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LPGA Tour Teams Up With Dow For Sustainability Initiatives

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Photo Courtesy Courtney Cook

Women’s golf participation is seeing a stark increase. The National Golf Foundation said 820,000 women started playing between 2020 and 2022, compared to 465,000 men. Around 38% of new female golfers are under age 18, as the sport reckons with a past built on being “a sport of gentlemen” and tears down over two centuries of boys’ club mentalities. 

Gender equality and representation in golf have battled historic misogynistic undertones. The LPGA Tour, the ladies’ pro tour, began in 1948. While plenty of top women’s golfers have played on the Tour, it has not received the same recognition as the men’s PGA Tour. Dow Chemical, the chemical supply firm, wants to help promote more female participation in the sport. 

Dow has a plan. It became the Official Sustainability Resource for the LPGA in 2021, as golf continues to find eco-friendly solutions to water use and waste management.

It is fostering a social inclusion strategy in addition to its environmental activism. 

Empowerment programs like Girls Golf are leading the charge. This LPGA program encourages junior players to participate in swing and confidence-building lessons. Dow’s “Play, Love, Think Green” curriculum aims to teach the girls who participate — ages 6 through 17 — how they can positively impact the environment. 

The Girls Golf program was started in 1989 by Sandy LaBauve, an LPGA legend. It began in Phoenix and now has 550 sites teaching 100,000 students globally. In 2023, Girls Golf celebrated 1 million participants since its inception. The LPGA hopes to have another million by 2030.

Photo Courtesy Andrew Lomas

Cori Matheson, director of Girls Golf of Phoenix, says she works with 1,000 junior players a year, teaching them leadership skills and other valuable traits. She says the desert environment is a perfect place to teach people about water conservation concerning golf. 

At the 2023 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitation in Michigan, the LPGA donated more than $1 million to charities like Women of Colors, the Bay Area Women’s Center of Michigan, and Girls on the Great Lakes Bay Run. Additionally, firms like Core Technology Molding Corp., KW Plastics, and others utilize recycled plastics to create items like ball markers, divot tools, and tees.

Dow has recruited Tour members Maria Fassi and Katherine Kirk as sustainable ambassadors. The two will promote the ESG goals of the Tour by committing themselves to reducing or offsetting travel/lifestyle.

That requires them to calculate their carbon footprint and compensate for the unavoidable emissions through climate mitigation projects.

“Our world is facing a whole lot of challenges, and it can be difficult to grasp what you, as one person, can do to make a difference,” Fassi said in a statement. “As an athlete, I want to use the platform I’ve been given to drive positive change and help others understand that they can do that too, one step, one choice at a time.” 

Golf has enjoyed many diversity wins over the past 10 years. Prestigious clubs like Augusta National and the Royal Club of St. Andrews now allow women members. These were landmark achievements, signifying a shift from the old ways. Over a quarter of female participants are non-white, up from 6% just 20 years ago.

Photo Courtesy Kaleb Tapp

Golf entertainment venues like TopGolf have made it easier for women to get involved in the sport, even if they have no interest in playing it outside the driving range.

To further expand availability, Walmart is offering low-cost equipment for those looking to play but dissuaded by the price. By creating more access to golf, it will become more inclusive. The LPGA signed a deal with the box store chain to ensure female players can get low-cost gear, too. Junior golfers can choose between multiple club-and-bag options, depending on club needs. 

“Our work with the LPGA and LET is perfectly in step with Dow’s ambitious 2025 sustainability goals, specifically by leading a blueprint for sustainability and engaging with communities, customers, and employees for positive impact,” Mary Draves, chief sustainability officer and vice president, environment, health & safety at Dow, said in a news release.


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