Business women from the worlds of sport, government, media and finance gathered at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open on Friday for a fascinating discussion about women’s sport sponsorship and development.

BBC News presenter and keen golfer Naga Munchetty led the conversation with guests including Aberdeen’s chief investment officer Anne Richards, Provost Joan Sturgeon (the mother of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola) and Ladies European Tour members Cheyenne Woods and Carin Koch.

Sturgeon recounted her family’s golfing heritage and outlined the work that North Ayrshire Council is doing to encourage more girls into a healthy, active lifestyle. Meanwhile Koch and Woods gave their professional advice on how best to encourage girls into golf.

Richards revealed why Aberdeen sponsors the Ladies’ Scottish Open and discussed how sport can help women in business, as well as how they can overcome any barriers they may face.

“Golf and sailing are two sports where women and men can compete together,” said Richards, adding: “In sport, you learn about success and failure, putting yourself out there and gaining resilience. If women take themselves out of that training ground, then they are not gaining the same tools, which are important in politics, business and the media.”

European Solheim Cup Captain Koch and Woods agreed that the support of strong brands is helping to raise the profile and commercial value of women’s sport and golf in particular.

“We’re growing the LET and with the support of Aberdeen and other great sponsors we’re getting there,” said Koch. “The image of golf has changed. Everyone out here is a strong athlete that plays golf and I love that image.”

Jill Maxwell, head of sponsorship at Aberdeen, added: “The women golfers hit the ball a long way but they are not as intimidating as playing with the men, so our clients really enjoy playing with the women golfers and it’s a huge benefit for us.”

The 2015 Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open  now occupies a prime spot on the Ladies European Tour calendar, sitting just one week ahead of the Women’s British Open and offers a prize fund of €500,000, which is double that of 2014.

The event’s unique pro-am format sees 80 amateurs and celebrities tee it up alongside a limited field of 80 of the top female golfers in the world. The 54-hole tournament is played over three days and is the only annual professional Ladies European Tour event in Scotland.

brek2762From left: Cheyenne Woods, Anne Richards, Carin Koch and Provost Joan Sturgeon.