On Tuesday, the third annual Women's Golf Day expected to build on the 711 venues in 46 countries the event boasted in 2017. The focus of the day is to celebrate women's golf, singling out a day to offer women of all abilities and ages golf instruction in a social environment all over the world. Landing two days after the completion of the U.S. Women's Open, Women's Golf Day adds fuel to a surge of positive energy around women's golf. But it's also an opportunity to wonder why there isn't always this much enthusiasm about this segment of the game. More specifically, though the number of girls playing golf is growing, the number of women who play golf are still far outnumbered by how many men play golf.
The team at 18Birdies, a golf app which has scoring, club selection and yardages among other features, did a study to try and figure this out. Conducted with the research firm Fusion Hill, the study showed that many women who play golf don't see themselves as golfers, but participants. The distinction is important. There's a lack of ownership, which comes from a lack of confidence on the golf course.
The study covers female golfers of different abilities, defining what keeps women from playing golf and what should be done to help female golfers to play more. One of the most interesting findings from the study is the role of a significant other in a woman's golf experience. The study found that there's a segment of female golfers whose boyfriend or husband was responsible for introducing them to golf. And while this is initially positive because it gets the woman into golf in the first place, the relationship can ultimately become harmful to her progress as a golfer.
"We found that women who learn the game through a significant other often rely on that person for everything in golf - from where and when to play, to what club to hit on the course," explained Susan Song, CMO at 18Birdies.
Women who were introduced to golf through their significant other rarely played if their significant other hadn't set it up, and when they did, they didn't have enough knowledge to feel comfortable and confident on the course. This is a problem because it means the woman's independence as a golfer has been stunted. While the introduction is good, there's not much growth from there.
18Birdies partnered with the LPGA to help get women to that next step, to help them gain knowledge and in turn, confidence and independence in the game.
"Women need their own community, where they can find other women to play with, teachers to give them lessons, and access to the resources necessary to learn the game," said Song.
Between the 18Birdies app and the LPGA Network, which launched back in January 2018, women have the ability to know what's going on on the course, with yardages and club selection via the app, and also resources to help find teachers, clinics and events, and more.
The question of why don't more women play golf has been around for decades, but targeting the issue of a lack of confidence and independence is an intriguing one. Adding in means by which to educate women is even better.