Untraced golfing. Why women don't play golf?

Golf and women (1/3) - Why don’t most women play golf?

Untraced golfing. Why women don't play golf?

After we finished our interviews at the very beginning of our project, and before writing the previous blog series about “golf and millennials”, I was wondering if I should mix the insights we had from millennials and women.

Why? Because surprisingly (or not...), they were both quite similar but I didn’t want to risk missing any interesting facts. So, after the “golf & millennials” case, here is a series about “golf and women” with the same questions and the same structure as before.

All our answers came from female golfers and female non-golfers. We will go through their answers in a series of three blog articles.

1st post, we will begin to understand why most women are not interested in the sport.

2nd post, we will see why some women do play golf.

3rd post, we will consult both points of view and propose some solutions. 

To find out why some women don’t play golf, we asked them the following two questions:

 

1/ “Why don’t you play golf?” 

The answers from millennials and women for this question were quite similar. However, after a quick analysis of the insights, one specific point was coming back over and over again. I can't say I was not aware of this before but I was shocked when I realized that almost every woman was sharing the same feeling about the sport. 

Golf is perceived as a male-dominated sport and an intimidating world that doesn't do anything to attract them. Golf is considered a “boy's club” associated with a solid image of exclusion. More than a stereotype, this is, above all, a real cultural problem for women.

To understand this feeling, we did some research about the history of the sport and everything became clear. Let me sum up the story in a few words…

Everything started in the 1550s when Mary, Queen of Scots, asked for the construction of the first golf course ever, at St Andrews. (Yes... everything started with a woman! Funny huh?).

Mary was a big fan of Golf and didn’t care about all the negative comments coming from the gents population. Soon, the sport became popular. A lot of golf courses were progressively built in Scotland and then in the UK.

Unfortunately, after Queen Mary’s death, golf quickly became an elite world, associated with business, and women were slowly but surely excluded. Unfair, I know. 

Then, women had to wait until 1867 to finally rise again in golf. The first “Ladies Club” was created in St. Andrews and a woman’s presence in clubs and championships hasn’t been questioned since. 

The end. 

It’s a short story but it shows the cultural problem that has been hidden behind the sport and reported by women. Today, golf is more open than it’s ever been, but it still carries this sexist and discriminating heritage.

The sport is still seen as a man’s game even if legendary women marked the sport recently. Babe Didrickson-Zaharias, Nancy Lopez, and the Australian player Karrie Webb, truly changed the face of golf and this trend is still growing today with Anna Nordqvist, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Lydia Ko, and Michelle Wie. 

Among all the other answers we had, the majority of them were similar to the ones we had from millennials:

  • Golf is time-consuming
  • Golf is expensive and the logistics around the sport are annoying
  • Golf is slow, boring, and repetitive
  • Golf is elitist and a membership is required to play
  • Golf is difficult (rules are arduous and confusing)
  • Golf is very competitive 
  • Golf isn’t an option at school

We’ve also had some harsh answers like:

  • The outfits suck. Style and colors are awful. Which is good for us :-)
  • Most courses are built by men, for men (long distances and boring  clubhouses) and male members simply don't want their wives and children to come with them.
  • There is still a huge sexism and discrimination problem in golf. 
  • Stereotypes about women are still very common and hard to break (women only want to socialize, have a slow pace of play, don’t know the rules, and don’t know how to play...)

 Does any of this ring a bell?  

 

2/ “Why would you start playing golf one day?”

This second question was a bit tricky for our female non-players but, in most cases, their first answer was exactly the same as the one given by the millennials: "I would play golf if I had friends to play with and if I had fun on the course."

Friendship and fun.

Isn't it wild to see that, even if golf has a bad image for women and millennials, they could all easily play if their friends were coming with them? 

Apart from friendship, family was also a very popular answer. If the golf clubs were kid-friendly, most women would give golf a try.

Other repetitive answers? 

  • A flexible mode/play: possibility to play 6, 9, or 18 holes for example 
  • A friendlier atmosphere 
  • A simpler game, with no complicated rules and strict etiquette

Also, some shared answers with millennials:

  • Special coaching/programs for women to learn the game
  • Fitness, spa, and wellness infrastructure in the golf club
  • Yoga, pilates, and dance rooms aside from the golf course 
  • Tennis or squash courts aside from the golf course 
  • Club privileges for members and families
  • Other facilities for families and friends (pool, daycare for kids, restaurant or lounge bar)

Does that make sense to you? Do you agree with all of this? Do you have something to add? 

In the next article, we will study the point of view of female golf players and understand why they do play golf and their relationship with the sport. 

This story has been written from my perspective, my name is Arthur, and I am the founder of Untraced. If you have any questions or comments, I invite you to get in touch with me directly: hello@untracedgolfing.com

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