Just one golf club in six (17.2%) has a waiting list for ladies’ membership, and on average it is just six names long, according to the biggest study of ladies’ golf ever undertaken in Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I). Commissioned by the Ladies Golf Union (LGU) and carried out by Comperio Research the study offers a comprehensive profile of lady golfers and their views on golf.
A downward trend in the number of lady golfers who are also golf club members, underpins the research project in which 1,202 lady golfers took part. The lady golfer questionnaires were administered using a recruit and call back methodology in June and July 2005. 1,080 were golf club members and there were 122 non-members in the sample. Additionally, a questionnaire, distributed to members of the Golf Club Secretaries Association, gained 369 (15%) responses between 31 May and 22 July 2005
Commenting on the study findings LGU chief executive Andy Salmon said, “We have a wealth of new information which in many cases confirms what has long been believed. Clearly, the ladies’ game has a number of issues which need to be addressed for the long-term good of the game. We have shared and discussed these findings with the ladies’ and men’s unions in each of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and now look forward to seeing how they and their respective partnerships (where relevant) utilise the data to take the game and specifically, ladies’ golf forward.”
The average golf club in GB&I has 103 lady members, each paying an annual membership fee of £460/€678 and a joining fee of £485/€715, although this figure varies significantly between countries. More than two-thirds of clubs (70.6%) were found to have vacancies for lady members, with an average of 26 places available. Clubs were found on average to have 460 men, 107 ladies, 58 boys and only 7 girls.
The average lady golfer in GB&I is aged between 55-64 years with a handicap of 25, plays 2-3 times a week and golf is her main pastime. She is married with children and has played for 17 years. Nearly 9 out of 10 lady golfers have another member of their household who plays golf.
Questioned on barriers to more women playing golf, the top responses from both lady golfers and golf club secretaries were: lack of time 53.9%, lack of TV coverage for ladies’ golf 42.2%, clubs too male dominated 41.6% and too expensive 40.5%. Clubs seen as unfriendly polled 28.9%, lack of family atmosphere 24.9% and dress code 16.1%.
Although access to membership is not a barrier, with 96.5% of the golf clubs surveyed having equal admission to membership for men and women members, researchers found strong support for the view that government should legislate to make discrimination in clubs on the basis of gender illegal, a situation that already exists in Ireland. Three quarters of UK lady golfers (73.5%) and UK golf club secretaries (75.2%) were found to support legislation.
Additionally two thirds (66.1%) of lady golfers interviewed were of the opinion that men and women only clubs damage the image of the game but views were less clear cut on the future for men or women only club membership with less than half (46.7%) of those polled viewing them as unacceptable. Over a third (36.9%) supported the right to choose membership of a men only or women only golf club and 16.4% held no strong opinions.
The move to the CONGU Unified Handicapping System for men and women that came into effect on 1 February 2004 is found to be good for the game, supported by 73.6% of lady golfers and 90.2% of golf club secretaries.
Women playing in The Open Championship is also given a positive approval rating with 55% of lady golfers in favour but with most (80.2%) agreeing that qualification must be on equal terms with men.
The number of lady golf club members in GB&I has fallen from 225,276 in 2001 to 215,437 in 2005.
The study was funded in part by The R&A. Comperio Research is the independent research arm of the world’s premier sports and lifestyle management and marketing firm, IMG