How to reap the benefits of the Ricoh Women’s British Open?

By: September 12, 2016

The Ricoh Women’s British Open will return to Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club for the fifth time in 2018. Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club is one of the most challenging of the Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open venues with 169 bunkers to challenge the players.

In 2009 the winner was Catriona Matthew. She was the first Scottish woman to win a Major title. What makes her victory even more special is the fact that it happened 11 (!!!!) weeks after giving birth to her second daughter. What a strong will!

She was a member of this summer’s UK Olympic team and was recently announced as a Vice Captain for the 2017 Solheim Cup.

LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Catriona Matthew of Scotland holds the trophy aloft following her victory at the end of the final round of the 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open Championship held at Royal Lytham St Annes Golf Club, on August 2, 2009 in Lytham St Annes, England. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Catriona Matthew

How could the Ricoh Women’s British Open help to grow the game?

We have to find solutions how could we capture the imagination and attention of the latent or would-be golf fans. It is very good that the NBC Sports Group is broadcasting again the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Final round coverage of the Ricoh Women’s British Open in July 2016, earned a 0.64 final rating and 858,000 viewers on NBC Sunday morning, up 200% in ratings and 142% in viewership from last year (0.2, 354K) and up 200% and 234%, respectively, from 2014 (0.2, 257K). Coverage aired on ESPN2 in both of those years.

This was the most viewed Women’s British Open since 2009. The Ricoh Women’s British Open in July, attracted, even more, viewers than the Women’s PGA Championship in June: 829,000.

How could we keep up the interest in golf for the coming years?

We should worry because women’s participation in the UK is one of the lowest in Europe (12%). There are only 98,000 females who are currently members of golf clubs in England. My first thought is that the organizers of the Ricoh Women’s British Open, should involve, and cooperate with such organizations like Sport England (#ThisGirlGolfs campaign ). The #ThisGirlGolfs campaign motivated 1.6 million women in the UK in 2015, to start practicing golf.

Or in the US, with organizations like the NextGenGolf (today part of The National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA)). Their original idea was to come up with affordable golf club membership program for people between age 18-34. Today, they are focusing on making golf more relevant to young adults.

Between two Ricoh Women’s British Opens should be a continuous communication between the fans, the “wanna-be” golfers and the organizers. This might sound like a “post-purchase program” of a service provider, but this should not deter neither the organizers nor golf clubs and golf organizations:

  1. Welcome” eDM: thanking them for coming to the event + show them where they can find golf clubs with female PGA Pros (if this is her preference) and golf academy.
  2. Cross-sell: give fans golf lessons for a special price at partner golf clubs and golf academies (maybe also at TopGolf) etc.
  3. Upsell: selling next year’s ticket with PGA Pro lessons
  4. Upgrade: sell tickets for VIP seats, or golf club membership
  5. “Win-back”: during the time together as we get to know each other we will find out what are their motives. Based on the findings, we should offer them something really compelling.

We should not underestimate the importance of social media usage to keep up the buzz and the conversation with people about golf and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram).

LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Natalie Gulbis of USA hits her approach to the 18th green during the first round of the 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open Championship held at Royal Lytham St Annes Golf Club, on July 30, 2009 in Lytham St Annes, England. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Natalie Gulbis