One in four new golfers are female and women tend to spend more money on the greens than men, but many golf courses still treat them as an afterthought, says Jane Watson, president of the Executive Women’s Golf Association.
“Golf courses don’t realize the power of the purse,” she says. She cites forward tees that are dumped on the side of the fairway as an example.
“It’s not manicured or mown – it’s bad. It’s not friendly at all,” she says. She’s also had a groundskeeper fire up his lawnmower as she was about to drive. “If the men were there, they’d stop,” she says. “But the women don’t really count.”
Watson also recommends courses tap into the female golfer’s tastes in food and drink at the on-course carts and the clubs. Not everybody wants beer and a hamburger, she says.
“Washrooms, of course, are an issue. It would be nice if there was at least one washroom out there that is kept supplied,” she suggests. Men may slip into the trees when nature calls, but women prefer something a little more planned.
“Some courses don’t care if women come out or not,” she says, but it’s worth caring. Women tend to spend more in pro shops and, as social golfers, they tend to bring their husbands and friends.
Ted Stonehouse is the general manager at Bell Bay Golf Club, which prides itself on welcoming women. Part of that is seeing golf as a social as well as sporting event. Women often prefer to learn in groups, whereas men often opt for private lessons, so they cater to both approaches.
The monthly Nine and Dine offers a more relaxed approach to golfing, accompanied by a meal that is not limited to beer and burgers.
“We tell them, you don’t have to play every hole,” Stonehouse says. “If you’re having a rough hole, just pick it up, enjoy the scenery and throw it down a little closer to the green. Have some fun.”
The forward tees are thoughtfully laid out, he says, and at certain time slots golfers can play nine holes, or even six holes, as their schedules permit.
And yes, they have washrooms throughout the course.