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If you book a tee time on an Okanagan golf course, you’re likely to see more men than women working and playing at the club.
Gallagher’s Canyon Golf Club is on a mission to change this.
With the strong leadership of women like Sales, Events and Marketing Manager Ruthanne Arams and Food and Beverage Manager Jenny MacDonald, the beloved Kelowna facility makes gender parity on and off the course a priority at all levels of operation.
“Golf has long been seen as a men’s sport,” says Ruthanne. “But it’s not necessarily that women don’t want to golf. They either aren’t invited or are too intimidated to join because no one ever taught them how to play.”
And that can have real world consequences that span far beyond missing out on the love of the sport. Because golf is often used in corporate workplaces as a networking or even sales tool, women in those workplaces are more likely to miss out on opportunities that come from time on the course.
In many ways, golf has traditionally been a symbol of the “old boys club” mentality. This has also played a role in creating a historically male-dominated workforce at golf clubs.
“Jobs at golf clubs often attract men because it means free golf,” says Jenny. “If women are intimidated by the sport, it’s harder to attract them to those jobs.”
According to Jenny, it’s also difficult to retain female staff because of the challenges associated with balancing varying shifts, late nights and events at all hours of the day with family life.
“Many people think of food service and hospitality as in-between jobs, but those jobs can grow into rewarding careers,” she says. “Ruthanne and I both fell in love with the industry at a young age and had to overcome a lot of challenges to pursue long term careers.”
“We’re both moms,” Ruthanne adds. “Daycare is usually based on a 9-5 schedule, and that makes it difficult to secure childcare for banquets, wedding receptions and everything else we need to be present for at the club.”
“We’re really lucky to work somewhere that offers flexibility and leads with compassion,” says Jenny. “That is a key part of recruiting women long term in any industry.”
In addition to making diverse representation in the workplace a priority, Gallagher’s Canyon Golf Club is committed to creating a safe and welcoming place for women to learn and play.
“We have so many great programs coming up this season specifically for women,” Ruthanne says. “We’re hosting monthly Tips n’ Sips events where women can come learn how to play while enjoying wine and charcuterie and She’s on the Tee events which are designed specifically for local women in business to learn and network together.”
The club also hosts a monthly ladies night on the Pinnacle course for all levels of experience with prizes, dinner and more.
On top of these events, any beginners to the sport will have lots of options to practice their skills. As players transition from lessons to the golf course, the five sets of tees offer choices based on ability. The 9-hole executive Pinnacle course is also a great beginner friendly option.