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Women's Mailbag

How can you get more women to join your golf league? How should you handle judgmental playing partners? Your questions, answered

simonkr

Welcome to our second women’s mailbag, where we answer questions from our female readership. If you have a question you would like to have answered, you can submit it here. It might be female-focused, but guys, if you have a question, we’re not going to ignore you.

Let’s get into it.

Many women won't join our ladies golf league because they think they aren't good enough. (They don't know we don't care about how they play... at all.) What's the best way to convince them to join?—Jennifer

Wanting to grow your women’s league is the first step to actually growing your women's league. To help you boost participation, I talked to Taylor Babcock, the head pro at Farmington Country Club in Virginia who says she’s seen this issue at every course she’s worked at.

“First, the word league sounds intimidating to those who don’t know if they want a full commitment or what level of commitment they would be signing up for. Have the events be one and done sign-ups,” Taylor advises.

She also says to take the focus off of golf. There are a few ways to do this. First, rename the event. Taylor’s had success with “9 & Wine” and “Mulligans & Margaritas". After all, margaritas sound a lot less intimidating than "Golf League."

“These themes allow for a relaxed atmosphere. Drink vouchers, prizes, and photo booths go a long way! A scramble format provides much needed stress relief and an open atmosphere where everyone contributes on the team,” Taylor said. “To keep everyone involved, competitive or social, have longest drive and closest to the pin contests, pay out 1/3 of the field and always have lite bites and drinks afterwards.”

If your club has other sports offerings beyond golf, Taylor says to incorporate them into a women's league event. Maybe there are a few tennis players who want to try golf. Taylor says to chat with your head golf and tennis pros about how you can make a ‘golf and tennis biathlon’, and see what they come up with.

You’ve already got a welcoming mindset: Now, just be creative, be casual, and work with your club. You’ll be surprised with what you come up with.

Any advice for handling being paired with men who judge female golfers? Margeurite, from Minnesota

Golf has come a long way when it comes to gender equality and there are plenty of men out there who make great random playing partners. But unfortunately, there are still men in the game who judge women. Myself and my female colleagues have been in situations where it's assumed that we don’t know what we're doing on the course, and that we're going to be slow. It, in a word, sucks. While there are plenty of good guys out there who won’t make you feel judged or inferior, uncomfortable situations do happen. I chatted with two of my colleagues, Courtney Kyritz our Audience Development Manager and Maddi MacClurg, an Assistant Editor, about their experiences with this.

First, if you find yourself in a truly bad situation, you do not need to stick it out. Maddi suggests calling the pro shop and having the ranger come out, “They can help you find a better playing situation.” You can also just walk in, head straight to the pro shop, and let them know what happened. If someone’s on their course treating people poorly, they should know about it. You’ll be making your own day better by removing yourself from the situation, and you’ll be helping out the next woman who’s paired with that person. Ask if you can join another group, or if there are any open tee times. You don't have to sacrifice your round.

If you’re in a situation that’s a bit uncomfortable but not worth leaving for, there are still a few things you can do. Personally, when paired with men I don’t know, I’ve been confronted with the feeling that I’ve come along and ruined what was going to be a great boys’ afternoon. In the past, my response has been to try and prove that I’m fun on the golf course by trying to be chatty. But just because you’re paired together doesn’t mean you have to be friends. If you’re getting the vibe that you just crashed their party, you can be respectful without really talking all that much. It helps to go to the course with a friend, so that you’re guaranteed to be paired with at least one person you trust and can chat with. When it’s you and a buddy, you two can do your own thing while the other two in your group can do theirs.

Sometimes judgment can manifest in swing tips. Way too many swing tips. If you find yourself in that situation, Maddi says, “Stick to your game. You might occasionally get a guy in your group who thinks he’s a swing guru, but unless he’s an instructor–and even if he is–you don’t have to take his advice. Just smile and nod, and keep doing you.”

Courtney said she’s felt pressure to try and keep up with the guys in her group, to prove she can hit it far and play just as well as they can. But she’s gained more confidence by just playing her own game and remembering that she has nothing to prove. “Once I stopped trying to level up to those around me, and stick to my own distances, taking the lay-up when needed, that is when I was able to gain confidence on the course, and play some of my best rounds. Beyond just trying to keep up or meet certain expectations, I have learned it’s most important to not take anything too seriously. Celebrate when you hit well, laugh at the random shank, and never try to play someone else’s game, or at their level.”

Feeling like you're being judged on the golf course can be anxiety-inducing. “Remember that you have just as much of a right to be there,” Maddi says. “You paid the same greens fees as everyone else in your group, so don’t let your group rush you.” You went out to the course to get outside, play some golf, maybe hit a few great shots, and enjoy the course. Don’t let someone in your group make you deviate from that goal.