There are a host of reasons why it is important for golf clubs to target women and junior golfers when promoting the game and their business. The most obvious is the potential financial benefits women and juniors can bring to clubs but attracting new blood is also essential for maintaining the future strength and competitiveness of the sport.
The need for focused marketing
Research by market research firm GfK shows that young people do have an underlying interest in golf which should make them an important demographic for golf club marketers. Meanwhile the NGF annual golf participation report 2013 showed a decrease in male golfers in the US but an increase in female golfers – a trend that is reflected across developed western nations.
Another reason to focus on women and juniors is to combat the perception that golf and golf courses are out of touch with modern society or that they promote inequality. As the LPGA pointed out while commenting on the recent acceptance of women members by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, greater inclusion of women also helps to ‘better capture the current diversity and inclusiveness of golf’.
Finally, it is important not only to keep promoting golf but to ensure that talent is nurtured and recruited among women and young people. As sports Minister Helen Grant has pointed out ‘with golf in the next Olympics there is a huge opportunity for the sport to grow’.
How golf clubs can attract more women players
Golf clubs have used a variety of tactics to try and improve their chances of attracting new female members. Firstly, clubs have made sure that there are more women in head and coaching positions. Secondly, they have tried to make golf easier and more fun in order to attract women – an example initiative to improve accessibility is the ‘Get Golf Ready Programme’ which offers the opportunity to learn golf in five affordable lessons. Forward tees on golf courses can also be made shorter for women learners and more forgiving hazards can be created for less experienced golfers.
Finally, golf clubs should work on the basics by making sure that their facilities are advertised to target and appeal to women. This could just mean making a few simple changes to marketing materials such as using pictures of female golfers or substituting the word ‘men’ for ‘women’ to promote the idea that their club is a female friendly one.
How golf clubs can attract more junior players
The most important factor for attracting more junior players to golf clubs is the creation of a relaxed atmosphere and supportive environment for young people according to Gaudet Luce Golf Club’s Operations Manager, Rob Laing. Gaudet Luce Golf Club in Worcestershire has successfully increased its number of junior members by the implementation of its own youth development programme.
Research conducted by GfK showed that while young people had an interest in golf they often feel unease and out of place in a golf club environment. The general perception about golf clubs is that they are a place for older men rather than for young people. In addition, Simon Elsworth, Head of Turf and Landscape EAME, commenting on the findings of the study The Opportunity to Grow Golf: Youth Participation in 2014, said that to increase youth participation ‘young people need fast-track learning, affordable play, shorter courses and flexible facilities where they feel welcome and happy’.