“We Have to Take a Stand:” Golfer Speaks Out After Losing Top-Two Finish to a Male Athlete

By Ashley McClure

For Teresa Garella, golf has been a source of relaxation and escape for over 20 years. But with males now competing in female-only competitions, the golf course is no longer the safe haven it once was. 

Garella began playing golf during a difficult time in her life. “I needed a hobby, and then I got hooked,” she said. “I love how calm it is on the golf course. I just love it.” 

Garella is a member of the Florida State Golf Association, which is the largest golf association in the country. It offers recreational tournaments for adult players, which Garella said she frequently participates in.

“I’ve enjoyed playing in their one-day events and tournaments since I moved [to Florida] in 2022,” she said. “They always do a great job, and I had never encountered anything [out of the ordinary].” 

At a tournament in April 2024, however, Garella said she noticed something wasn’t right when the person behind her started hitting unusually long shots off the tee. 

“I said, ‘Oh, that must be a group of men or a mixed group behind us.’ But the girl I was playing with said, ‘Oh no, that’s a transgender, and he’s playing in the women’s division.’” 

According to Garella, she had never seen a woman hit shots as far-reaching as this male player who identified as a transgender woman. 

“After his drive, he only needed a sand wedge to reach the green, where most ladies would need a wood, hybrid, or longer iron,” she said. 

Garella said that if it hadn’t been for the male player, she would have placed second in the tournament that day. Due to his participation, she placed third. 

“The prizes aren’t big. It’s not like you’re going out to win a college scholarship,” she said. “But it’s about the camaraderie, about playing with women against other women. Nobody ever expects to win, but you always should have the chance to win.” 

Garella continued, “It’s not about the money or the pro shop credit. It’s the principle of it.” 

Since the Florida-based NXXT Women’s Pro Golf Tour recently amended its rules to clarify that only biological females are eligible to compete in ladies’ events, Garella said she reached out to the Florida State Golf Association to find out if they had a similar policy. 

According to Garella, they said their gender policy mirrors the United States Golf Association’s policy, which allows males to compete against females. “I told them that this policy is great for men, but there are a lot of women that enthusiastically enter a tournament assuming that they’re playing on an even field, and playing in a ladies’ event against a biological male just doesn’t feel fair,” Garella said. 

Despite the disappointing fact that the Florida State Golf Association currently allows males to compete in ladies’ events, Garella feels hopeful that this may not be the case for long. 

“They responded to me and said that their governing bodies are working on adjusting the current policies in place and that they were hoping for more guidance in the near future,” she told IWF. 

IWF reached out to the Florida State Golf Association for clarity on their gender policy, but they did not respond to our inquiry. 

As things stand, Garella is set to compete against the male golfer again in an upcoming tournament. While she has decided to play regardless of his participation, she said other women have chosen not to. 

“The girl I was playing with said that some of her friends check the roster before tournaments to see who’s signed up,” Garella said. “If he’s playing, they won’t come to it because it’s just not fair. Why waste your time and money?” 

While Garella does not know the transgender-identifying male personally and feels no ill will towards him, she hopes that by speaking out, change will come about more quickly. 

“It’s this situation I’m not okay with,” she said. “For us, for women, we have to take a stand.” 


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