The unfortunate reality is that if you’re a woman at a golf course, you’re in the minority. The ratio is better than it’s been, but there are still oversights at many golf courses that affect women especially—to the point that we can end up feeling like an afterthought. A lot of that is due to golf's history of being male-dominated, but we're far enough along where the message to women when they show up at a golf course should be, "We want you here." These are some things at golf courses that give off that message and that we appreciate seeing:
A dress code that doesn’t limit you to pants or knee-length shorts.
There are few experiences more excruciating than showing up at a course in reasonable, mid-thigh length shorts or a skirt, and being told you have to wear knee-length shorts. Do you know how hard it is to find knee-length shorts? Pretty tough. Do you know how hard it is to look good in knee-length shorts? Nearly impossible.
A pro shop that has shirts other than pink or wild prints.
Not that there’s anything wrong with pink, or wild prints, it’s just not the look every single female golfer is looking for. Having choices in the pro shop is a sign that women are taken seriously as part of that course's community, and it's especially helpful to newer golfers who may not know what options are out there when it comes to golf apparel.
Decently sized tee boxes.
If you’re a man or woman who plays forward tees, you’ve probably noticed that some of them can be rather… tiny. Sometimes they're not in as good of shape as the back tees, and occasionally the tee markers aren’t aimed at the fairway. The forward tees matter to a wide assortment of players, male and female, and shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought. Keeping them well-maintained could entice more players to play it forward.
A stocked locker room.
There’s a feeling of being welcomed at a golf course that comes with a locker room that has snacks, sunscreen options, and other niceties. Is it necessary? Not really. But it’s a sign that you’re being considered.
A reasonable yardage.
Having a yardage around or under 5,000 is important, but having something in between that and 6,500 yards is valuable, too. For female (and male) players with a bit of length but who can't bite off a longer course, that shorter-middle yardage is perfect. It's just not always an option. Finding the budget to make new tees can be difficult, but taking the time to map out an in-between yardage by utilizing multiple tees is a good compromise.
Long par 3’s that remain par 3's.
Very long par 3's are a difficult architectural feature for shorter hitters. You don't want people to be put in a position where they have to hit driver, but turning the hole into a par 4 on the scorecard rarely makes sense because the hole was never meant to play that way. Instead, finding the space (and budget) to make a creative tee to keep a par 3 intact shows the course is invested in making it playable for players of all lengths, and it makes the experience more enjoyable.
Bathrooms on the course.
In an emergency, a man can readily make an obscure part of the golf course his bathroom. A woman? Not so easily achieved. When a course provides bathrooms on the course, we take noticeand appreciate.
For the number of women in golf to continue to grow, we need to make sure the environment at courses is one where it's obvious that women are welcome. Investing the time, thought and funds in making golf courses feel like a place where women are wanted and considered will make golf more attractive to women, and will improve the experience of the women who are already playing.