Ladies’ Day Does Not Produce Loyal Customers

by Renee Mancino on February 22, 2012

Feminism is a passé ideology in the new millennium so I take the position of a Gender Neutral Golf Advocate (GNGA). Golf venues struggling to rebound from the poor economy should know and own the concept of GNGA. Undoubtedly courses allocate marketing dollars to reach women players but what is the plan to keep us coming back?

I live in the northern suburbs of Chicago and receive dozens of emails from courses promoting “Ladies Day ½ off Green Fees”. I take the bait to venture out to new courses but by the end of the round decide if discounted golf is more important then patronizing a course that practices GNGA attitude.

Who Hit That Shot?

While discussing the difference between business and recreational golf with Dave Bisbee, I had a light bulb moment. Dave said, “The golf ball does not distinguish why you are playing golf, only how the ball is struck.” Taken a step further, “the golf ball does not distinguish what gender is striking the ball,” a lesson course management should learn to avoid the trappings of distinguishing skill and knowledge based on gender. I’ve been at this game for 20 years and will admit courses have made great strides in promoting the game to women but lack in creating a gender-neutral atmosphere.

Play From Appropriate Tee

Is a starter being helpful if suggested all women take advantage of the forward tees? Harmless advice perhaps but what if a starter sized up a smaller stature man and suggested he move up from the back tees? Same concept based on a preconceived bias and a situation I have never personally witnessed. I play with a lot of women who are long hitters and opt for the middle tees only to be met with resistance by the starter offering the better option of playing from the “ladies tees”. The interruption makes the challenge of hitting a confident shot under scrutiny more difficult and sets the tone for the rest of the round.

Bias toward women on the course is also reflected in the interaction between rangers and golfers. When I play a round with men, rarely does the ranger have personal interaction with my group. On the other side, frequent ranger sightings and verbal reminders about pace of play occur when my group is all female and our pace is on or ahead of time. Translation, women need the presence of a ranger to play a round in four hours.

Even the grounds crew inadvertently practices gender bias. Again my point of view is based on personal experience and discrepancies when playing with men versus women. When golfing with women, unheeded FORES to the crew working on a sprinkler head, operating mowers near the green in line with approach shots, raking bunkers perpendicular to lies, etc., tests our concentration. The assumption is women golfers are unaffected by distractions or we take the game lightly when in fact the women I golf with view every round as an opportunity to lower their handicap.

In order for a course to receive the GNGA stamp of approval, management must change its disposition based on these perceptions:

  1. Men and women play golf for different reasons
  2. Women’s skill sets are not on par with men’s
  3. Women are not versed in golf rules and etiquette
  4. Women are slow golfers
  5. Women are not loyal customers

Once these misnomers are rectified, gender-neutral training with course staff is possible.

Ladies’ Day might get us out to the course but if the experience isn’t positive, we’ll head a few miles down the street next week. And just a final thought…when I go to a steakhouse and order the king cut prime rib my server doesn’t size me up and suggest the queen cut would be a better choice. He or she just assumes I’m hungry.

Renee Mancino

Renee Mancino, located in Chicago, IL, Inclusion and Diversity Consultant to the golf industry, Independent Contractor for the Women on Course Organization, Co-Owner of Chicago Outdoor Media, 20 year amateur golfer, and intent on proving breaking 80 was not a fluke.

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