From Hootie Johnson and Augusta National dissing women to the struggles of the LPGA to find and retain sponsors, golf for women often seems like an uphill struggle.
But according to some new research, things may be much worse than we thought for the ladies.
According to the site Golf With Women, the vast majority of golf courses around the world are simply unfair to women players.
Let’s back up a step here: Golf With Women is run by a formidable and impressive group: ex-venture capitalists Arthur Little and Jann Leeming; Jon Last is founder of Sports and Leisure Research Group; longtime golf industry insider Karen Moraghan serves on a number of golf related boards and has worked closely with everyone from the USGA to Robert Trent Jones II; and women’s golf and business expert Nancy Berkeley, who I used to work with when I ran The Golf Insider (now Golf Odyssey)
So these are not a bunch of crackpots.
In most cases, women golfers are being asked to play courses that are more than 1,000 yards too long for them to reach greens in regulation.
Little and Leeming devised a “fairness test” for courses, based on the average distance people hit their tee shots. Turning this around, they applied it the average length of the women’s tees, 5,600 yards and found that MUCH too long.
The 5,600-yard ladies scorecard is equivalent to an 8,400-yard course for the average man. Do you want to play form 8,400 yards every time you go out? I don’t.
If you were Matt Kuchar trying to keep up with the amateur ladies, your tees would need to be set at 11,200 yards.
For long hitting Dustin Johnson, crank the tips back to 12,320.
These are vivid examples of how unreasonable the status quo is, and perhaps why it is so difficult to get women more interested in golf. Image going out to play, every time, knowing that if you hit your two best shots you still couldn’t reach a par-4 in regulation. Would you still play?
Little and Leeming suggest playing a course length equivalent to 30 times your average driving distance as a rule of thumb (get your ego in check and note “average,” not “longest”). According to their data, the average women hits her tee shot 140, and should be playing off 4,200 yards. The average man should be playing 6,300 and the average PGA Tour pro 8,400 which sounds a lot more reasonable than the numbers above.
For more on the methodology and proposed solutions, check out Golf with Women.