April 18, 2021

How can golf become more diverse?

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“Golf has been welcoming to me but might not have felt that way to everyone who looks like me, so we need to continue to work on it and create that inclusive and welcoming environment.”

By Ali Stafford

Last Updated: 29/07/20 5:06pm

Mariah Stackhouse will play in the LPGA Drive On Championship Mariah Stackhouse will play in the LPGA Drive On Championship

Mariah Stackhouse will play in the LPGA Drive On Championship

LPGA Tour player Mariah Stackhouse believes more work must be done to reduce gender and racial inequality within golf, although is excited for the future of the women’s game.

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The LPGA Tour makes a long-awaited return this week with the LPGA Drive On Championship, only the fifth tournament of the year and the first since February due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Stackhouse is one of only a handful of black golfers within the professional women’s game, despite significant efforts to make golf more inclusive and boost minority participation, with the world No 229 looking to see the sport improve its level of diversity.

Stackhouse made her LPGA Tour debut in 2016 Stackhouse made her LPGA Tour debut in 2016

Stackhouse made her LPGA Tour debut in 2016

“In terms of equality and pay, there’s still huge gaps between the men’s and women’s game, so continuing to try and bridge that and bring it closer together will be a continued journey,” Stackhouse told the Sky Sports Golf vodcast.

“When you look at the number of people of colour represented in higher-up positions in the golf world and the number of scholarships being given to minority golfers, the numbers are still low and it shows that there’s room for improvement there as well.

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“We just want to continue to make the game of golf not only feel inclusive but represent diversity like it has the potential to do. I still think there’s work to be done and the conversations that we’ve had in recent years around gender equality and racial equality will continue to further that.

“I think we’ll continue to brainstorm ways to increase diversity in this game that I love so much. Golf has been welcoming to me but might not have felt that way to everyone who looks like me, so we need to continue to work on it and create that inclusive and welcoming environment.”

Stackhouse played in all five women's majors in 2019 Stackhouse played in all five women's majors in 2019

Stackhouse played in all five women’s majors in 2019

The LPGA Tour has seen prize money and television coverage increase significantly in recent years since Mike Whan took over as commissioner, with higher numbers of young girls also taking up the sport.

“Mike Whan’s leadership over the past decade has been huge, continuing to grow the LPGA Tour as a brand and attract both players and sponsors to the door,” Stackhouse added.

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“I think we’re going to continue to see that upward movement and I see great things for the women’s game. We have players from all over the world and are such a diverse group of women.

“All that means is that there are so many people and communities that the Tour can reach, speak to and connect with. I would continue to leverage that and I think the opportunity for growth for us in the women’s game is exponential.”

Watch the LPGA Drive On Championship throughout the week on Sky Sports. Coverage of the opening round begins at 12am on Saturday on Sky Sports Golf.