Women and golf

People’s reputations can be enhanced or diminished simply by the fact that they get talked about on the golf course. Advancements and promotions have happened because people play golf with the higher ups.  This isn’t just the case in the for-profit sector—it’s true at nonprofits as well. David Feherty: said that golf is America’s corporate sport, and all of the people I interviewed at the PGA Merchandising Show reiterated how much it has benefited their careers.

If you look at the statistics, you can see that the number of golfers is declining. That’s not too surprising in today’s time-strapped, golf outfitmulti-tasking, budget-conscious world. But is it truly a boys club? Actually, it is: women make up about only 20% of golfers.

During the State of the Game at the PGA Merchandising Show, the panel repeatedly spoke about needing to reach out to women. There are a number of obstacles to more women playing, the biggest one being time. Many working women struggle to fit in the bare minimum of exercise; a 60 minute yoga class on a good day, a quick 20 minute walk on other days. Who has time to spend four hours on a golf course? It’s also a sport with a steep learning curve, where you have to be very intentional about mastering skills. And something I noticed at the PGA Merch Show—men’s golf clothes can very easily double as business casual work attire, yet the opposite is true for women. If a man wants to play a round of golf after work, he simply has to change his shoes. For a woman it necessitates an entirely separate outfit! Obviously there is a fairly easy solution, but when women are fighting against stereotypes of being high-maintenance already, it can be a deterrent. (Pictured: The only golf outfit I found that remotely could pass for work wear.)

The PGA is giving lip service to becoming more female-friendly, but there are some solutions in progress at golf courses across the postercountry, including adjusting tees, fewer male-only tee times, and increased family-friendly courses. Women-only golf groups are popping up all over the country, as well as golf course consultants with the goal of helping a course appeal to women. Some great stuff!

And yet, as I was walking into Demo Day at the show, I heard a man call out to a waitress: “Hey, hot stuff!” Yeah. That actually happened. Another thing that showed how far there is yet to go is the poster pictured to the right. It was attached to the back of some sort of machine, facing a very busy pathway. Not exactly a way to make women feel welcome!

So while there are plenty of reasons for women to start playing golf, there are also many impediments. It can potentially affect your career, but barely 1 out of five golfers is a woman. Interesting, no?

Readers, do you play golf? Do you think helps/would help your career?


  1. I bought a set of clubs a few seasons back thinking it would be fun and might just help my career. No luck so far.

  2. I’m interested in learning for the networking reasons you mention, but it’s always seemed expensive and hard to get into. Maybe I’ll take some lessons this spring…

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