Role models, race, and gender – Felicity Shiba takes golfscape through her journey in golf
On the 8th of March, every year, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. A day to highlight the social, economic, political, and cultural achievements of women. We couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate this day, other than putting a spotlight on women in golf. golfscape interviews South Africa’s Felicity Shiba, a golfer, a fashion designer, a writer, and a mommy (to name a few!) In the interview Felicity shares her incredible journey through golf, from her greatest achievements to equality in the sport.
“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform.” — Diane Mariechild
So to begin, the first thing we would love to ask is how and why you started playing golf? What do you love about it?
I’ve always wanted to play golf, even when I was growing up. I just never got the chance to because I was already playing other sports. So when I was 30 living in Zimbabwe with lots of time in my hands it seemed like the perfect time to start. Best decision ever! I love how it connects you to a vast number of people you wouldn’t normally interact with. The sport is a great way to make friends.
What are your top 2 favorite golf courses?
This is a tough one!!!! So far I’d say Royal Johannesburg and Royal Harare.
Not only do you play golf, but you are also a social media influencer, a golf writer, and a YouTuber! When did you start ‘This Girl’s Golf Diary’ and why did you begin vlogging?
I started the diary almost two years ago. I was having so much fun playing in ProAms and had really great golf days, meeting amazing Pros and I really wanted to share that with people and encourage more women to take up the sport. Additionally, to try and help get rid of the stigma that golf has for being an elitist and expensive sport.
You are also a mother AND a fashion designer… how do you juggle all of this! Tell us your secrets…
I’m pretty tired all the time. My mommy duties are limited because the kids live in the US and Jakarta with their dad and I get to be on full mommy duty during the American summer. I manage to juggle fashion and golf, so it’s all good.
We absolutely love the Tee and Sandwedges publication, when did you start working for the team and how has this helped your journey in golf so far?
I started writing for them a year ago and it has been wonderful to have an outlet like that. You can only do so much on social media pages and it’s mostly visual content. With the publication each month, I get to go into a little more detail on my journey.
Your writing is also on the front cover of the latest Travel Ideas Magazine, the write-up is great! Have you always had an interest in writing?
I’ve always had an interest in writing, it was always a strength in High school and College. I’ve written on travel for Sawubona Magazine too. As a matter of fact, writing about golf has been such a pleasure.
What has been your greatest achievement in golf so far?
When I started playing in Zim, I got to play every week sometimes 3/4 times a week and I got pretty good. As a result of this, I played for my clubs silver division and was awarded Mashonalands most improved golfer during my first 6 months into it. In 2016 my fourball won the Tshwane Open ProAm. For that reason, I’d say those are my biggest highlights…so far!
What are your thoughts about female participation in golf?
When I started golf, there was already quite a number of ladies playing but not enough Black ladies participating. Now there are a number of golf groups of amateur ladies who are well organized and the game has grown spectacularly. It’s really great to see the sport advancing.
Was golf a popular sport amongst young females when you started out? If not, why?
It really wasn’t that popular and I think it was just lack of knowledge of the game and the history of it being a male-dominated sport.
Do you think a reason why participation in golf amongst women is quite low, is due to there being a lack of female golfing role models? Who is your role model?
I think there are plenty of female role models, maybe not enough Black role models. However, that is changing with the likes of Nobuhle Dlamini, coming into her own and winning tournaments. I grew up watching Annika Sorenstam and she will forever be my absolute favorite female golfer. I do have other female golfers I love but she was the one that made me want to play the sport.
Do you believe that equality in golf is improving? How do you think golf can be introduced to more females?
I’m not sure about equality but it is definitely changing. There’s still a long way to equality in sponsorship and prize money for female Pros. Especially in South Africa, the ladies don’t earn half of what the men make and get a fraction of the sponsorships. Men’s golf still takes precedent even on media coverage making it near impossible to keep up with your favorite female golfers.
What has been your struggles so far with the sport both socially and professionally?
Nothing really socially but professionally as a Black female trying to write, blog, and report about the sport. In view of that, you sometimes get the feeling you are not welcome. Most of the time people are shocked at how much I know about the sport – I may not play as well but I sure know enough to report about it! I’m grateful to all those people who are constantly trying to include me.
If you could give any advice to any young female golfers, what would it be?
Golf is a long haul sport. It takes an incredible amount of discipline, dedication, and passion. People will play for 20 years and barely make it and then one day BOOM, a win happens…20 years of dedication all of a sudden becomes an overnight success. Just stay focused.
Last but not least, can you give us any tips on how to become a golf selfie expert?
Hahahaha! It’s all in the lighting.
We hope Felicity’s story inspires you to follow your dreams, no matter the circumstance. Happy International Women’s Day from the golfscape team.