What’s New at the PGA Show for Women Golfers

By: Nancy Berkley

I watch trends. So, why year after year do I go to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando and walk five miles to see over 1,200 exhibits? The answer is to find out what’s new for women golfers. This is very important for a marketing consultant in the golf industry.

Historically, manufacturers of golf apparel and products complained – as well as service providers like golf resorts – that women were not really good customers. They didn’t spend enough or play enough. My answer has been that these complainers were not spending money on advertising or promotions specifically targeted to women golfers. They were getting a minimal return for minimal efforts.

But savvy manufacturers are putting more marketing dollars in their women’s lines. That’s good news because it will show that a real marketing investment in women golfers will yield a profitable return. And others will follow. Good marketing actually builds markets.

Here are four trends and some new products I spotted:

(1) More manufacturers are specifically targeting women golfers in their advertising. Here are some examples:

The ECCO (www.eccogolf.com) shoes booth featured a huge eye-catching photo that could be seen aisles away, of a cool young woman wearing cool golf shoes.

  • One of the largest golf-towel manufacturers, Devant (www.devantsporttowels.com), has a new line of pastel golf towels. It is only a small section of their display but the colors are beautiful. Someone at the company knows what women like.
  • Winn Grips – a major supplier of golf club grips (www.winngrips.com) – is pushing their marbled-designs and several are pink. Guess who will buy those? "

  • And there is more exciting golf apparel for young girls. In the past, there were good toddler golf clothes, but the manufacturers finally realized that 12-year-old girls love clothes. Garb Inc. (www.garbinc.com) has the smartest line for girls that I have seen. Their shirts can be layered and are in style. And they work both on the golf course and in school.


(2) Another important trend is that there are more women entrepreneurs in the golf industry. Women designing for women is good.

  • Vanese Clogh, six-months pregnant, showed off the "Hold-n-One" (www.hold-n-one.com) golf bag bracket that she and her husband designed. It’s a neat way to store golf clubs upright (particularly in a garage). 

  • Four talented women started the apparel company "Trigelle" (www.trigelle.com) with the message: “Bringing Golf to Life.” Not only do they have sophisticated designs for young women, but they offer a "classic fit" option for the average 45-year-old women golfer – a little looser through the middle but not dumpy-looking. And the fabrics are easy-care and environmentally friendly. 

  • Linda Brown, founder of LB Belt Company (www.lbbeltcompany.com), designed a very clever belt. It’s clear plastic and will go with everything. It is one of her top sellers and retails for around $30. 

  • Joanne Cloak founded Jofit Golf Wear (www.jofitgolfwear.com). All fabrics are machine washable and very figure flattering. Her new sweater vest has a deep and wide "V" and an elongated band at the bottom that hugs the waist and hips. It’s a refreshing sweater design. 

(3) This year’s show featured more women’s golf clothes that do not look like golf clothes. This trend does have a negative effect because it makes tracking the dollars spent on women’s golf clothes more difficult. The industry tracks dollars spent at "golf" retailers, but it cannot capture the dollars spent at department stores or specialty boutiques. The consequence is that the industry may report that women’s golf apparel sales are down when, in fact, women are buying more at non-golf shops. It’s not a perfect world.

The new designs from Jamie Sadock (www.jamiesadock.com), for example, will appear in high-end sport and apparel boutiques as well as pro shops. A little jacket from Jamie will be just perfect for dinner.

(4) Finally, the fabrics and patterns that are showing up in women’s clothes are more varied than ever. There are pin-stripe fabrics that advertise a golf-for-business look. In fact, Tail apparel advertises: "Jane swings from golf to business." And there are beautiful new performance fabrics that feel like silk and are more feminine than ever. Take your pick and pick a lot.

So, I am not wringing my hands today about why more women are not playing more golf or buying more golf stuff. Manufacturers who understand what women golfers want are now investing more smart marketing dollars in promoting women’s products. They will lead the market, and others will follow. And the number of women golfers will finally see a significant increase in options over the next few five years. That’s the trend I like the most!