The game of golf more than most sports overflows with various reports and analysis of how to grow player participation. Women & Golf felt it was time to carry out its own survey to generate more clarity on this key area...

Women & Golf commissioned SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC to conduct a detailed research into British golfers in an effort to try and understand what if anything was wrong with the game and attitudes of the converted club members. The survey involved over 3,000 participants.


Words: Alison Root

One of the surprising findings of the survey reveals that male golfers could be a key stimulus in increasing female participation as the top reason female golfers initially take up the game is because a husband or partner plays. Yet the conclusions show that over three quarters of male golfers who have a wife or partner say that this companion does not play golf, thus presenting a great opportunity to the golf industry to embrace these golfers to grow the game.

At least the majority of male and female golfers agree on one thing - that single sex clubs should be banned, citing how they are out of sync with modern society. Golf, according to these respondents, should reflect the progress made in terms of equality in everyday modern life, rather than a worldview that they consider ‘archaic’, ‘anachronistic’ and ‘discriminatory’.

Saying something and acting upon it is totally different. Less than half of these same men have tried to introduce their female partners to the game and only a quarter, including those who already do so, are interested in playing casual golf with women in the future.

In general, golf clubs are still largely male dominated and let’s be honest, for a long time the majority of men have been happy for them to remain this way. Of course, there could be a number of reasons why women don’t play golf including work or family commitments, or perhaps they’re genuinely not interested, but I suspect that most have never been given an opportunity to play or encouraged to do so.

[caption id="attachment_14969" align="alignnone" width="624"]Women & Golf magazine, women & golf survey results Women & Golf Survey Results Revealed[/caption]

With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that over half of men who have sons say that their son(s) play golf, whereas just 12% of men who have daughters, say that their daughter(s) play. If these men don’t encourage their female partner to play, they’re hardly going to encourage a daughter.

Without wanting to sound condescending, men need to be educated and understand that women and girls’ golf really does exist and actually if they change their mind-set, they might even enjoy mixed golf!

Male attitudes in continental Europe are totally different and that’s because male prejudices across have never been there in the first place, whereas the UK has struggled to shake off the steeped traditions aligned to a male dominated game. In most other European countries golfers join as a family and more often than not, they play golf as a family, hence why countries like Germany and Sweden have a high percentage of female players.

Some six months ago at an industry lunch at The Open at Hoylake, SMS INC emphasised ‘the importance of the ‘three F’s’ – Fun, Flexible, and Family’ and this in-depth research fully supports that recommendation.

This research also clearly demonstrates that the industry must utilise its current male golfers to encourage the women in their life into the game. Equally, clubs must emphasise the inclusive familial nature of the sport to help it develop and grow female participation.

The key findings of the W&G survey are:

Female Golfers’ Attitudes
  • 48% initially took up the game because a husband or partner played
  • 27% feel that they are treated poorly by male golfers
  • 44% feel the same about their treatment from golf retailers and 34% feel this way about golf equipment brands
  • 47% play the sport casually with male players at least once a month. However, this drops to 23% who play competitive mixed golf and 6% who play individual competitions with male golfers.
  • More than half consider themselves interested in playing competitive golf with men.
  • 81% believe single sex golf clubs should be banned.
  • On average, more interested in male major championships than female major championships. Similarly, the Ryder Cup is considered more interesting than the Solheim Cup. However, at amateur level, the Curtis Cup is considered slightly more interesting to female golfers than the Walker Cup
  • More likely to name a male player first as their favourite golfer
Male Golfers’ Attitudes
  • 78% who have a wife or partner say that this companion does not play golf
  • 51% who have sons say that their son(s) play golf. By contrast, just 12% who have daughters say that their daughter(s) play golf.
  • Less than half with wives or partners who do not currently play golf have tried to introduce them to the game. (44%). The same is true of 31% of men with daughters who do not currently play.
  • 15% play casual golf with female players at least monthly. Fewer than one in ten male golfers plays competitive golf with female golfers once a month.
  • Only a quarter, including those who already do so, are interested or very interested in playing casual golf with female golfers in the future.
  • 28% are interested in playing competitive golf with female golfers whilst slightly fewer are interested in playing individual competitions with female golfers.
  • 49% believe golf clubs should reserve blocks of tee times for male only or female only roll ups.
  • A majority (69%) believe that single sex golf clubs should be prohibited, albeit a slightly smaller majority than among females.

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