A new report reveals a worldwide desire to try golf among females – a potential with the power to revitalise an industry. So if women want to play golf, why aren’t they? And could a ground-breaking women-only coaching scheme be the solution?
To an industry fed up with hearing stories of how golf is in a state of terminal decline, last December’s report into The Global Economic Value of Increased Female Participation in Golf represented a welcome spark of optimism.
Commissioned by Syngenta, leaders in the turf control industry, the report opened up a new narrative of potential, progress and positivity. For while women today represent only 24% of the world’s golfers, surveys of 14,000 people in eight prominent golf markets revealed a massive latent demand to play the game among females.
Not only this, it was also discovered that female golfers are 38% more likely than males to bring their children to the club with them. This represents an intriguing opportunity for clubs to rejuvenate their membership demographic.
Clearly, any club unlocking this demand could make great headway in its quest to run as a sustainable and profitable business. The question for the golf industry to address is why that demand remains dormant… and what can be done to wake it up.
The Global Economic Value of Increased Female Participation in Golf also advises on why females are not acting on their desire to play golf. Many are lost to golf simply because they cannot find a suitable access point to the game. Surveys show females are routinely turned off by the ‘all-or-nothing’ nature of club membership, the cost and time commitments involved at odds with entering a game and environment they are not sure how much they’ll enjoy.
love.golf: driving female participation
When non-playing females were asked what would encourage them to try the game, a clear picture emerged of easily accessible, pressure-free and affordable female-focussed sessions.
Sygenta representative Caroline Carrroll (2nd right) receiving EGCOA Contribution Award 2017
The great news for golf clubs is that such sessions are already available… and that they are delivering superb retention results. Supported by Syngenta as part of the company’s mission to Unlock Golf’s True Potential, love.golf was launched in 2015 to offer a more attractive entry point into the game for females. Though its conception predated the The Global Economic Value of Increased Female Participation in Golf by almost two years, love.golf’s theories and practices perfectly address the needs and concerns expressed by potential female golfers in the report.
“Through experience, we were aware that many women felt uncomfortable with the traditional one-on-one lesson with the club pro,” says love.golf’s head coach Alastair Spink. “Also, they typically found technical coaching on the range to be ineffective and unenjoyable.
“love.golf takes a different approach. We assemble female-only groups of similar ability and get out on the golf course at the earliest opportunity; and through playing the game, the emphasis shifts from teaching to learning. There are no dress codes or formalities, just a group of women who support each other. The coach is repositioned as a facilitator and it’s been incredible to see the difference this relaxed and social environment makes.”
To date, Spink has introduced more than 350 women to his golf club, Fynn Valley in Suffolk, though the love.golf coaching. With Syngenta’s support, this ground-breaking programme was rolled out to 25 UK and five Swedish golf clubs in 2016, where an incredible 90% of participants signed up for further coaching.
Any golf facility wishing to become love.golf-accredited will benefit from Syngenta’s comprehensive support structure, tailored to help club and coach reach this latent demand. Full training and education in love.golf is provided, supplemented by workshops and monthly webinars, covering topics from coaching methods to advice on how to use social media to market yourself and the scheme to the local community.
love.golf’s first Coaching Conference, staged last December, represents another layer of the support system. Led by Spink and attended by Syngenta ambassador and former Solheim Cup captain Carin Koch, the conference brought love.golf coaches together for the first time, allowing them to share knowledge and best practice.
“The idea was to show love.golf coaches how to increase revenue and add value to the club, but also to show them they are not working alone but as part of a mutually supportive community,” Spink explains. “These coaches were individuals when they arrived but they went home part of a team. It allows them to grow with the project, which is great for the strength of love.golf moving forward.”
“love.golf is such a good opportunity to get more women into golf, and it’s great to see how it’s taking off,” says Carin Koch. “Being a golf coach can be quite lonely – you are coaching in your own little world – but the scheme’s support structure allows a whole community of coaches to come together and learn from each other’s experiences. Advice on aspects like social media and marketing are important as it helps the coach set up communities on Facebook or Instagram, allowing their group to keep interacting and to get new people involved.”
- To watch a video of the first love.golf coaching conference, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3jXJexGqL4
- For more information about love.golf or to find out about introducing love.golf at your club, visit www.love.golf or contact Alastair Spink at firstname.lastname@example.org call 07748 653002.
- To download a free copy of Syngenta’s market report ‘The Global Economic Value of Increased Female Participation in Golf’, visit: www.unlockinggolfstruepotential.co.uk