PHOENIX, March 15, 2017 – As girls’ golf continues to ride a remarkably strong surge of growth in the United States, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) will today launch a “Changing the Face of the Game” campaign ahead of this week’s Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Girls under the age of 18 represent the fastest growing sector in the U.S. golf population since 2010 and more than 60,000 girls were engaged last year by the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf initiative, a staggering increase of 1,000 percent since the Founders Cup was launched in 2011.
The LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, which began in Phoenix in 1989, specializes in providing a “girl-friendly” environment for juniors to learn and play the game of golf and the program has expanded to nearly 400 sites across the United States, with close to 40 being added just this year.
To mark the campaign’s launch, Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan and LPGA Foundation President Nancy Henderson will hold a press conference at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, along with Kyla Wilde, a product of LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of Phoenix.
“We learned early on with Girls Golf that if you let young women come together in an all-girls environment, they begin to really enjoy the game and the retention rate is unbelievable,” said LPGA Commissioner Whan. “We introduced the Founders Cup, back in 2011, when we all decided to play for no purse and just pass it all forward to support Girls Golf — acting with a Founder mentality. When I talk to an LPGA Founder today, she is proud of what has happened to television and excited about our growth in purses, but what she really likes is what we are doing in terms of leaving the game better for the next generation of young women, and building a pipeline that can truly change the ‘face’ of golf longer-term.”
The Girls Golf campaign includes a new PSA (public service announcement), available below, which will be first aired on Golf Channel during television coverage of the 2017 Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
More than 40 members of the LPGA and Symetra Tours kickstarted their golf careers at a Girls Golf program, including Cheyenne Woods, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel, Mariah Stackhouse, Vicky Hurst and Kathleen Ekey.
“When I became President of the LPGA Foundation, it didn’t take long for me to realize how important LPGA-USGA Girls Golf is to the LPGA and to the future of the game of golf,” said LPGA Foundation President Henderson. ” What our LPGA players and teachers are doing in inspiring young girls is a testament to their dedication and passion for the game of golf. Together, we are truly making a difference in the lives of girls and helping to change the face of golf.”
Girls are getting, and accepting, the message that golf can be both welcoming and fun. Over the last 20 years, the growth of girls’ golf in the U.S. has far outpaced that of the boys. In 1995, girls made up only 17% of all junior golfers — today they total one third, according to the National Golf Foundation.
There has been similar growth in the numbers of non-white junior golfers in the U.S. during that time. Twenty years ago, only 1 out of 17 junior players was non-Caucasian, according to the NGF. Today, that number is nearly 1 out of 3.
Today’s emerging golfers are coming to the game at a much younger age in the U.S. where there are 50% more junior players under 12 than there were in 1995. The NGF’s research also found that Millennials who started playing before the age of 14 are nearly twice as likely to become regular golfers than players who picked up the game at a later stage.
Junior golf has increased in participation by 600,000 from 2011 to 2015, according to a study by the Sports Industry Association. This is the largest jump in total volume compared to other youth sports such as soccer, basketball, football and baseball.