For the first time ever, the IGA’s premier women’s event — the State Amateur — will be played on the weekend this summer. It’s a scheduling change I’ve wanted for years.
I joined the IGA’s Board of Directors with the mission of improving opportunities for women golfers. I’ve always worked full time, and when I started golfing twenty years ago (in my 20s), women’s leagues were in the mornings. Men’s leagues were played in the evenings. Women’s tournaments were played on weekdays. Men’s were played on weekends.
Twenty years later, I’m thrill to see the women’s tournament and league schedules accommodate the working class.
The Idaho Women’s State Amateur has been played on weekdays or on Thursday through Saturday. This year, the three-day event is Friday through Sunday, just like the men’s has always been, opening the door for more working women.
The general belief — back in the ol’ days — was that women didn’t work outside the home, therefore it was OK to schedule women’s competitive tournaments during the week.
Another belief — harbored by male golf course managers — was women’s competitions didn’t bring in as much revenue, so they should be played during the the week.
But as Bob Dylan would say: “The times they are a changin’.”
Women work. And women spend money.
Most of the credit for the switch to weekend tournament play goes to the IGA’s executive director Genger Fahleson and Banbury Golf Course for hosting this year’s Idaho Women’s State Amateur on July 11-13.
The IGA is now able to attract middle age women golfers, who played high school and college golf, back into competitive golf.
A perfect example is Ellie Brown. She is one of Idaho’s best female golfers and we haven’t seen her in competitive tournaments much over the last few years. She was a high school standout and then a college golf star for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. She returned to Idaho and settled into a fulltime career. She hasn’t played in the State Amateur since her return to Idaho but told me if it’s on the weekend, she’ll play. It’s a consistent message with my working-women golf friends.
In another move to get more middle-age women golfers into the Idaho Women’s State Amateur, the IGA added a “Classic” event. The Classic is for those who want to be a part of the State Amateur but can’t compete with the long-hitting teenagers. The Classic will be played over a shorter distance and have it’s own winner. Competitors can choose which event they want to play in.
We’re hoping to have a record year in women’s competitive IGA golf. We had 151 entries in champion events in 2010. The entries increased to 167 in 2013. This year, I’m expecting that number to double because:
• The Idaho Women’s State Amateur is on the weekend;
• The Classic event has been added to the State Amateur;
• And, the State Four-Ball and Mid-Amateur women’s events are in the Treasure Valley where more than half of all IGA women players reside. (The Treasure Valley had 2,134 women IGA members last year while the rest of the state accounted for 1,742.)
The IGA is making decisions that promote women’s golf. It’s a great time to join if you’re a working stiff like me.
Jennifer Swindell is a professional writer and member of the Idaho Golf Association’s board of directors. She has a 10 handicap.