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Girls & Golfing

golfing mckayla holmes

McKayla Holmes took up golf around the time she was entering high school.

“I was looking for a change from the sports I’d been involved in and wanted something that provided longevity — a sport I could enjoy long after I graduated,” she said. “It was a toss-up between tennis and golf.”

Golf won out because tennis involved more running than she was interested in taking on.

“A couple of days before my high school tryouts, I bought some clubs off Craigslist and planned to use my mom’s old golf shoes. However, they had illegal metal spikes, so I had to improvise and complete my first round of tryouts in a pair of Converse I borrowed from a friend. Despite the rocky start, I fell in love with the game, and it’s been a significant part of my life ever since.”

She would go on to play the sport at Benedictine College, where she was captain of the women’s golf team, graduating in 2021. Now, she is the retail store manager at PXG (Parsons Extreme Golf). And she’s committed to getting other young women and girls involved in the sport. According to a 2023 report from the National Golf Foundation, there are about 6.4 million female golfers, up from 5.6 million in 2019. Gains like that are welcome, but the majority of golfers are still men, outnumbering women by an estimated margin of three to one.

“The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) wasn’t founded until the 1950s, whereas the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) dates back to the 1910s. So, historically speaking, it makes sense that there is an imbalance in the sport’s ratio of men to women,” said Holmes.

Other barriers kept women from the sport as well, including golf clubs that would only admit men, and golf courses that excluded women from play. Those are mostly a thing of the past, and Holmes is optimistic the upward trend will continue.

“We’re moving towards a more balanced participation between men and women in golf,” she said. “For instance, at PXG, , we don’t have separate clubs for men and women. Golf clubs don’t care who’s swinging them; what matters is the swing speed, the angle of attack, and the characteristics of the swing itself. If we can find the person’s weight threshold and a combination that works, it doesn’t matter what label is in the club shaft.”

Holmes believes that golf can teach young women qualities like self-confidence, problem solving and overcoming adversity. It certainly did for her. During one high school match, she started off strong, then began faltering around the sixth hole.

“My coach came over and gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since; he said, ‘You’ve put in a lot of work, Holmes. You just have to trust yourself.’  That advice has become sort of a mantra for me, reminding me to trust in the work I’ve put in and trust in myself.”

In addition her work with PXG Houston, Holmes is the vice president of the Houston chapter of the Ladies Executive Golf Society, where she mentors junior female golfers like Cayti Shaffer.

“Our relationship started with a club fitting at PXG Houston and has evolved into regular golf games and strategic discussions, especially before major tournaments,” said Holmes. “Catyi will come into the store before competitions and practice, and I will help ensure she is mentally and physically ready for competition.”

Holmes knows that Catyi is one of many, and she looks forward to a future where female golfers show their prowess on the links.

Five Ways to Help Girls Explore Golf

Introduce the Game
Simply bringing your daughter or granddaughter to the golf course allows them to absorb and experience the game in a very natural way that organically sparks curiosity without any added pressure. It’s a chance to spend time together, and talk about the sport’s benefits, such as networking and career opportunities, which showcase the sport’s value beyond being a hobby.

Create Positive Memories
Associating golf with enjoyable experiences can boost interest. “I see many girls being introduced to the sport by their dads, taking them for a fun ride in the golf cart or getting a treat on the course,” said Holmes. “It creates a positive, stress-free introduction to the game, which can make girls look forward to playing golf.”

TV and Media Time
Regularly watching golf, especially the LPGA, opens a world of possibilities for girls by showing them what’s achievable in the sport, especially doing so when girls are young. Having them see professional women golfers compete, and hear their post-game interviews can be a powerful inspiration.

Showcase Role Models
Pointing out female golfers as role models is a way to show  the sport’s inclusivity and gives young girls someone to look up to. It’s crucial for girls to see successful female golfers, reinforcing the idea that they can achieve similar goals.

Hit the Course as A Family 
“Making golf a family activity can also make it a bonding experience rather than a competition,” said Holmes. “Golf is unique among sport in that it can be enjoyed across multiple generations. It’s one of those sports you never have to retire from.” Playing together not only fosters a love for the game but also strengthens family connections.

 

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