This is a story about conversations, some of which are not comfortable, although Chyloe Kurdas, senior manager of women employed by women, says: "They are only as uncomfortable as we want to make them."
It's about gender equality in golf and ultimately it's about human rights. It is not, as Kurdas says, about sport as such, although Hannah Green & # 39; s triumph in a major in Minnesota last weekend is the key.
Over the past six months, Kurdas and other Golf Australia employees have carried a path across the country with road shows around the Vision 2025 strategy for women and girls that was introduced last year.
They went to Tasmania and the lands of Victoria and Adelaide and Perth and this week to Rockhampton before the caravan retreats through northern New South Wales and later to Sydney in 2019.
The road show was about finding more women and girls a place in golf, but it has broadened since the Australian Human Rights Commission announced guidelines for golf clubs around compliance with anti-discrimination legislation earlier this year. The implication was that some clubs broke the law by, for example, having only one gender play on Saturday.
That is where the difficult talks are held, because nothing makes the blood flow like a debate about the respective rights of men and women.
It is tiring and exciting at the same time for Kurdas, who came from an Australian football background to face the challenge in 2018, when GA scrutinizes the split of male and female membership, now running at 80-20 realizes that it had to change. It was launched in Adelaide, as it happened, with Hannah Green participating as a bright, young face of female golf, a potential inspiration for young girls who are inclined to play the game.
The national governing body has taken a collaborative approach, which is why Kurdas is on the way to talk to leaders in the nation's 1500 clubs about the conversations to be held. She tells a group of club leaders in Adelaide that GA cannot and will tell them what to do. "We want to put you on our shoulders."
She tells the participants her own story about playing golf with her Turkish immigrant father, in his 60s, for the first time, and how they had found a way to participate in the nine-hole game at a public course in the country, late year. She tells them that the game of golf needs to change quickly to participate in the modern market, full of timeless men and women.
She mentions that in 1970 34 percent of the club members in Australia were women. But those times had also changed – women's emancipation, free education, more women moving to the staff, no divorce. "Life has changed for women," she says. "Golf has forgotten to change with it. The way golf is structured and positioned has been great for men's lives. But if we make the sport for women future-proof, it will also be the sport for men in the future. & # 39 ; & # 39;
People come to her after the road shows and they talk, and many of them love what they hear about the movement to give women equality in the game for the first time. The emails that come in are usually positive. What she has heard has at least been interesting
A snapshot, starting with the positive …
One club in regional Victoria recently came to GA to say that it had made some changes to its structure, but when the (male) board members started talking to GA, they were told that the structure was still discriminatory and as such could be legally liable be challenged.
The club went back home and contacted GA a few weeks later. To the great surprise and gratitude of Kurdas, they had access to both sexes on all days. "We didn't think they would change," said Kurdas. "How wonderful that they did it themselves. We gave them the tools. Clubs lead themselves to the solution. We didn't have to kick them and shout. & # 39; & # 39;
Recently at Newcastle Golf Club, the board announced constitutional changes to allow equal access to tee times on all days, adding a restructuring of their membership categories for a good measure
At another regional club a woman came forward to ask her club why the ladies club championships could not be played on the weekend. The result? "She was socially alienated in her club and threatened with eviction, & # 39; & # 39; said Kurdas." Because she asked the hard question! "
Kurdas sees a hypocrisy in the way golf tackles all of this. "Golf can be so unofficial. Shake the ball and it's & # 39; punishment! & # 39 ;, & # 39; & # 39; she says." But when it comes to laws of life, why is golf immune? "
But she is satisfied that these questions are now being asked in our golf clubs, happy that the conversation in those clubs is ongoing. Do we comply with the law? Are we vulnerable to legal action? What kind of club and society do we want to be?
Another snapshot of the road shows: in the Victoria country, a woman came forward to talk to Kurdas and told her that she stopped playing for 20 years when she worked full-time before returning to golf in her forties. "Stop there," said Kurdas. "You tell me that you gave up the game for 20 years because you had to work?! In which world is that good?
"We have a decreasing membership, which means a declining turnover, and that is 20 years of membership that your club did not get. Do the math."
At another roadshow, a woman who was a former school principal (and a golf enthusiast) came forward and reported that she was no longer playing for 40 years due to full-time work and the lack of access to golf at the weekend.
"What I have learned is that many women – and some men – have been stopping and closing this for a long time, because there is no safe environment to talk, & # 39; & # 39; said Kurdas." Vision 2025 has an authorizing environment created. It's great to talk about gender equality and that women have been stopped. "
Vision 2025 was launched in February 2018. It is aimed at raising that percentage of female members, who are currently reaching a low of 20 percent, to a level never before determined. The first step is to create equality of access for women and girls, which means that the concept of & # 39; Saturday for me, Wednesday for women & # 39; has essentially disappeared
There is a fierce debate about the timing of club championships, some of which are still making plans for women and girls during the week, excluding access for those working or studying at the university.
There is a conversation about how open access really works. In reality, for example, female members must have the right to play on Saturday to comply with the law, but clubs can still receive prizes for the best male and best female player of the day
Simple enough, but it is unnecessary to say that it is a tricky area when it involves decades of tradition.
Kurdas says that in most cases clubs embrace the idea when it is presented to them. They know it must happen. How should success be measured? The reality is that the results need some time to rise, even when the momentum seems to be shifting.
"The first point will be that new women engage in social play and engage in play more often," said Kurdas. "For me, success is determined by the number of clubs that actively implement measures to try to change the decreasing female membership experience."
Chyloe Kurdas says that in most cases this is about contributing to healthy communities. "When we talk about gender equality, it's not about sport, it's about human rights. And what we create in our sports clubs invades the community. With our sports platform we influence the kind of society in which we want our children to live and in which our grandchildren live
"If you want to live in a society that closes doors for your daughters and your granddaughters, fine, that is permanent in your golf club. But if you want a society that says: & # 39; My daughter, my granddaughter, my great-granddaughter, my wife , my girlfriend must have access to all parts of society & # 39; then we must facilitate that in our sports clubs and golf must be a part of it. "