When North Loop golf-emporium-meets-lounge Thr3 Jack opened in late 2019, founder Lucy Robb was already planning for a girls-only golf club. “The Ladies Club is a passion project for me,” she says. Fast-forward two-and-a-half years and one global pandemic, Robb is finally rallying local gals and taking to the greens.
“If you go to a course on a Saturday in the summer, nearly all the foursomes teeing up are composed of men,” Robb says. But Thr3 Jack’s Ladies Club is swinging to change that. “We want to change the narrative around golf and show women that [it] can be cool, inclusive, and fun. ”
Ladies Club member, Shannon Curry has been golfing for several years. “I picked it up to spend more time with my husband and his family — I didn’t want to miss out on the fun,” she says. Curry readily admits that she has a “nasty competitive streak.” When she started golfing, she was annoyed at not being a natural. “I would get easily frustrated, found the rules confusing, and hated the pressure that I felt when playing a round,” she says. “I had this constant fear that I was holding somebody up or doing something incorrectly. It made it difficult to even have fun. ”
With a sports background, Curry wanted more opportunities to be active with friends. Enter, the Ladies Club. “There’s no dress code, no stuffy rules, and no ranger asking you to keep pace,” she says. “Now that is my type of golf. ”
Robb knows firsthand the barriers women face entering the widely male-dominated sport — she picked up a club in her late 20s. “When I first started, I constantly felt like I was too slow and doing something wrong,” she says. “I was always looking over my shoulder to see who was watching and overthinking my every move. For such a mental game, these underlying thoughts made it really hard to improve. ”
A practicing attorney before taking the dive into Thr3 Jack, Robb saw two huge benefits of golf. “I was inspired to learn the game by both my then 85-year-old grandmother’s weekly rounds and, in part, the jealousy I experienced when my little co-workers were always sneaking out of the office to entertain clients on the course,” she says. “If I could play this game into my 80s and get out of a day at the office, I knew I had to try.”
Men have had more access to golf and continue to be the predominant players in the game. “As the sport developed,” Robb says, “the game was marketed and reinforced as a man’s game — that perception persists today.” Even the industry has historically ignored women. “The women’s golf apparel space,” she says, “has, until recently, been absent and overlooked. The LPGA receives far less money and attention than the PGA. ”
The game is, she says, “intimidating, time consuming, rigid, and overwhelmingly male,” which often keeps women from even taking a swing. But the more she opened conversations about golf, Robb noticed that women were interested, just hesitant. “They just don’t know how to start and how to overcome the intimidation factor,” she says. “But when the barriers are removed, the game can be so wonderful and rewarding.”
“I was inspired to learn the game by both my then 85-year-old grandmother’s weekly rounds and, in part, the jealousy I experienced when my little co-workers were always sneaking out of the office to entertain clients on the course. If I could play this game in my 80s and get out of a day at the office, I knew I had to try. ” –Lucy Robb, founder of Thr3 Jack and the Ladies Club
After trying to learn golf for 15 years, Abby Swenson, another Ladies Clubber, considers herself an advanced beginner. She and her father own an advertising company that focuses on advertising and social media for Minnesota golf courses and resorts. “I’m always on social media to see what’s out there in the golf world locally,” she says. She stumbled upon the Ladies Club searching #mngolf on Instagram.
Before the Ladies Club, Swenson didn’t have many friends who golfed and didn’t take the time to do it on her own. “I’m kicking myself now for waiting so long,” she says. “I wanted to join because I don’t have a ton of lady friends that golf and would love to find some.”
Thr3 Jack was born as a way to bring golf, Robb says, “to the places where people live, work, and play.” Cuddled in a North Loop ground-level space off Washington, near The Freehouse, you can find locals swinging clubs, drenched in the noise and trendy bar-restaurant atmosphere. “Unlike other, more traditional clubs, we have music on, TVs playing, and food and drink at the ready,” Robb says. “We like loud noises!” She continues: “It’s a hard game to learn, and our laidback, social style allows the fun part of the experience to shine through, even when the actual game can be frustrating.”
The Ladies Club aims to strip away the intimidation factor by keeping it casual and focusing on learning the game and practicing the fundamentals in a relaxed environment. “For us, the social aspect of the Ladies Club is almost as important as the golf,” Robb says. “We want to bring women together to make meaningful connections and have a good time.”
Swenson enjoys seeing new people funneling in each week, she says. “I love to be a part of something that fosters a positive and warm environment for ladies, especially in a male-dominated field.”
The club launched in February with several indoor events at Thr3 Jack and currently has about 35 members. “There’s always a fun competition just to get you focused while you’re up there, but even in you completely miss, the whole crew is cheering,” Curry says.
And how do you become a member? No membership fees or food and drink minimums, like polo-laiden traditional clubs. “Basically, anyone who joins one of our events is a Ladies Club member,” Robb says.
Weekly Swing Sessions, which are free to members, start on the range with tips from PGA professional and instructor Emily Ferrell — also the lead instructor at White Bear Yacht Club and founder of women’s golf apparel line Abendroth Golf. The sessions end with a closest to the pin competition. “It’s like a happy hour with a side of golf,” Robb says.
Members pay for clinics, lessons, and events, but the fees include instruction, of course, plus food and an alcoholic or NA drink. (Cheers!) Hour-long Lunch and Learn events focus on swing fundamentals and instructors review basics. For new and beginning golfers, TRY Golf events are two hours, consisting of polishing basics, golf rules, swing fundamentals, and etiquette course. Thr3 Jack’s website even has a Golf 101 page for beginners.
Currently, events take place at the simulators at Thr3 Jack, but, of course, the aim of Robb’s Ladies Club is to get more women out on the green. Come real spring (ahem, fake spring number three), when courses open, sessions will move outside — to an actual course. The current plan is to move those weekly Swing Sessions to local ranges and facilitate rounds of nine during the week. Also on the horizon: golf outings for nine or 18 holes, followed by dinner and drinks.
The next TRY Golf event is from 4:30 to 6:30 pm on Thursday, March 31. Tickets are $ 75, thr3jack.com