Today is Women’s Golf Day (WGD), an international event whereby participating golfclubs give women and girls a one-day golf taster experience to encourage more women to take up the game. Another women's day I hear you say. Why is it needed when we already have an International Girls and Women in Sports Day? Well, Golf is still perceived as a sport for older, middle-class, white males and women are underrepresented, more than in other sports. There is a lot more that can be done for women’s golf and for years golf clubs have looked for ways to engage women in the sport. Globally, only a quarter of golf members are female with some variability from country to country (in Canada, women account for 30 % of the golfing population compared to 15% in the UK).
There is a huge opportunity for golf clubs to increase their female membership. According to Syngenta, 29% of female non-golfers or lapsed golfers are interested in taking up the sport.
WGD has been set up worldwide to get more women taking up the sport. It has been a success in its first year in 2016 with 484 Golfclubs worldwide having signed up. Participation has increased by 68% in 2017 with 711 locations in 46 countries. It is clear that the event is a success and women are coming together for the day to get introduced to the sport. Although there is no data on the conversion rates from this day into golf memberships, similar national initiatives have rexulted in high conversion rates. For example, in the UK national initiatives have seen a conversion rate of 60 % in 2015 (according to England Golf and the Golf Union of Wales).
These data are encouraging but it has to be seen in the context of many golfers, men and women, leaving the sport. Getting women and girls take up golf and to retain them long term requires a multifaceted strategy. Giving golf the right publicity is very important, portraying it as a great sport, which brings people together and combines social interaction with physical exercise and mental challenge. However at the same time it is also important that known challenges are addressed such as cost and time.
How you might ask? Firstly, this year the new rules will come into force which are expected to help to speed up the game by simplifying some of the rules. However simplifying the rules can only do so much to reduce the time it takes to play a round of golf. Time is really an issue in this fast paced world, especially for women who often juggle family life and their professional life. More could be done to promote shorter rounds of 6, 9 or 12 holes with green fee and membership fees reflecting these. This would also reduce the costs of golf, which is another often cited reason for not taking up or continuing the sport, for women or men alike. Finally, Golf should be promoted as a family sport so that any time it takes to play golf is not time taken away from the family, but rather time spent with the family.
Let’s make golf more appealing and accessible for everyone, let's get our girlfriends who are interested in golf but always thought it was not for them come out and try it. Come and visit a participating club near you - happy WGD!