Why Don’t More Women Play Golf? – Two Women Golfers Have Some Answers
By Faith Zwemke and Kathryn Gainey
The June 2013 issue of Golf Digest got us steamed! In Bob Carney’s article, “Why Golf Needs to Change,” he states: “Women still don’t seem that interested, despite years of trying to recruit them.” This statement seems to suggest women are a hopeless case when it comes to getting them interested in playing golf; but as we see it, the real problem is with the approach to getting women interested in golf and how they are treated once they start to play. We love golf, and neither one of us ever remembers any attempt at being “recruited,” so recruitment efforts must not be too intense. We both had an interest in golf as teenagers, but we didn’t start playing avidly until we were in our 50’s. Perhaps we could provide a few suggestions, from a woman’s perspective, about recruiting the huge untapped market of woman golfers.
One of the biggest problems in “recruiting” women is the notion of trying to convince them to play a male-dominated sport that does little to attract or accommodate them. Just for starters, when was the last time anyone did a comprehensive survey of women by asking them why they don’t play or what might encourage them to play? As frequent golfers on many different courses using our Minnesota Golf Card, we conducted our own walking survey by asking women these questions.
Here are some suggestions from past, present and future women golfers:
Do not pair women with men. When courses take requests for tee-times, they should note the gender of the players. Every time we call for a tee-time we say, “We are two women and we don’t want to be paired up with men,” and the response is, “Uh, sorry, we don’t know who is male or female.”
We have opted not to play when we know that the likelihood of getting paired up with men is high. On one occasion when we said we just don’t do well paired with men, the male attendant said, “Well then you should find somewhere else to play.”
While we would not concede that women are “slow” players, we would contend that men are frequently “hurried” players. Since most courses are “male friendly” in terms of distance, women will often be “behind” and when this happens, it doesn’t take long before the women get the sense, or even are told in one way or another, that they are holding up play.
One last example has to do with putting. We have observed that often men do not tap in a putt that’s within a few inches of the hole. They just scoop it up and move on. The man we were paired with didn’t bother to ask us, he just proceeded to pick up either of our balls if it was near the hole. We were robbed of hearing that beautiful “ker-plunk.”
If you offer a good deal, they will come. Since the wage gap between men and women has not disappeared, women simply have less money to spend. In addition, the practice of conducting “business” on the golf course is a corporate perk enjoyed largely by males who golf on the company dime. This rarely happens for women because so few have cracked the glass ceiling, and of those, many do not play golf. A tried and true practice in business and entertainment is to “fill the seats” or “move a product,” by offering bargains or specials. More incentives would reflect the golf industry’s understanding of the earning gap and go a long way to fill more rounds. While we would not expect courses to shave their high-value and frequently sold out weekend slots, why not offer some bargains on weekdays to women? Bars have ladies nights. Golf courses could have a few non-league weekday mornings or afternoons with deeply discounted green fees along with a discounted rental on WOMEN’S clubs.
Give some free lessons by WOMEN and free use of WOMEN’S equipment. As we all know, golf can be very frustrating. A good introduction to the game and the use of the right