More women in golf, but how?
The number of women in golf in the world rarely reaches above 25%. In Sweden, it was around 28% in 2014. The number of young women is even lower. The most frequent golfer is a man of 50 and more.
80% of the 1.6 million subscribers to US mag Golf Digest are men and the most common magazine cover is a hard hitting man and headlines about how to hit longer. The English mag Today's golfer is similar and hasn't had a woman on their covers for many years.
Fewer golfers increase the interest in women
If you want to explain the growing interest in women in golf, there are at least two main trends to study. One is about the attitude to women of people engaged in the golf business and their wish not to appear too outdated. One example of this, is that the Royal & Ancient golf club of S:t Andrews in Scotland voted - which they indirectly had been forced to by the large sponsor HSBC bank - to after 260 years accept women as members. A Swedish example is that when the Swedish Golf Association in 2014 wanted to by mandatory quotas increase the number of women in the boards of golf clubs, the proposal was voted down by the General Assembly.
Women as market
The second trend is that women are an increasingly interesting market when the total number of golfers decline or is fairly stagnant.
The apparel industry has been more alert in their ambitions to convince women golfers to become more fashion oriented - that is renew their wardrobe more often - than club manufacturers, which to a very high degree are focused on persuading men to continuously buy new clubs to hit longer. Women don't seem to be as attracted by that aspect of golf although that, of course, happens.
Most Golf clubs have great financial incentives to keep and recruit more women golfers. E g in Sweden, some 56% of all clubs registered fewer members of -11 or more in 2014. More women than men leave golf - 13.000 women who entered in 2013 didn't renew their membership in 2014 - and fewer women than men start playing golf.
The Swedish Golf Association (SGF) has a program Vision 50/50 where they clearly state that Clubs for financial reasons have to attract more women.
SGF has published a report where they also present an analysis of why golf has problems in recruiting women.
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Some snippets from Vision 50/50
Why don't more women play golf?
The list below has no ambition to cover all aspect, but it summarizes a number of arguments from several investigations.
Regarding the Golf club:
• The courses are too difficult and not adapted to women's stroke distances
• Women and men are treated differently at the Club
• The quality of the facilities is lacking e.g. with respect to toilets, red tee, signs etc
• Services and products at the Club are primarily designed for men
• Women dislike outdated values and attitudes
Regarding golf players:
• Women and men don't play golf for the sam reasons
• Women prefer to a higher degree to be active and exercise in groups
• Women don't improve their game much after the initial period
• Golf takes too much time from other interests
• Big competition from the general trend to exercise, gyms
• Women don't want to compete as much as men, and not in the same way
• Many young women find it hard to find playing partners they feel connected to
• Golfen is not perceived as trendy and the golf course is not ”a place to be”
• There are too few women in golf to create networks from both a business as well as a private perspective
The importance of openness and transparency
We will here only put forward ONE of many possible suggestions to increase the number of women and young golfers. As we suggested on the page Golf culture it id quite important to find information on a Club's homepage about what is going on to make golf more attractive to women and young persons.
In many business magazines and general newspapers, you can today regularly see research and comments about the gender profile at companies. Golf clubs would most likely benefit from being more open in this respect and at the same time inform members and others how the gender issue develops and share some stories of its progress on its website.
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Some received Views and suggestions
1. To interest girls to play golf, they need talented female role models. Vasatorp GK (in Sweden) is for me a success story. By hosting a European Tour event for ladies lots of girls in the area could watch them play, and in 10 years many of the youngsters may well compete at the same level.
2. Girls (just like guys) really appreciate to be on the golf course with their buddies. Therefore, clubs need to reach a large enough number of girls beyond just having some few girls practicing with the guys.
Dropgolf is the world's first gender neutral golf
She was on a cover of one of Golf Week's yearly editions for women. For some reason she is not hitting a ball really hard, she is just nice.
By the way, her name is Paula Creamer, and she has so far won 12 LPGA tournaments.
You often read that golf must open up to families, women, and beginners in a better way. If they want this to happen, they will have to go beyond rhetoric and reconsider their agendas and above all be open to trying new ideas and practices. To see the world more like a real-time laboratory.