'Wow these girls can play': sex integration in professional golf

Bowes, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-5635-106X and Kitching, N., 2020. 'Wow these girls can play': sex integration in professional golf. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. ISSN 2159-676X

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Men and women typically operate in separate spaces in the sporting world, with sport being one of the few social institutions that continues to segregate the two sexes. The culture of golf, like sport more broadly, is widely regarded as male-dominated, despite women’s involvement in playing the sport throughout history. Typically, women’s participation has not been welcomed nor taken seriously, and golf cultures have normalised exclusionary and discriminatory practices towards women. However, golf is a sport where sex integrated practices can and do take place, with distinctions between tee boxes catering for men and women competing together. There have been instances in the professional game of women competing in men’s tournaments; in 2018, the Men’s European Tour invited 5 professional female players to compete at the GolfSixes. This paper draws upon interview data with those 5 players on their experiences of competing against men. Adopting a postmodern feminist stance, and particularly drawing on Lorber’s ‘Biology as Ideology’ argument, this paper sheds light on the complexities of sex integration in a sporting domain, highlighting a balancing act between the subversion of gendered norms and a reinforcement of them. This is exacerbated using forward tees in golf settings, and there was evidence of the sportswomen themselves negating the potential for the subversion of gendered hierarchies by perpetuating understandings on the ‘naturalness’ of sex differences. As such, challenging dominant gender norms in sex–integrated competition requires a ‘buy in’ from both sexes as to the capabilities of women’s bodies in a sporting sense.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Creators: Bowes, A. and Kitching, N.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Date: 20 February 2020
ISSN: 2159-676X
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 25 Feb 2020 15:56
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 03:00
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/39281

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