Spring and summer days bring golfers flocking to club courses to enjoy the game, time with friends and a few hours outdoors. But for years, there’s been a challenge: Those golfers are overwhelmingly male. Bringing women to the game and keeping them playing continues to challenge general managers and pros—along with the men who’d like to play with their wives, daughters, colleagues and female friends. Countless ideas have been floated and programs launched but most results have been mediocre at best.
For clubs, getting more women on the golf course is especially important. More women mean more memberships, more lessons, more pro shop sales and more rounds. Women are usually the key decision-makers in families, leading to even more participation, use and spending.
One easy—and effective—way for clubs to promote women’s golf is by participating in Women’s Golf Day (WGD) (womensgolfday.com), an annual, global event that “engages, empowers and supports” women and girls who want to play golf—or who might not know they want to play yet but are willing to give it a try—with events at golf facilities around the world.
The idea is simple: On the first Tuesday in June—this year it’s June 7—golf courses around the world devote four hours to introducing new female participants to the game and offering targeted programming celebrating those who already play. The first WGD was held in 2016. Since then, WGD events have been held at more than 1,000 locations in 80 countries.
“Women’s Golf Day gives women all over the world a chance to connect with other women and feel welcome in the sport,” explained Founder Elisa Gaudet. “We started by creating an event geared toward what women wanted and since then, have created a community of women supporting each other no matter their golf skill level. Women’s Golf Day has evolved into a year-round movement centered on golf and unity.”
In the typical WGD event, the first two hours give participants the option of taking lessons (one hour on the range, one hour chipping and putting) or playing nine holes in either a scramble or own-ball format. The second two hours are devoted to socializing, networking and distributing information that will help participants stay involved. Socializing also can mean bringing in speakers, introducing new players to experienced players such as local college and high school golf teams, and involving community and corporate groups.
The idea is to show that golf is as much about the people you meet and the doors it opens as it is about time on the course.
WGD is also about inclusion, welcoming all comers, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, disability/medical condition, marital status or sexual orientation.
The focus on diversity extends to the facilities that host a WGD event. In past years, programs have been held at public, semiprivate, and private courses; golf resorts; driving ranges; mini-golf and putt-putt; even golf retailers. Wherever golf is all or part of the business, Women’s Golf Day can have an effect.
“It’s a fun-filled day, there’s no excuse not to have it,” said Gabby Steiner, head golf professional at Pinehurst Country Club in North Carolina. “Women are nervous to go out and play, wondering if they have the game. But with Women’s Golf Day, it’s easy. They have fun, it’s a scramble so everyone is on a team, and they realize they have mutual connections with the other women.
“There are women at every club just waiting for that invitation to go out and play,” she continued “Without this platform, it’s not going to happen.”
Women’s Golf Day also has the support of dozens of sponsors, from organizations that include the National Golf Foundation, National Golf Course Owners Association, and many international federations, as well as companies such as PGA TOUR Superstore, Callaway, Titleist, FootJoy, Troon, ClubCorp, TopGolf and PGA professionals.
At last year’s event at Pinehurst Country Club, representatives from sponsor Titleist/FootJoy were onsite all day, talking to the women about shoes and equipment, handing out samples and answering questions.
“Having that interactive component, that education piece, was so valuable,” Steiner said. “I still get feedback from women about that.”
Mary Kay Willson serves as COO of Women’s Golf Day and comes from a legacy golf family and extensive golf background. For more information on Women’s Golf Day, contact [email protected].