Women's Golf Month - Help Needed

By: Nancy Berkley

New statistics from the National Golf Foundation are just in time for the June American Express Women's Golf Month. And the news isn't good. The new stats report that in 2008, only 15% of all the rounds played in the United States were played by women over 18. This continues the downward trend in participation by adult women golfers. The number of women golfers (as opposed to the number of 'rounds' they play) is flat at about 6 million, or about 23% of total golfers. But, the decrease in the number of rounds confirms that more women golfers are playing fewer rounds.

Promotions for American Express Women's Golf Month will also be a struggle. Without Golf for Women magazine, about 1 million women will not read about the event in a print publication. You may recall that Conde Nast shut down Golf for Women magazine about a year ago.

If you are a subscriber to Golf Digest (another Conde Nast publication), look at your June issue. In the middle of the magazine is a special 15-page segment devoted to women's golf. The first women's segment was in the April 2009 issue (the section is not included in most newsstand issues). But in this June subscription issue - of what some consider the most widely circulated golf magazine in the U.S. - there is not one mention of Women's Golf Month. But the news about the special women's event is on the magazines website at www.golfdigest.com.

The bottom line is that the burden of promoting Women's Golf Month and women's golf in general rests first with individual course owners and with women golfers themselves. My advice to owners is to think about public relations, that is creating a news event worthy of publication in your local paper.

So, what could be news? Try this: Ask your best women golfers to form a special women's golf month committee with you AND take a great photo of them. Here's the headline: "Local Club Champions help Plan Events for Women's Golf Month." Golf professionals are not trained to write press releases, but I bet that one of your women golfers will help you out. The story need not be more than a couple of paragraphs.

Now let's get to what women themselves should do. First, go to the Play Golf America site at www.playgolfamerica.com and click on the Women's Golf Month link. Type in your zip code and see what courses in your area are participating. You might get lucky and find a free clinic or special greens fee at your local course.

But if not, print out the pages about Women's Golf Month from the website. Bring it your local course and ask why they are not participating. June has 30 days - at least they can find a couple of days to do something special for their female customers. If you get resistance, please let me know.

One of the responses you might hear is that June is a busy month. Well, so was May and July, with Family Golf Month even busier. And the industry is also pushing a new program called "Get Golf Ready." See my article about it on Cybergolf at http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/a_cbstv_special_for_new_golfers_and_pga_professionals.

There is one bit of interesting news that I received from the NGF about golf rounds. The average number of rounds for girls ages 6-17 is 13 rounds per year. Boys of the same age average 10 rounds a year.

Those of us working in the industry know that junior girls' golf is a sweet spot in the game, which brings me to the upcoming July Family Golf Month. This is another industry effort by the major golf organizations. Read about it on the Play Golf America website. Help your local golf course get with these programs.

Nancy Berkley, President of Berkley Golf Consulting, is a contributor to Cybergolf. She is an expert on women's golf. Her book, "Women Welcome Here! A Guide to Growing Women's Golf," published by the National Golf Foundation, is an industry reference on marketing golf to women. She is a resource for golf-industry trends and marketing advice on her website www.nancyberkley.com. She chaired a panel at the World Scientific Congress of Golf in Phoenix, Ariz., in March 2008 and was a guest speaker at the Northern California Business Women's Conference held at Poppyridge Golf Course in Livermore, Calif., in June 2008. Nancy also consults with golf facilities on how to attract more women golfers. She was a contributing editor of Golf for Women magazine and is the Chair of the Advisory Board of Golfer Girl Magazine where she also writes a series about careers in the golf industry. Her articles also appear on www.ladiesgolfjourney.com. Nancy provides a Free Help Line on her website (for those seeking marketing advice in the golf industry.