Sask. female golfers want young girls to know they have a place in the sport

·4 min read
Kimberly Brown (left) and Kathy Ziglo (right) want young girls to know they have a place in golf and can learn self-esteem, among other skills.  (Submitted by Kathy Ziglo - image credit)
Kimberly Brown (left) and Kathy Ziglo (right) want young girls to know they have a place in golf and can learn self-esteem, among other skills. (Submitted by Kathy Ziglo - image credit)

When Kathy Ziglo started golfing as a young girl, she wasn't able to use the bathroom in the course clubhouse because women weren't allowed in. Instead, the eight-year-old had to go to the back shop.

While overt sexism like that isn't as prevalent these days, some is still ingrained in the sport, Ziglo said.

Now the Saskatoon golfer and other females in the sport are working to combat stereotypes and sexism, and are seeing more young girls take it up during the pandemic.

Ziglo said sexism in golf started with its creation as a sport for "gentleman."

"When you look around at everything from tee times to some people not wanting to play with the women, stereotypes of women not being very good, stereotypes of women being slow," Ziglo said. "I'm 47. It's still prevalent right now, just as it was when I was eight years old."

Kimberly Brown is a golfer in Saskatoon. She said she's faced the stereotype that women aren't competitive and shouldn't compete against boys.

"I've been playing since I was a girl, so it's been about 25 years. And some of the really overt kind of sexism probably would have been when I was younger."

As a teenager, Brown wanted to play in a tournament, but was told she couldn't play with the boys because she may beat them, she said.

Kimberly Brown is originally from Prince Albert and now lives in Saskatoon.
Kimberly Brown is originally from Prince Albert and now lives in Saskatoon. (Submitted by Kimberly Brown)

Brown said it has now shifted from overt sexism to underlying biases.

"Comments that people would make, 'Oh, you're good for a girl.' I'm not really sure what that was supposed to mean," Brown said. "We still need to be careful not to perpetuate stereotypes and put us into categories that may not be true."

Ziglo and Brown wrote Golf Saskatchewan after hearing comments attributed to its executive director in a CTV story. The two also called out the Golf Saskatchewan on social media.

Brian Lee, the executive director of Golf Saskatchewan, was paraphrased by the CTV reporter as saying there are more accessories and social events on courses with more women, because women play for the social aspect rather than the competition.

Golf Saskatchewan said in a statement to CBC News that Lee was misquoted.

"The words were not spoken by Brian or our organization. The words were of the reporter who wrote the story," the statement said.

It said Golf Saskatchewan would not be commenting further. On May 21, CTV issued a correction on the story and instead paraphrased Lee's comments, saying sales of women's apparel had increased and "there are more social events happening at courses focused on women that are typically more about interaction than competition."

Kathy Ziglo said she was recently amazed at how many young girls she saw playing golf.
Kathy Ziglo said she was recently amazed at how many young girls she saw playing golf. (Submitted by Kathy Ziglo)

Ziglo said there should be consistent messaging from all courses, clubs and governing bodies supporting young girls in golf. She said it's up to current golfers to make the future better for young girls.

"I always think it's helpful if you flipped the situation and you can see that if this discussion was about boys or about men in golf, that if you're talking about them in this way, it would seem ridiculous," Brown said.

Both Brown and Ziglo are hopeful for the future.

"We're sitting out on the deck two Fridays ago and there were 10 girls under the age of probably 11 putting and giggling and running to the snack shack. And we all just looked at each other and said, 'Oh, my goodness.' Like we have never felt so positive about female golf," Ziglo said.

Brown said people play for different reasons and she wants to send a message to all young girls that it's OK to play to be competitive, or not.

"We teach physical activity, commitment, self-esteem, goal setting. There's all kinds of great things," Brown said. "No matter what their motivation is for playing the game, they have a place with the game of golf."

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