When ‘The Jazzy Golfer’ walked outside the ropes at the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie last year as a spectator, women in the gallery approached her to say they’d taken up golf but couldn’t find other women in their area to play with – could she help?
Jasmine, who goes by “Jazzy” and prefers not to divulge her surname for security reasons, went to work on an idea that would mirror Parkrun, a robust collection of 5K races that take place in parks across the United Kingdom on Saturday mornings.
“People basically register, turn up and run,” said Jazzy. “I felt like that was a really good model.”
Two weeks ago, Jazzy, a social media influencer, presenter, and speaker, launched the U.K Women’s Golf Community (UK WGC), a series of social meetups for females all over the U.K. who have an interest in golf. The community has already grown to over 1,400 women, and there are currently five meet-up venues up-and-running across England with an additional 10 venues in the pipeline in places like Swindon, Newcastle, Salisbury, Rugby, Coventry, Bedford, Bristol, Leicester, Essex, and London.
Jazzy personally enlisted the help of more than 40 folks who work in golf to help organize and promote the effort.
It was less than five years ago when Jazzy first picked up a golf club while on family holiday in Portugal. After a series of whiffs and worm-burners, she struck a wedge shot that landed exactly where she intended, and from that moment on, she was hooked.
Jazzy worked full-time in finance at the time and when back home in the U.K., tried to find amateur millennials online she could learn from but had no success. That’s what led her to start the Jazzy Golfer Instagram page to document her progress and try to encourage other women to take up the game. Friends already called her “Jazzy” and she’s fond of wearing colorful items. The name seemed a natural fit.
Finding other women to play with after work or on the weekends, however, wasn’t the only hurdle.
“I loved the game, the game was so fun, I was addicted,” said Jazzy, “but the culture didn’t marry up with that, and that’s what I didn’t love.”
On her way to the driving range at her club, she’d often get whistled at or have derogatory comments about “fresh meat” hurled her way. As her online profile grew, Jazzy began to speak out about the sexism that exists in the sport.
Soon she was invited to speak on panels about how clubs can be more inviting toward women. She became an ambassador for the British Junior Golf Tour, a presenter for Visit Scotland, the Ladies European Tour and the European Tour, and served on the launch panel for The R&A Women in Golf Charter.
In early 2021, Jazzy, who ultimately left her career in finance, took issue with a sexist meme online that compared men who have tantrums on golf courses to women on their periods. The meme page, which has over 750,000 followers, pinned Jazzy’s comment and soon her inbox was flooded with hate mail.
She responded with several videos on social media that addressed the harassment women often experience online. Those videos went viral. Hundreds of women reached out to express their thanks to Jazzy, saying “I feel heard.”
While Jazzy said the good far outweighed the bad in that situation, she did have to get the police involved in multiple cases of harassment.
Some of them are still ongoing.
“As women with opinions,” said Jazzy, “we are subject to some people who don’t believe we should have them in the first place.”
During the planning stages of the U.K. meetups, Jazzy reached out to U.S.-based Abby Liebenthal of Fore the Ladies, Inc., and the women behind Grueter Golf for advice on building a community of female golfers.
Liebenthal has worked in golf for most of her career, from the AJGA to the Tiger Woods Foundation to Titleist. She’s currently the Senior Manager of Championship Marketing at the USGA.
Abby Liebenthal of Fore the Ladies (courtesy photo)
Liebenthal admits that when she was getting back into golf herself, she’d only play with the same two or three people and would sometimes get so nervous if someone else planned to join that she wouldn’t show up. Golf courses can be an intimidating place – for men and women.
Liebenthal told Jazzy not to put too much pressure on how many people show up to her initial events. Even a handful of women can create meaningful change.
“It’s like hosting a birthday party when you’re in the fourth grade,” said Liebenthal. “Is anyone going to come to my party? That’s the emotion I would have.”
Liebenthal hosted her first event in March of 2019 at Newport Indoor Golf and 70 ladies showed up. In 2020, she put events on pause during the pandemic and worked to grow the brand with a podcast and newsletter.
In 2021, Fore the Ladies hosted 26 events. There are currently 17 planned through June, including sold-out golf trips to Pinehurst and Bandon Dunes. She has July and August blocked off for her wedding.
“Now, we have totally flipped the switch,” she said. “My biggest fear is do we have enough room for people?”
Jazzy ran a pilot for the UK WGC back in November in Swindon to see if there was an appetite for the concept. She purposefully did not promote the event on her social media channels. That first week, five women came to the driving range, and the second week they had 20. With only 19 bays at the facility, they doubled up and occupied half the range.
“Apart from the LPGA and LET events that I’ve worked at,” said Jazzy, “I’d never seen that many women on a driving range, and it was awesome.”
There’s no stopping her now.