Revealing as the accompanying experiment by LPGA Tour player Kim Hall is, it has a sample size of only five: one for each of the characters she portrayed. What would a larger group of women golfers say is the state of women's golf in 2012? To find out, we surveyed 1,800 members of the Executive Women's Golf Association. Our participants are avid golfers from all areas of the country. More than half of them play more than 50 rounds per year, and 24 percent log more than 75 rounds. Two-thirds are public golfers, and the majority play most of their golf with other women. Their average 18-hole score: 98. Here are their responses to our questions.
How often do you go out as a single or twosome and get paired with strangers?
Up to 25 percent of the time: 61.9%
26 to 50 percent of the time: 17.2%
More than half the time: 7.7%
When you play with strangers, do you feel welcome?
Most of the time: 63.8%
Roughly half the time: 15.0%
Rarely or never: 2.0%
When you play with men you don't know, how often do they express unhappiness at the pairing, either openly or poorly veiled?
Often: 13.5% All the time: 1.5%
If you surprise the men in your group with your good play, which best describes their reaction?
They're great, and encouraging: 58.1%
They get a little defensive: 19.1%
They get a little too impressed, which is condescending: 11.8%
None of the above: 11.0%
On average, how often do you feel rushed during a round?
Once or twice: 60.8%
Every few holes: 15.2%
I'm always rushing:4.1%
How often do other groups ask to play through?
A handful of times per season: 47.0%
Every few rounds: 2.3%
Every round: 0.1%
Do course staff and rangers treat you the same way they treat men?
How often do men forget to stop the cart by the forward tees to wait for you to hit?
Every few rounds: 44.0%
Every few holes: 14.2%
On every hole: 1.5%
How frequently do you receive unsolicited swing advice from male golfers you know?
Every few rounds or visits to the range: 39.7%
Almost every time I play: 10.0%
How frequently do you receive unsolicited swing advice by male golfers you don't know?
Every few rounds or visits to the range: 28.4%
Almost every time I play: 3.5%
Do you feel you get equal service in golf stores?
Yes, most of the time: 51.6%
Only once in a while: 24.3%
Yes, always: 17.8%
No, never: 6.3%
In closing, we asked our participants what they'd like to change about the way women are treated in golf. Their responses ranged from gripes about locker rooms ("Men's locker rooms are almost always twice the size, and much nicer") and unfair tee placements ("The forward tee boxes should not be an afterthought but an integral part of each hole's creation and setup") to being recognized for their efficiency ("Starters and rangers should not assume that women are slow--at most courses I play, women are held up by men, and the men will not offer to let us play through") and skills ("Sometimes it seems like the men feel they're much better players because we play from the forward tees"). Most of all, these women are looking for one thing: equality ("I would like to feel like I'm as important as my spouse at our club"). As participant Johanna Young of Charlotte says: "The golf course is still a man's world."