What Do Women Want?

Posted on: April 25th, 2012 by admin No Comments
Published July 06, 2010
This week, the best women golfers in the world head to Oakmont Country Club for the U.S. Women’s Open and a course set at a challenging 6,613 yards (par 71). Besides providing some exciting action, this event provides superintendents, committee members, and everyone else involved with golf maintenance, set-up, or management a reminder that it’s important to consider what the average woman golfer wants from a  course.

Slightly more than 20% of the people currently playing golf are women. That may not sound like a lot, but women play a vital financial role on course and off, so it’s high time we listened to them. I recently spoke to a number of prominent women in the industry, askingfor their input. The following suggestions are a compilation of their remarks.

Design and Construction
Architects past and present haven’t done a good job of keeping women in mind when designing courses. They seem to forget (if they ever knew, or cared) that more than half of the women with handicaps are 28 or higher, shooting average scores around 105 for 18 holes (vs. 95 for the average man).

Research has determined that the optimal course yardage for average women players is between 4,200 and 4,800 yards, based on swing speeds and other factors. But a shorter set of tees shouldn’t mean “powder puff.” There are many ways to make a course challenging for a woman without making it too hard or un-fun.Create variety in yardage by offering at least two sets of tees, allowing women of different skill levels to reach greens in regulation.

Don’t demand a carry over a hazard of more than 90 yards from the first two sets of tees.

If a longer carry is unavoidable, create an additional landing area, moving tee markers and/or placing a well-marked drop area (with a yardage marker in or near it).

Steer women away from potential lost-ball areas-long grasses, ravines, and so on; the lost-ball rule requires re-hitting and often slows play.

And don’t be smug: These same limits apply to senior and new golfers, female and male.

Course Set-up
If you’re going to the trouble of providing two sets of tees, make sure they are well maintained and properly aligned, with USGA-approved handicap slope/ratings. By keeping these tees level and mown, the superintendent is telling women golfers that they are just as important as the other golfers.

On days of high-volume play by women, make hole locations fair and accessible. Make them slightly harder for women’s tournaments, but don’t overdo it.

Mow the rough so players can find their golf balls and, more importantly, hit out and back into play.

Keep green speeds in relation to players’ abilities. Ultra-fast greens drive people away.

Ball washers, sand/fill divot receptacles, and waste containers should be on or near the forward tees just as they are for other tees. A cooler of clean, fresh water should be readily available and appropriately placed.

Restrooms should be clean, well located (every four holes or so, including the clubhouse or snack bar), well ventilated, have trash receptacles, and be stocked with soap, towels, and feminine products.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the customer service staff, especially those on the front line who meet and greet guests. They should treat all golfers the same way regardless of gender. This holds true for the marshal or ranger, as well.

If your job (paying or volunteer) involves setting up and maintaining the course, you can score some important points by playing a full round with a threesome of average women. Observe how they play, what’s important to them, and what makes them happy and annoyed on the course. Afterward, have lunch or drinks with them and ask for their honest input on the course and the staff. Then be prepared to make changes based on the comments.

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