How to entice women to our golf courses?

By: Rich O’Brien October 5, 2015

My new guest writer is Rich O’Brien. Rich is a columnist for the Charleston Golf News where he writes a Grow the Game column and a Golf Therapy Column.  He is also a sport psychologist and adaptive golf instructor, he serves as the Program Administrator for the PGA HOPE Chapter in Charleston, SC.

In his coming posts he will share with us how to attract/entice more women to our golf courses. Of course, he will highlight the business benefits of increasing the number of female golfers in our golf courses. So here are his thoughts:

I regularly interview leaders from the major golf organizations and we discuss a topic that is near and dear to my heart, growing the game of golf. I recently had the opportunity to interview both Sandy Cross and Suzy Whaley from the PGA of America on what is being done to grow participation among women.


In an era when overall participation in golf across the United States has been flat, the golf industry is looking to women as an area where the game of golf can grow. For many decades, the golf industry was unable to connect with female golfers.

The Connecting to Her study led by Cross suggested that the golf courses needed to look at their operation through a feminine lens in order for more women to feel welcome at the course.

According to the National Golf Foundation, female golfers are the fastest growing segment of participation in the United States with 5.3 million players, including 260,000 women who started playing golf in the past year.  Women now represent 21.5% of the all players and account for 19% of all golf sales.

Women on golf course

Women under the age of 40 are increasingly using golf as a valuable business resource, according to research by the NGF. However, many women still consider entry into the game to be a daunting task.  Millions of women want to play the game, but would like an invitation to the game.

The recommendations by Cross and Whaley, by and large, boiled down to female golfers taking an active role in inviting their friends to play golf. In fact, every player should encourage new players to follow one of the on ramps to entry in the game such as Get Golf Ready and the Golf For website.

Another important consideration is that women also are the key to the next generation of golfers because she controls the budget and sets the schedule. As a former membership director, I was keenly aware of this fact because it was usually the woman that determined whether or not the family purchase a membership and which type of membership was purchased.

Keeping that in mind, I always did my best to keep the woman and kids active, because if they were not, the value of the family membership was greatly diminished, downgraded or discontinued altogether.

Research by Golf Datatech is clear, serious female golfers are a vital part of golf’s future and represent a robust segment of the game.  Failing to connect to women can have grave economic consequences for clubs. In my next segment, I will discuss what courses can do to connect with women and increase revenues by better serving the robust female golf segment.

Women’s Golf

  • Women make up more than 21.5% of the estimated 24.7 million golfers in the U.S. and approximately 19% of all golf sales nationally.*
  • 260,000 women took up the game in 2013.*
  • In 2013, there were 3 million junior golfers, including 818,000 girls (ages 6-17).*
  • Women golfers under the age of 40 are more likely to use golf as a valuable business resource.*
  • Of these, the three most positive attributes of the game, 90 percent of serious female golfers cited general health/fitness benefits, 80% cited the challenge and competition of golf and 70% cited the social interactions of playing the game with family/friends.**

Get Golf Ready

  • Get Golf Ready, now in its 7th year, is designed to bring adults into the game in a fast, fun, affordable manner.
  • Get Golf Ready offers 5 lessons that concentrate on basic skills, instruction and information on the Rules of Golf, etiquette and values. Participants will learn techniques regarding chipping and putting, full swing and bunker play, as well as the fundamental guidelines of use and maintenance of golf equipment, keeping score and navigating the course. Many facilities offer the program starting at an affordable $99, although price varies by facility.
  • In 2014, a record number of 98,919 students participated in Get Golf Ready programs, a 15% increase from 2013 student participation (85,677).
  • 62% were women
  • 21% were people of multicultural backgrounds
  • Nearly 360,000 students have participated in Get Golf Ready programs during the last six years.
  • In 2014, 98% of participants said that Get Golf Ready met or exceeded their expectations.
  • Get Golf Ready player retention continues to grow as well: 86% of 2014 Get Golf Ready participants still practice and play, up from 79 percent in 2013.
  • Consumers can learn more about the program and find a local participating facility at


*National Golf Foundation (NGF)

**Golf Datatech

***Photos are from: (comics);