We speak to two PGA Professionals to find out what it is that engages women and girls with the game of golf...
How To Get More Women And Girls Into Golf – “Having Fun Is Crucial To Engagement”
Golf, in its traditional form, has never been a ‘lifeboat’ sport of women and children first.
So who is rocking the boat and how are they making waves to grow golf for females?
I’ve long been a fan of golf being taught in a way that not only encourages but also engages with golfers on every level.
It’s a bit like an approach shot to the green – chip and run or lob it up, both potential achieving the same results, just the execution and thought process differs.
Alison Perkins, it has to be said, is slightly off the wall with her ideas.
She picks on themes which are influenced by the outside world or calendar and makes every lesson fun.
So much so that her students have no idea what they will walk in to from one week to the next.
Focussing instead on her students, how she can drive the message home often without it becoming too technical; she finds a way to suit them.
It wouldn’t be uncommon to see Alison in a tutu or dressed as a leprechaun, if thats what gets her students engaged.
The youngsters love her antics and the women aren’t far behind either!
She believes one should never be short of ideas of how to engage golfers – it’s her job as PGA professional at Biggleswade Golf Centre to find her students access point of engagement and grow it from there.
The Slingsby celebrity academy has the potential to attract new female golfers by PGA Professionals taking four women influencers and coaching them to ‘make the cut’ at the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am.
Sponsored and dressed well, with all equipment provided, it doesn’t really represent females getting into golf at grass roots level, but what it does do is shine the light on golf to a whole new sector of females who may not have thought golf was cool enough to take part in previously.
My own experience of getting my daughters into golf appears to be typical.
As young teenagers, they enjoyed their carefree lessons.
As time wore on, and the older they got, the embarrassment of hitting a good shot out weighed that of experiencing that hot knife though butter moment of the clean strike.
Alice Davis, PGA professional at Parkstone Golf Club concurs with this.
In her experience she has seen the girls taking lessons at 12 or 13 years of age, then being lost.
However, the upside to this is those girls taking up golf as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award is another way to engage with them as older teenagers.
Moreover, during informative school years, the girls can be retained, nurtured and encouraged, but once they leave for university they realise they are not the best in class or maybe the university doesn’t have facilities to encourage all golfers, only elite level ones, so they too drift away.
Upon leaving university the job, house and sometimes relationship building becomes another higher priority on these young women’s time and finances.
So whilst I’ve always felt the 40-something females were the low hanging fruit for golf membership and expenditure, the ones with time, money and often willingness to participate in golf as a social sport, there also appears to be a gap in the natural flow of ages through university level too.
To complicate things further Alice’s experience as a PGA professional at an established golf club admits that about 75% of the children that take up golf have had an influence from family or friends.
Whereas Alison, who is the PGA professional at a driving range, says that the girls that come to her facility are more likely to have had no previous exposure to golf.
Both Alison and Alice agree on one thing; don’t stick to rigid lesson plans.
When coaching girls and females, work with your group; how do you think they feel, how are they responding today.
Sure this means you have to have a variety of ways to coach the same thing, but once you get that engagement; that hint of achievement in their eyes, you’ve got them hooked.
Having fun is crucial to engagement, regardless of the age.
Good rounded PGA professionals can help you along your journey, and that journey doesn’t have to end as an elite golfer, just enjoy the ride and enjoy the sport.
Related: How to become a PGA Professional