Unfortunately, a lot of young golfers who look like me have experienced far too often the “only-one” factor. The “only one” factor is when you are noticeably the only representative of a certain group at the golf course. You could be the only person of color, the only female golfer, the only golfer of low income, the only LGBTQ+ golfer, etc., but no matter which group you’re a part of, the feeling is the same. You stick out like a sore thumb, endure questions other players around you don’t get asked, or experience microaggressions that make you feel like you don’t belong.
It has become a personal mission of mine to do whatever I can to eliminate the “only-one” factor in golf so that everyone, regardless of their background, feels welcomed, encouraged, and celebrated in our sport. The members of Generation Z, of which I am included, have a deep-rooted desire to change the world, and for those of us who play golf, transforming the sport we love is part of that. Over time, our generation has witnessed and proven that no one is ever too young to make a difference, and despite our youth, we have powerful ideas, attitudes, and perspectives that are forming. We also know that making an impact that changes the status quo can only be achieved with the support and collaboration of our experienced elders.
It’s in part why I’m excited to be a part of the Gen Z Council, a collaboration between young leaders like myself and the leaders in the golf industry. They’ve realized that collaboration among a homogenized group is simply an opportunity to agree on having the same perspective and reinforces what is already known rather than supporting growth in new areas. To really evolve and diversify our sport, a new approach has to be taken that welcomes different experiences, perspectives and expectations within the conversation. We’re now working together to facilitate solutions that will redefine our sport and eliminate stereotypes in golf. More than 90 young golfers who are members of Generation Z have come together to collaborate on suggesting and helping to enact the changes needed to help the golf industry evolve. We’ll share our pain points, ideas, and eventually create a blueprint for creating the future we want to see.
We’re already taking steps in the right direction and began by hosting a virtual town hall that brought professionals and executives from across golf together to listen to the concerns of youth golfers from under-represented populations. We shared solutions we felt could help right away, including adding diversity and inclusion training for workers within the golf industry at every level, and ensuring a seat at the table for underrepresented groups anywhere decisions are being made. The town hall was a true success because it empowered the underrepresented and enlightened the leaders. I truly believe that the platform granted to the Gen Z Council was a pivotal step in the process of altering the trajectory of the golf industry and that the future of golf remains bright for all players.
Allison McInnis is a Youth on Course alumni and a Freshman attending Wake Forest University pursuing a major in Finance and a minor in Bioethics. She is from Atlanta, Georgia and has a passion for diversity and inclusion. Allison worked as an intern for Youth on Course during the Summer of 2020 and she is now on the Leadership Team for The Gen Z Council.