The Uk's biggest golf course operator Crown Golf is looking to convince more women to give golf a try, at this week’s Ideal Home Show At Christmas.
Its flyer ‘8 Reasons Why Women Should Play Golf’ will be distributed at the show, which runs from 13th-17th November at Earls Court in London.
The flyer invites women to visit a Crown Golf club for a free trial golf lesson called ‘Start To Play’, and directs them to fill in an enquiry form at a new website www.starttoplay.co.uk/womenandgolf.
Among the 8 Reasons identified by the company are Exercise, Socialising, Clothing, Learning & Competing and Travel.
“The average golfer can burn 1500 calories playing 18 holes of golf” said Hannah Baker, Crown Golf Marketing Manager. “That fact alone strikes a chord with many potential female golfers, and the health message is one of the two biggest draws we have in this sport. The other – golf’s social aspects – is the other most frequently-quoted reason why more and more women are taking up golf.
“Our flyer also talks how there are 35,000 golf courses to be discovered in the world; about the great fashions which female golfers enjoy wearing; and also how the sporting aspects of golf can provide great satisfaction, among other things.”
Although there are over 3,000 golf clubs in the UK, currently less than one in seven of the country’s golfers are female.
Jo Oliver, former Ladies European Tour player and currently PGA Professional at Chesfield Downs G&CC in Hertfordshire, says: "There are millions of potential female golfers out there, waiting to be inspired. It works best when a small group of friends starts learning to play golf together - that creates good momentum and they spur each other on to improve. Like riding a bike or swimming, hitting a golf ball is a skill for life which you never forget, and I have taught women as old as 84, and as young as six here at the club.
"Even if time is short, female golfers are very good at dropping down to play nine holes, or perhaps teaming up for an hour's golf on our par three course. There is always coffee and laughter afterwards, and most women find that the social element of golf is almost as much fun as the actual playing part. Our Monday afternoon ladies' group clinic includes a free coffee voucher, and it's always well-attended."
Most Crown Golf clubs have a higher-than-average percentage of lady members; some clubs such as Milford and St Mellion have a female membership of almost 25%, approaching twice the national average. At other clubs such as Mill Green, Chesfield Downs, Batchworth Park and South Winchester, almost one in five members are female.
Crown Golf Lady Captains Linda Miles, Elaine Marshall and Linda Clark give revealing insights into why they think their club attracts a high number of female golfers.
“People can sense the atmosphere as soon as they walk into a club” said Linda Clark, 2013 Lady Captain at Mill Green GC. “People hear that our club is genuinely friendly and barrier-free, and they come to investigate.
“They find we have a structured approach to introducing new ladies, and we look after them personally with everything from handicaps and learning the game, to finding partners and entering events. We also have a par three course, which helps female beginners to build up confidence, and there’s a very active social life here with lots of visits from other clubs’ ladies sections.”
“Our female members appreciate the number of events we run for them” says 2013 St Mellion International Resort Lady Captain, Elaine Marshall. “We have a very active ladies’ calendar, from social 9-holers to the big events. We hold ladies’ events at the weekends too, as many of our members have full-time jobs. Our new Pro, Jason Avery, has been very proactive and successful in helping our ladies lower their handicaps, and we make sure that our communications to female members are regular and comprehensive.”
New golfer Samantha Gibb, 28, from Southampton, says: “I tried golf when I was invited to a ladies’ beginner golf day. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I’m never one to turn down a day out with the girls! I was really surprised at how much fun we all had.
“The last thing I expected was that I’d gain a new hobby, and end up playing twice a week with my own brand new set of golf clubs! But I’m hooked.”
Milford GC 2013 Lady Captain Linda Miles says: “When I joined 13 years ago, I was made to feel very welcome. There was always someone willing to stop what they were doing, and help me. We also have a female General Manager, Rebecca Prout, and she and her staff are friendly, familiar faces who do a lot to encourage women’s golf at Milford.
“Word quickly spreads locally that a golf club is good for ladies – and even more quickly when a club isn’t!”