As Elisa Gaudet boarded her flight to Europe in March this year no one could have predicted the scale and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With meetings planned in London, France, Geneva and Spain as well as filming for a forthcoming documentary on women’s golf in the pipeline Elisa was undeterred. In fact, she was determined to see as many people as possible during her visit.
Elisa’s passion and drive are renowned in the golf industry. Alongside her dedicated team and global ambassador network, she has taken a great idea and turned it into the only global single day celebration of women’s sport: Women’s Golf Day.
Now in its 5th year, the annual event was scheduled to take place on June 2nd so meetings with The R&A, Sky Sports, sponsors and The French and Spanish Golf Federations were intended to increase the reach of this already impressive campaign.
In 2019, more than 900 locations across 52 countries held Women’s Golf Day events on the same day. Here in Florida, just like women across the globe, thousands of women celebrated their love of the game wearing red and white and posting photos of their events on social media. The scale of the reach of #womensgolfday on that one day is phenomenal! 25 million people viewed WGD content for a total of over 47 million impressions across social media in 2019 including some of the biggest brands, influencers and celebrities around the game including Annika, Jack & Barbara Nicklaus, Michelle Wie West and many golf social media influencers.
With 2020 firmly in her sights, no one could have predicated what would happen between her arrival at London’s Heathrow and the WGD event date June 2, 2020. Elisa explains, “As I travelled through Europe things escalated really quickly. It was astonishing really. After a great meeting with the French Federation I headed to Geneva and waited to see whether I could get to Spain for meetings or back to my home in West Palm Beach, Florida.” The Floridian resident finally made it back just before the USA went into lockdown and then set about one of the most impressive turnarounds, we’ve seen in COVID times.
Rather than cancel the annual WGD celebration, Elisa decided to mobilize her team and create a Virtual Celebration of women’s golf on June 2nd. Her thinking was that in this time of crisis bringing people together through golf was even more important than before. With the blessing of her sponsors and supporters, The WGD Team set about collating video content from around the world and transforming their website to host this content. In just 6 weeks they created a digital global celebration that included 38 videos from well-known golf luminaries and celebrities on inspiration, business and leadership, fitness and golf instruction.
WGD is about engaging, empowering and supporting women and WGD wanted to support a wide global community, specifically to raise funds to help those who needed it most during COVID-19. Calling in all of her favors, Elisa and her team managed to get money can’t buy auction items from famous faces and places all over the world.
The response was overwhelming as Elisa explains: “When we began to understand the impact of COVID in places like Uganda where we have annual events, I wanted to galvanize the industry and unite to raise much needed money for Doctors Without Borders. Their work in Africa and other remote places in the world is so important. That’s when we came up with the hashtag #WGDUnites which has because almost as popular as #womensgolfday proving the desire people have to help. We wanted people to understand we are all in this together and we need to stay connected and support one another. It is the right thing to do.”
Virtual Women’s Golf Day did unite millions of people, and in doing so, their auction raised $20,000 for Doctors without Borders. If you go onto their YouTube Channel, you’ll see videos from women in Croatia and the Dominican Republic sitting alongside tips from Major Winners; Annika, Georgia Hall, Michelle Wie-West and a special message to the WGD community from Jack & Barbara Nicklaus. This is what is great about Women’s Golf Day – it is for everyone. It is inclusive in every sense of the word.
Engage, Empower and Support is the Women’s Golf Day mantra. Through this WGD community they connect new and existing golfers and give them a way to engage and try golf and celebrate and be part of a global community. The revised date for Women’s Golf Day is September 1st with events planned at locations where the pandemic is under control. It will be much more low-key than usual, but there are plenty of other things for women golfers to look forward to including the WGD VIP Membership programme that allows women to get amazing golf gear and resources and connect with a community.
WGDVIP is a membership programme. There are 3 levels of membership to suit different budgets, but each one comes with free gifts and access to offers that are designed to retain their interest in the game.
Elisa continues: “Over the last 5 years we have established a great community of women who have a shared passion. We want to bring these women closer together and give our VIP members more opportunities to play golf, network and feel part of this global community. We know that women want to feel like they belong, and we believe that we give them a home where they can feel part of something much bigger.”
Elisa’s quest to change the face of golf is inspiring. She has been invited to speak about women’s golf at numerous sports and business conferences internationally including the International Sports Conference- Geneva, Switzerland; The Asian Pacific Golf Summit in India and at The European Golf Course Owners Association. WGD’s future and goal is that any woman in any country has the opportunity to participate in a Women’s Golf Day event and try golf.
The future is bright, we are in this together and staying connected and creating a stronger supportive community.