lyne@consultinggolf.com.au

The Field of Play - Women and Senior Golfers

My Perspective

The golf industry questions why women's participation is falling yet the on-course challenges experienced by the typical female golfer remain poorly understood, under-discussed and largely unacknowledged. For hundreds of years golf courses have been designed primarily for athletic men. The playability needs of women and increasing numbers of senior golfers are mostly overlooked. To retain and grow the female market such a perspective must broaden.

To understand the absence of growth in women’s golf we need to understand the playing challenges the typical female golfer encounters on the course.

Research tells us that most golfers leave the game for two key reasons - it takes too long to play and the game is not fun. This need not be the case. I would like to encourage the golf industry to improve awareness of the needs of both women and senior golfers. We need to influence thinking in respect to course set-up for these players and to educate clubs on the benefits of flexibility and variety in course length.

To move forward we must look beyond traditional attitudes, penal design, and the influential voice of the accomplished player - we must consider the needs of all participants. The average woman golfer holds a handicap in the high twenties, carries her drive around 130 metres and plays a layout that is much too long to be enjoyable. With a game of driver, fairway-wood/hybrid she rarely uses her mid-irons and often cannot reach par 3's from the tee. Not much fun there!

Wouldn't these golfers enjoy the game more if they had a more positive relationship with the golf course? Reducing the course yardage for short hitters equals fewer shots and a quicker round. Golfers respond to an inspired course setup and the opportunity to delight in a more engaging and enjoyable round of golf - shorter hitters are no exception.

So what can we do?

Accomplished players are provided tees to play a course as it was intended by the designer - why not adapt this thinking to fit the needs of short hitters?

Women golfers mostly hit from tees that have been placed as an afterthought, with little understanding of her game. Seniors in Australia often play the same tees as the younger, more agile set. To retain - or capture - these golfers, we need to consider their on-course experience and provide tees set at an interesting and manageable yardage.

Golf is not only a competitive sport and recreational pursuit; it is a business that affects communities on many levels. It is increasingly apparent that clubs must embrace change to ensure their survival. A club model in touch with market needs that addresses playability for women and senior golfers, will reap the benefits of improved participation rates and increased viability.

If you are a forward thinking club and seek a golf experience that is flexible and fun for a broad range of players, meeting the needs of accomplished players and also women, seniors and new golfers, please contact me at lyne@consultinggolf.com.

With thoughtful and effective design we can initiate positive change, encourage participation and bring increased enjoyment to many.

Lyne Morrison