For more than 20 years, the Irons Golf Society has given LGBT+ golfers in London a platform to meet like-minded individuals and share their love of the game.
The inspiration for the society came back in 1996, where its founder – a gay man in the capital – happily played golf at his local club but wanted to meet new people who he perhaps had more in common with.
As a result, the Irons Golf Society was born and now has between 70 and 80 members, although captain of the group for 2018, Peter Heather, is determined to raise its profile further.
“Unfortunately, apart from BLAGGS in Brighton, we don’t know of another LGBT+ golf society in the UK,” he explained. “Some of the new members we get, we ask them how they heard about us and most of them say they just Googled ‘gay golf’ by chance and we appeared. That’s how I joined.
“It surprises me how long it takes for many LGBT+ golfers to find us. That’s something we’d like to change.”
Peter, who is also a member at a golf club in Fareham Hampshire, joined Irons 12 years ago and has never looked back since, forging new friendships and going on tour with the society across the UK and occasionally to Europe.
Golf season over! Well done to Peter for winning the coveted President's Balls! pic.twitter.com/oYPV2yXNUA— Irons Golf 🏳️🌈⛳ (@ironsgolf) October 25, 2017
Now, the challenge for the society is to engage more with members of the LGBT+ community who are keen to get into the sport, but perhaps aren’t comfortable in the traditional golf club environment.
“Most of the people who join us are already golfers, but over the past few years we’ve realised that there are people in the LGBT+ community who love golf and want to play golf, but struggle to find other golfers to play with. They are probably thinking ‘How do I get started?’” he continued.
“I think this is especially the case with the LGBT+ community because, as statistics show, we’re quite a marginalised group. When I meet and play with new golfers at my home club, there’s that conversation that always seems to happen during a four-hour round of golf… ‘Are you married?’ ‘Do you have children?’ Etc. All these questions start coming out and if you’re not comfortable with that, it can be quite a turn-off.
“But with the Irons Golf Society, it can be that outlet for golf where your gender or sexuality is not important and members know that around one another they can be completely themselves on the golf course.
“It’s opened up new friendships for me and the social element is just fantastic.”
If you’re interested in joining, email email@example.com
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