JEDDAH: A golf initiative launched by Saudi Arabia to get women into the sport saw more than 1,000 new golfers sign-up in just four days.
Inspired by the weekend’s debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International – the Kingdom’s first ever professional women’s golf tournament – hundreds of women across the country registered to learn golf for the first time.
The newly launched “Ladies First Club,” will be giving free golf lessons, driving range access and full rounds of golf at courses across the country.
Women will be coached through the basics of the game at either Riyadh Golf Club, Dirab Golf Club or King Abdullah Economic City’s (KAEC) Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, host course of this week’s tournaments.
The membership will also include a digital “Introduction to Golf” education pack, which will provide monthly seminars outlining the key aspects of golf for beginners. Each course will host a Ladies First golf clinic once a month, led by a professional, which will conclude with an on-course induction for all participants and an 18-hole round.
The club opened for membership on the first the tournament on Thursday, where it saw more than 500 women sign up.
There were less than 20 female members across the Kingdom’s golf clubs ahead of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International.
It was launched as a way of bringing more Saudi women into golf, as part pf Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 which aims to get more Saudis regularly active.
“We have been absolutely blown away by the phenomenal response to the Ladies First Club. One thousand new golfers is extraordinary for golf in Saudi Arabia and will change the entire landscape of the game across the Kingdom,” Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al-Sorour said.
“To have a thousand of our women and girls commit to learning golf on the weekend of our debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF is an unbelievable legacy, and goes beyond even our most ambitious expectations,” he added.
Arabic golfer Maha Haddioui - was one of the 108 professionals competing in the Aramco Saudi Ladies International – said she knew the event was making waves when she came off the course to Instagram requests from Saudi women desperate to know how they could get into golf.
“I got direct messages from Saudi women saying: ‘I want to play golf, how do I do it?’, which was great with the Ladies First Club launching this same weekend. So I sent them the link and they signed-up, which is so exciting! I can’t wait to follow-up with them a year or so down the line,” Haddioui said.
“They’ve just been awesome, messaging me and asking questions all about golf. It shows the impact this event – and the Ladies First Club – are having here. Something like this I’d never have been able to even imagine two years ago when I first came here to play,” she added.
Ladies European Tour CEO Alexandra Armas spoke of her delight at the instant impact of the Tour’s first event in the Kingdom, and paid testament to Golf Saudi for ensuring women inspired by the tournament had a simple and accessible way to carry that momentum forward.
“As soon as I started conversations with Golf Saudi about bringing the Tour here I was very keen to understand what their vision was for the game in the Kingdom, and how they wanted to develop golf here,” said Armas.
“The Ladies First Club is a superb concept and with a thousand members joining in just its first four days shows that what’s happening on the golf course here is already translating into women and girls picking up golf clubs, which is just fantastic,” she added.
Off the course, and the Ladies First Club will also provide a range of social opportunities, including invites to social mornings, plus the likes of Pilates, yoga, bridge and other wellbeing activities.