top of page

"It’s critical that everyone champions women." First Look Golf chats with Elaine Wrigley, Director and Board member at American Golf

In honour of International Women's Day, First Look Golf had the opportunity to talk with Elaine Wrigley, Retail, Operations and People Director and Board member at American Golf.

Elaine champions diversity and inclusion, paving the way for American Golf to lead in an industry traditionally dominated by men.

Could you tell us a bit about your background and experience in promoting women and inclusivity within retail?

I’ve worked in retail in the UK, Europe, and Australia, for the past 38 years, and have been lucky enough to work across fashion, GM, DIY, and FMCG businesses.

Championing women within retail, and broader business sectors, has been something close to my heart for many years. I’m an active mentor for the Northern Power Women, and Power Collective, and was honoured to be a finalist for Mentor of the Year 2023 at its awards.

I mentor for the Princes Trust Million Makers initiative and am on its Alumni Board. I’ve also mentored, on numerous occasions, through the Modern Muse Program, and won the Specsavers Everywoman in Retail Award for Leadership, which was in recognition of the work I’ve done to inspire and lead diverse teams.

Prior to this role, I developed and led New Look’s first ED&I strategy ‘Our Kind of Inclusive’. It was a huge honour that the work the whole team and I did was short-listed for the Drapers and Retail Week Awards 2023.

Most importantly, however, is leading by example, and being an authentic leader. Giving time to coach and support women in their early career does make a difference. I’m proud to play a small part in inspiring inclusivity and championing women in the workplace.

As the world marks International Women’s Day, what do you believe are the biggest challenges facing women in the golf industry?

I genuinely don’t see the challenges that women face in the golf industry being any different to those faced across all industries. Golf is a game for everyone and is becoming even more inclusive at pace. Celebrating the differences that women bring to the game, and industry, is key.

It’s also critical that everyone champions women and helps to raise their profile in the game and the industry, both of which offer so many benefits to any individual.

How is American Golf celebrating women in golf and promoting diversity, both within the business and the sport itself?

In terms of promoting diversity with American Golf, I’m proud to say that we have strong female representation across our leadership team. I sit on the Board and 46% of our Heads of Department are female.

We will be supporting PRIDE, this year, which Scott, our Marketing Director will be championing. George Blackshaw, the UK’s #1 double amputee golfer, works on our Social Team and we have a store team member, working from a wheelchair. We have started to build out our EDIB strategy ‘Fairway’ and will be partnering with Includability, the home of inclusive organisations, to work towards being a fully accredited business for inclusion. We’re also taking part in The Princes Trust Million Makers initiative, which supports disadvantaged young people and social mobility.

In terms of promoting diversity within the sport, we will be hosting a ‘Celebrating Ladies in Golf’ event this year. Our summer campaign will be all about celebrating diversity within golf and we’re looking to work with England and Wales Blind Golf and Black British Golfers. In addition, we’re supporting the Leven Gold Medal, which supports golfing at grass roots level.

Finally, we have reviewed our full ladies offer, and have a new female Category Buying Manager, and are also looking at affordability, which is a critical factor in helping to make golf even more inclusive and accessible.

With American Golf recently announcing a partnership with DP World Tour player Beef, do you foresee any future collaborations with top level women golfers or sponsorship of events?

We’re in the process of securing a female ambassador – so watch this space. There are many events we’ll be sponsoring this year and our aim is to give support and exposure to local teams and societies that are also on the journey of making golf more inclusive.

For the second year in a row, we’ll be sponsoring the ‘Ladies Golf Lounge’ and ‘England Deaf Golf’ events and we’re in talks with many others, including LGBTQ+ societies.

In five years’ time, what do you hope the golf retail industry looks like?

I’m optimistic that the golf industry will be far more inclusive, and even more accessible to all. I’m also certain that female representation will be far greater, alongside cultural, racial, age, sexual orientation, gender, religious and disability representation.

Golf provides so many positive health, and social interaction benefits. This being celebrated far more widely will be our measure of success.