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Cringeworthy viral video showcases a highly relatable problem for women golfers

February 27, 2024
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There's this range video that’s gone viral on Instagram. A young woman has her phone set up to video her as she’s hitting balls on the range. After a (well-hit) shot, a man offscreen approaches to criticize her swing and give her advice.

She’s polite, tries to explain she’s in the middle of a swing change. The man presses on, telling her how to swing, justifying his advice by saying he’s played golf for 20 years. It goes on. The woman hits another ball, and hits it well. He takes credit. The interaction is so cringeworthy that it’s hard to watch the full video.

The woman hitting balls, Georgia Ball, is a certified golf instructor located in Liverpool. The range video she was producing was for her Instagram feed devoted to golf instruction, which now has 280,000 followers. It explains why she was also wearing a microphone.

A debate began in the comments of the video and elsewhere about whether the whole thing was staged. We never see the man, and his comments are so tone deaf, it’s easy to think it’s a hoax. Ball has responded in the comments to say the interaction was real.

As a female golfer watching this video, I didn’t consider for a second it was staged. I’ve been through the same thing—more than once. I remember being on a range and a man coming up to me to ask if I knew that my driver was wide open at the top of my backswing. He let me know I'd never be able to find the center of the clubface from there. At the time I was playing competitively in college, and though I was far from the world’s greatest D-III golfer, I was familiar with the center of the clubface. I muttered something like: I know, but my swing works for me, thanks, and put my head down to keep hitting balls, hoping to send the message I didn’t want to continue the conversation.

After watching Ball's video, I informally polled a half dozen women at Golf Digest who I know play a fair amount of golf, asking if they’d ever experienced anything like this. They all had.

There were stories of men approaching my colleagues at simulators, on public ranges, on ranges at golf courses while warming up before a round. It didn’t matter if the woman was a scratch golfer or high handicapper, women of all abilities get approached by men and offered unsolicited golf advice.

“I was in college and a teammate and I were getting ready for qualifying on the wedge range at 7 a.m. like we usually do. Headphones were in, it was go time. A member of the outside staff who was picking the range got out of his picker on the opposite side of the range, walked all the way over to us to give us unsolicited swing advice,” Daria Delfino, Golf Digest’s equipment coordinator, said. She’s currently a +1.7 handicap. “He basically told us we needed to fundamentally change our swings. We were a NAIA top-15 program at the time. I finished NAIA first team All-American that year, but apparently my swing needed fixing from a man who had no business spewing advice.”

These advances aren't all inherently sinister. In the best-case scenario, someone is seeing the opportunity to help someone else, and taking it. Golf is complicated and maddening. There’s solace to be found in trying to problem solve with other players. But that’s not being achieved when men approach women they don’t know on the range and offer unsolicited advice.

After consulting several of the women I work with, I asked the men on our staff if any had been approached by a stranger on the range who offered unsolicited swing advice. Of 52 men, only two said they had. One was on a range and had shanked five shots in a row. The guy next to him told him to take a deep breath.

When women go to a golf course or range, no matter how much they play or how good they are, they can feel that lingering sense that they don’t belong. The numbers on their own are intimidating. About 25 percent of all golfers are women, so women are immediately outnumbered the second they decide to play golf.

Then are all the little details. Golf has come a long way in being more welcoming to women, but its male-dominated history is still apparent: Forward tee boxes that aren’t large or level, nonsensical dress codes, sparse clothing options in pro shops, to name a few. It all adds up to say, We weren’t planning on having you here. Or even worse, You don’t belong here.

When women are greeted by unsolicited swing advice from male strangers, this underlying tension is no longer underlying. Regardless of a man’s intention when he approaches a woman on a range to give her swing advice, the subtext seems to be, You don’t know what you’re doing.

You might think you have the answer to someone’s game, but you should still resist the urge to give a piece of unsolicited advice on the range. You might think you’re providing insight about their swing. But it's saying more.