(PGA Magazine - March 2004)
Trends in Women's Golf ... A More Welcoming Industry
by Nancy Berkley
Positive Trends for Women's Golf:
The current environment for growing women's golf is very favorable.
The number of women "golfers" (18+ ages) is growing – faster than male golfers.
Women golfers increased 14% in 2003 over 2002. Men increased only 2%.
Women increased from 22% of all golfers to 24%.
(A “golfer” plays at least one regulation round in previous 12 months)
The number of women "participants" (5+ ages) is also growing.
Women participants increased 13% in 2003 over 2002. Men did not change.
(A “participant” includes those who play at ranges and short courses)
The percentage of girls (ages 5-17) in junior golf is up.
Girl-golfers increased 13% in 2003 over 2002. Boys increased 6%.
Attendance at LPGA events is significantly up.
Title IX (1978 Federal legislation that established equal female sport opportunities in schools and colleges)has changed the generation – girls play sports; daughters can golf.
Golf's "value-proposition" that "golf is good" for working women (career and friends) is holding up.
Baby-boomers are retiring and will have more free-time for leisure ... and golf.
NGCOA "Take Your Daughter to the Course" attendance is increasing sharply.
Golf appears less traditional and male-dominated and
More golf advertisements include or specifically target women.
More broad-market consumer ads and events feature or target women golfers.
Industry Public Service Announcements include women and girls (a good example are the First Tee ads and the PGA Play Golf America ad campaign).
Industry publications include more information about women golfers.
More professionals and managers are younger and less tradition-bound.
More "how-to-market-to-women" programs are offered.
More recognition for women's golf among the major golf industry associations. Examples:
"Welcoming Women" March cover story -- a first for PGA Magazine, and Golf 20/20 includes women's golf in programs.
Ball-striking is getting easier for women -- better equipment and teaching.
Course Design is more women-friendly (including restorations).
Momentum is building for women's golf – and a "don't get left behind” message is emerging.
But, There are Challenging Trends:
Although the total number of women golfers is growing, the "occasional" (1-7 rounds/yr) women-golfer category is growing the fastest. (NGF stats)
Occasional W Golfers 62% 53%
Core W Golfers (8-24) 21% 24%
Avid W Golfers (25+) 16% 23%
Half of Occasional Women Golfers play 2 or less rounds/year.
The "time-barrier" for women is real – shorter golf options are helpful.
Gen-X-ers want "family" time – "family golf" is still new and few.
The Why Golf? value proposition for women (other than career-oriented women) is unclear. The value of golf for women requires more clarification and reinforcement at all levels.
Implementing and broadcasting the value proposition requires a coordinated industry effort to be most effective but the industry remains fragmented.
99% of the golf industry staff is male. "How to Think like a woman golfer" needs to be a more prominent element in education and training.
Still not enough "buy-in" that women are good customers.
More economic data needed to reinforce the return on investment.
More "marketing and sales" education needed.
More commitment from industry associations needed.
The women's fan base is stable to growing but few initiatives (other than LPGA fans-first) focus on transition from female fan to female participant to female golfer -- while growing fan base as well. An opportunity exists for the PGA Tour to take a leadership role in growing women's golf to preserve and grow the total fan base for the game.
The view remains that this is a "zero-sum" game – if we grow women, we lose the core men.
The basic challenge is to understand that we must grow the TOTAL number of golfers – by millions of golfers – and that growing women's golf will not shrink other segments.
A rising tide lifts all boats!