Why Women Play Golf - Golfshake Survey Feedback
WE ALL know that, despite the boom the game is enjoying, club golf still faces many challenges, not the least of which is finding ways to make the game more attractive to girls and women. Thankfully, gone are the days when women were treated like second-class citizens, consigned to tee-times that nobody else wanted and, in some cases, even banned from using main clubhouse bars.
It has been a tough time, even in the professional ranks, with the Ladies European Tour on its knees until joining forces with the LPGA. Things are finally looking up, with a busy schedule, decent prize money and plenty of co-sanctioned tournaments. Hopefully, it will help to raise the profile of the game.
But those who run golf are still looking to find ways to make it more appealing and welcoming to women, increasing participation and membership numbers.
There is no doubt that gains have been made, but clearly much work still has to be done. Increasing numbers of girls and women are playing sports such as football and rugby union. Golf is a game that encourages social interaction on and off the course and it seems pretty obvious that if we can get more females to have a taste of golf the chances are that they will stick with it.
In our Winter 'How Did You Get Into Golf" Survey we wanted to know what inspired golfers to take up the sport, how they first played, and their thoughts on what's important for beginners.
A total of 150 women took part in our survey of which 85% were golf club members and 15% being unattached - 40% of the the 15% had been a golf club member before.
Female golfers, completing our survey, were much more likely to have participated in golf for the first time much later in life with just 36% having participated in golf under the age of 24 compared to 69% for the male golfers completing our survey. Additionally, 15% stated they had first participated in golf aged 25-34, 36% aged 35-54, 12% 55-64 and 2% aged over 65.
For female golfers their first golf memory was likely watching family members, golf on terrestrial/free-to-air TV or parent/guardian taking them to play. Compared to male golfers who were highly likely to have watched on terrestrial/free-to-air TV as their first memory.
Unsurprisingly, 45% of female golfers were introduced to the sport by partner/spouse, 21% by an older family member and 15% by work colleague. Men differed, with 37% introduced to golf by work colleague and 34% by an older family member.
Golf experiences for female golfers also differed slightly with 23% having their first experience in a group lesson setting, 21% visiting a driving and 17% on a pitch-and-putt or par-three course. Men are far more likely to hit the course immediately, with 31% first experiencing golf via a pitch and putt or par three, 21% heading straight to the course and 20% learning the basics at the driving range.
It also emerged that women are far less likely to take a break from the game, with 71% playing throughout their lives compared with just 48% of men.
Quite interestingly 34% of female golfers join a club immediately compared to just 21% of male golfers, for those that didn’t then female golfers were more likely to join sooner:
- Joining within 12 months - 31.2% female golfers, 11.6% male
- Joining with 1 - 2 years - 33.8% female, 18.7% male
- Joining with2 - 3 years - 10.4% to 12.4%
- Joining with3 - 4 years - 3.9% to 6.7%
- Joining withJoining with4 - 5 years - 2.6% to 6.7%
- 5+ years - 18.2% to 44%
It may not be a huge surprise to discover that the female golfers we surveyed are more likely to have a larger golfing social circle and when starting out they pointed to the importance of playing with other golfers or support from existing golfers as extremely important compared to male golfers. Additionally, regular lessons among women ranked much higher in importance than men when starting out. They also singled out the importance of learning the rules and understanding etiquette.
So how did they get into the game?
"My first boyfriend played, but I had horses at the time and thought golf would be something I would like to come back to and I did when I turned 55 and the kids had gone and I had time. Now I’m addicted."
"My dad played for England at table tennis. He took up golf late but loved it. He became captain and won many competitions. He took me for lessons but due to work and bringing up a family I could not do it justice. i have now joined a club."
"A small group,of ladies whose men all played golf got together and formed a group. Only one of them had played before. That was more than 20 years ago and we still have our group, going on holidays together, a weekend away and an outing once a month."
“I played a lot of tennis before golf and was 'sniffy' about golf, saying I would run round a tennis court while I could. One lesson and a visit to a range and I was hooked!"
"I used to play on a local pitch and putt but at end of the season they filled in the holes.My husband said, ‘OK, we are going to get you on to a golf course.’ We joined a Club and I have never been so happy. I wish I had started years ago."
“My husband was away for hours playing golf so I thought, why not give this a try? One great drive down the first fairway and I was hooked. Hubby not happy!"
“I always enjoyed watching golf and decided to have a go while on my 40th birthday cruise. They held free competitions every day as well as being able to book 30 minute slots on the simulator."
We asked what was important when starting out
"As a child it was a fun holiday activity with family. When restarting as an adult, social activity with friends which quickly turned into a competitive sport filling the gap left when retiring from competitive rowing."
"To enjoy being out in the fresh air and trying something new."
"Playing with my husband and beating him at his game. And being the best I can be."
"Having someone to help with rules and swing problems."
"Lessons in a group and having similar ability people to play with."
"Finding people to play with. Feeling relaxed and comfortable with those people. No pressure. Emphasis on learning and fun."
“Being encouraged by other ladies and learning from other players. Being patient as golf is one of the hardest sports i have done. I swim and play badminton to a very good standard but found golf one week good next week bad."
We probably shouldn’t be surprised that so many women decide to take up the game because of the amount of time their husbands were away from home playing the game and providing something they can do together.
"It was an activity that both my husband and I could do together and we were both of a similar level of expertise. My husband also played tennis but he was so good it put me off playing with him."
“A joint sport with my spouse - and anyway always thought I would take up golf at some point after other more energetic sports. Also new social circle.
"To learn a new sport that I could enjoy playing with my husband. Having two girl friends who started at the same time helped as we were not embarrassed to play and learn together. A new golfer playing with experienced golfers can find it very intimidating. Even after 20 years of playing and with a handicap of 15 I still get nervous when playing with/against lower handicappers."
We asked what was important for anyone taking up golf for the first time?
"Either someone with a lot of patience to teach you or some golf lessons."
"Having a frined to play with - someone a bit like me. It is quite difficult for girls - sometimes there may only be one in a club."
"Get some lessons with a pro as your well-meaning friends can give you bad advice and pass on their bad habits."
“Learn course etiquette and rules."
"Easy access to book and play golf with others. Participation from the pro re lessons, access to course. Learning rules and etiquette in a non judgemental environment."
"It depends on the individual. Most women feel they need to have someone or several people to play with for a while before they are happy to play with others whereas many men feel they can get stuck into competitions etc straight away. I played socially with friends and colleagues as a beginner for a good while before joining a club. The club I joined was very friendly and I have made life-long friends with whom I play golf regularly and social with."
"Having experienced golfers who let you join them and share their insights such as rules, what you need to learn to get out of that place etc and being friendly."
"Having someone to play with who would not judge your level. Giiving you encouragement and teaching you golf etiquette and simple rules."
"It’s a great outdoor social activity and helps keep you fit. It is essential to have lessons, preferably group lessons to meet other like-minded golfers."
"Getting lessons and professional advice about golf clubs that match one’s swing speed. The greatest mistake made is to just hand a female golfer some “ladies” golf clubs. Lots of women need regular shafts - ex-tennis/hockey etc players are one such group."
"Go to a driving range and try and hit a few balls. You will know immediately whether you love it or hate it."
"To have a course of lessons ideally in a group, play with others and make sure they have the right equipment."
"Having a good friend to play with. Golf clubs are full of cliques and can be difficult to break into unless you are very good."
"Support system in clubs to bridge the gap between lessons and club competition to ensure beginners have the knowledge required for on the course."
"Friendly environment, practice opportunities, reasonable pricing. Having a nine-hole course to start off with is great too. Nothing worse than getting black looks and tutting from golfers on an 18-hole course when you first start out."
"Practice and build up your confidence, if you know someone you can go out and play with do that! The range is completely different to a course so get out and play as much as you can, go when it’s quiet so there is no pressure."
So there you have it. One thing that is striking is that competition does not seem to be as important for women as it can be for men. First and foremost, they want to get out in the fresh air with friends and enjoy one another’s company. They also seem to put great store in learning about etiquette.
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