industry more cognisant of creating an inclusive environment?
Given this lack of inclusivity, I am rather astounded at the nature of the correspondence received to inform us of their decision, which is inherently condescending in its nature – offering us the opportunity to come out on the day and be taken out “briefly” on a golf cart. The email also goes as far as to say: “I trust that this does not offend any of your team and that it will be taken in the positive spirit intended”.
My answer to this is quite simply: yes, it does offend, but us taking offence is almost irrelevant to the broader picture here. A more “positive spirit” could have been engendered had either the board or the club reached out and made suggestions to accommodate us rather than simply telling us to get ourselves together and try again next year.
Perhaps suggesting that we tee off last so as not to impact the field; or to split our four ball into two and look for four more experienced players to join each four ball (more four balls – more money for the fund) could have indicated a rather more positive response.
I dare say that there are many other creative suggestions that could have come to mind had they thought further than protecting “the sport that they both love” with the word no!