Women’s Golf Survey Results
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Women’s Golf Survey Results

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Women’s Golf Survey Results

A few weeks ago, we asked you—more specifically, our female readers—to take our women’s golf survey. Our goal was to learn more about our female readers, their experience with fitting and how they perceive the options (or lack thereof) available to them. We were also looking for some insight into how we might do a better job providing information to the fastest-growing segment of golfers.

Our standard surveys receive upwards of 10,000 responses. This survey received 778 responses of which 147 of those were disqualified because the respondent wasn’t a woman. If nothing else, we learned there is opportunity.

Before we dive into the charts, here are a few notes from the demographic section.

  • The highest female participation group by age includes golfers between 55 and 64 followed by 25 to 34. Between 35 and 54, participation drops by a few percentage points.
  • Women were significantly less likely to answer the annual household income question than men. Nearly 25 percent preferred not to answer.
  • Nearly 25 percent of respondents don’t maintain a handicap index. Among those who do, the highest percentage have indexes between 15.1 and 20 followed by the 25.1 and higher group.
  • The highest percentage (23 percent) plays 11 to 25 rounds per year. Nearly 13 percent play more than 100.

Women are often cited as the fastest-growing segment in golf and, with a COVID-driven uptick in participation, we wanted to see what that looks like.

  • Just over 28 percent (the largest group in the survey) have been playing for more than 20 years.
  • 27 percent have played golf for five to 10 years.
  • Nearly 13 percent have played for 16 to 20 years.
  • New golfers (those who have played for less than 3 years) account for nearly 20% of the population of female golfers.

I suspect that if we asked men this question, we’d probably see a different result.

  • The majority of women (nearly 70 percent) report “fun” as the primary objective.
  • 16 percent list “playing competitively.”
  • Just over one percent list “networking” as their primary reason for playing.

The female members on our staff were curious and, seeing how engaged the women at my club are with league play, I was, too.

  • 57 percent of women say they don’t play in leagues.
    • Perhaps notable: nearly half also report playing at a public course where league options aren’t as prevalent as private and semi-private clubs.
  • Nearly 40 percent participate in outdoor leagues.
  • Three percent play in both indoor and outdoor leagues with the former likely being predominantly in cold-weather climates.

With that out of the way, let’s move to the juicy part of our survey where we dig into fitting and a bit more about the equipment that female golfers are using.

  • I’ll admit to being pleasantly surprised here. Nearly 52 percent of respondents have been fitted for something in their bags.

  • At 20 percent, off-course shops account for the highest percentage. The majority of “other” answers fell into the off-course category as well, so the actual percentage is likely a bit higher still.
  • Nineteen percent were fitted on-course.
  • Manufacturer demo days account for 10 percent.
  • Custom fitting chains (Club Champion, Cool Clubs, True Spec and TXG) account for a much smaller percentage (about 10 percent combined) than they do with male golfers.
  • Big box (DICK’S, Golf Galaxy and PGA TOUR Superstore) also account for about 10 percent of fittings combined.

This question (and your answers) speaks directly to the challenges facing club manufacturers and likely fitters, too. How do you find the right balance between speaking directly to women without overtly pandering or giving the appearance that you’re treating them differently than men?

  • The good news is that 72 percent of respondents felt their fitter was focused on their specific needs.
  • Twenty-six percent feel they weren’t shown enough women-specific options.

NPS scores can be difficult to quantify. Generally speaking, anything above 0 is considered OK. That said, looking at irons and driver satisfaction surveys, the average Net Promoter Score was 36. When we’ve asked about brand satisfaction, the top-rated brands achieve Net Promoter Scores above 50. So, while technically 9 isn’t terrible, by comparison, it suggests that women are generally less satisfied with their fitting experience than their male counterparts.

As we did with our most recent driver and iron satisfaction surveys, we asked golfers who were fitted whether they decided to buy the clubs they were fitted for.

  • Nearly 60 percent of respondents ultimately bought the clubs they were fitted for.
  • As with the men, the majority who didn’t buy (51 percent) said the performance benefits didn’t justify the cost.
  • There was an even split between golfers who felt the fitter recommended the wrong club(s) and those who felt the cost was too high.

With the fitting stuff covered, we wanted to know a bit more about not only the equipment women are playing but some of there perceptions of that equipment.

  • 54 percent play women’s clubs or clubs marketed specifically to women.
  • 34 percent play what are typically considered men’s clubs.

This again speaks to the challenges of the women’s market. The need for gendered clubs likely has less to do with performance and design attributes and more to do with the individual woman buying the club.

  • 42 percent play a Tour-level ball.
  • 28 percent play a “women’s” ball.

Again, what’s the right approach for a company to take? There’s absolutely nothing from a design perspective that makes a golf ball a “women’s” golf ball. Just like male golfers, performance-driven women are likely going to choose a Tour ball and preference-driven women are going to play something based on that preference.

Once upon a time, that preference was soft but the Precept Lady spawned the Laddie and now everyone offers a soft ball. More often than not, what makes a ball a women’s ball is the color—and that color is typically some shade of pink.

This one came from our female staffers and, while admittedly the list could have been a thousand options long, we wanted to focus on some of the things we’d heard from women in the past.

  • 30 percent don’t buy women’s equipment.
  • 26 percent feel there’s too much emphasis on color.
  • 11 percent feel the marking is manipulative and that women’s products aren’t really designed for women—which is mostly true.
  • 20 percent are completely satisfied.
  • Among those who selected “other”, there were two interesting trends:
    • Many noted the lack of women’s options, especially compared to what’s marketed to men.
    • Several respondents said their husbands buy or build their clubs or that they get the hand-me-downs.

Given that many women feel short-changed by the market itself, we wondered how they perceived the quality of what is available to them.

A single bullet point tells a compelling story.

  • 64 percent of respondents believe current women’s offerings are of lower quality than men’s.

That’s probably not true but it speaks to a belief that not a lot of effort goes into women’s offerings. That’s a double-edged sword because, frankly, women’s offerings shouldn’t require much effort. Other than some changes to stock length and flex based on the average female physique, there shouldn’t be much to do. Should you paint it to look like something different? Some women clearly want that while the same approach for others reeks of pandering.

This is another question driven by our female staff members who are decidedly not satisfied with the current apparel offerings. While putting the survey together, they told me that when they need golf apparel, they hit up the tennis section.

  • 30 percent say they are satisfied with current apparel options which means 70 percent aren’t.
  • It’s perhaps interesting that there’s a near-even split between “it’s not designed for athletes” and the most common response among the other answers which was some form of “not made for body type” (terrible fit, form-fitting for small people and women without curves).
  • Other frequently listed answers among those who chose other were:
    • Puts fashion over function
    • Overpriced
    • Too casual (gym wear)
    • Old and made for grandma

Some background on this question: Five years ago or so, I spoke with a senior executive at one of the major golf brands. When I asked how his company’s women’s line was doing, he said he thought they were doing well but that it’s challenging to reach women because they don’t consume golf and golf equipment information in the same ways and places men do. Specifically, he mentioned that women don’t watch Golf Channel, read Golf Digest or frequent MyGolfSpy. Obviously, that’s not to say all women don’t get information from those outlets but it’s definitely not nearly at the same rate as their male counterparts.  His larger point was that there aren’t any media resources with a large female reach or a predominantly female audience.

With that said, our objective here was to understand where women turn for info on golf equipment.

  • Comparatively, we do pretty well, but we also know we don’t do particularly well with women—and we certainly benefit from being the home team for this survey.
  • 34.51 percent rely on their significant other. This aligns with the previous question about the clubs women are playing.
    • Significant others (presumably husbands and boyfriends) are a significant source of info (and sometimes the equipment itself).
    • Building on that, Husband was listed more often than anything else by those who chose Other
  • Not a single respondent listed “Mom” as a source of golf equipment information. It seems this is the one place where we don’t rely on our mothers.
  • Sons, golf pros and the internet/social media were also listed often.

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Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony is the Editor of MyGolfSpy where his job is to bring fresh and innovative content to the site. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, he was instrumental in developing MyGolfSpy's data-driven testing methodologies and continues to sift through our data to find the insights that can help improve your game. Tony believes that golfers deserve to know what's real and what's not, and that means MyGolfSpy's equipment coverage must extend beyond the so-called facts as dictated by the same companies that created them. Most of all Tony believes in performance over hype and #PowerToThePlayer.

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey





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      Mat

      2 years ago

      The biggest miss for women’s equipment is shaft. It’s not that a “ladies” shaft is bad… it’s that manufacturers preach on about women’s gear, and they offer exactly one option in shaft, with pretty colours, light as possible. That’s fine, but it shows you aren’t treating it seriously. Should be able to get a stiffer shaft up to at least a R in a different paint scheme.

      Reply

      Barb

      2 years ago

      Golf does a bad job on promoting and offering women golfers a real choice in clubs and golfwear Terrible

      Reply

      Mary Beth

      2 years ago

      I think when women say the club choices are inferior ,they mean that they do not have the options and choices that the men have and that when ever they go to get fit ,they get handed a ladies club even if they are a low handicap and very strong. Many times at demo days there is only one women’s choice while there is a bag full of choices for women and the fitters never suggest trying a senior or light shaft and they seldom suggest bothering to order irons flat or upright.

      Reply

      Paul R

      2 years ago

      Went with my wife for a fitting at Ping (U.K.) HQ last week and thankfully had a great experience compared to yours. The choices and options available were everything they had. His priority was to get the best performing clubs in her hand. The irons took a long while to get right, there was no rush and she’s ended up with a steel shaft over graphite. Her new G425 driver has a “mens” regular graphite shaft. Women are often treated like second class citizens in golf as well as life. Unfortunately a lot of places selling kit don’t realise that the golf club doesn’t know who’s using it and revert to preconceptions.

      Reply

      Amy

      2 years ago

      Sorry I missed the survey.. 100% fitted mens heads and shafts (R flex) clubs by an excellent fitter who used to play on the tour and fits tour players and top amateurs.. 7hcp 60 year old long hitting, straight putting woman. Biggest beef… Men:
      A Not letting me play through because I am a woman so I have to suffer through their 200 stroke front 9!
      B 120 hcp men offering me tips
      C Clubs that only book women’s tee times later in the hot afternoons saving the men’s times for in the morning because they “play faster”…. My round in the 70s is a lot faster than theirs…
      D Always being put down as the D player in a 4 person team scramble… Big advantage for my team but really?
      E Clubs that canx the wife’s membership when the husband dies. Especially when her house is on the course or in the development…

      Fix these kinds of problems and you will better participation from women.

      Reply

      Ryebread

      2 years ago

      I’m male but these points (and more) are spot on.

      Reply

      Dean Sundin

      2 years ago

      As one of those men who filled out the survey for my significant other, I may be a moron in many facets of life, but not golf. NO, I did the survey for her because 1) she never would do it herself, 2) I’ve been involved in her golf decisions and know her reasoning and choice/selection process 3) I could represent her honestly. Surveys only work well with as much random sampling as can be obtained. I simply contributed a single sample of a population that, apparently, will be ignored by this survey..

      Reply

      Greg

      2 years ago

      It wouid be interesting to see how the results of the men who answered the survey for women differ in their answers from those submitted by women themselves.

      Reply

      Doug Hansen

      2 years ago

      The Objective in the Game of Golf graph is super interesting, with the clear majority saying “fun” is their main objective.. I would like to see this same survey among men.

      Perhaps just as stereotypical and sexist but this poll underscores the ancient wisdom that, “Girls just wanna have fun!”

      It is cliché in the game that women play slower and foursomes of women or containing women slow up course-wide pace of play. Marshaling at a public course in Everett, WA I found the exact opposite to be true.

      Women tend to play faster, I believe because generally they aren’t as worried about their games or as competitive as men.

      Reply

      Jay

      2 years ago

      This is off topic but this pandemic for me has ruined golf. Not for businesses and courses but for me. The average person now buys clubs and goes on to the course without learning etiquette. Proper etiquette is very important people take good serious. This new group has no respect nor do they care. So if you read this do everyone and yourself a favor and learn proper etiquette. Leaving pitch marks on the greens and divots and not repairing them makes good courses look bad. When someone is teeing off don’t pull up right next to them so your cart so they aren’t distracted. And don’t take forever looking for your ball take two minutes if you don’t find it to bad and move on….. It doesn’t surprise me that 147 weren’t females people in general are stupid and can’t follow simple rules

      Reply

      Chuck

      2 years ago

      Old man yells at clouds

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      While I’m not that angry, he does paint a decent picture of life at many public courses with all these newbies coming on board. If you’re not seeing that, you either play at a private course or the folks playing at your course must be incredibly well mannered.

      Beth McDaniel

      2 years ago

      My husband forwards me the articles he thinks I will find interesting, but I’ll take my own news, please.

      Regarding the survey, When Golf Digest bought and then destroyed Golf For Women magazine, they took the only good source for women about golf trends and equipment. The common magazines, all of which we receive, are totally male focused. Why bother to look at them? The editors have created a self fulfilling prophecy which the manufactures ie advertisers should take a stand against.

      Reply

      Susan Eno

      2 years ago

      I took the survey and enjoyed reading the results. Two questions I believed resulted in not very useful answers. What is your primary golf goal? One choice and the winner to have fun. Why would anyone do anything for recreation that wasn’t fun? It all comes down to what an individual’s definition of fun is. The other was concerning league play. I have a friend who goes south winters and talks about league play. But up at our club playing the same kind of events she is calling it summer team or Wednesday group like it’s a totally different kind of thing. One question that would have been interesting to me would be how often do you walk the course, exercise being another possible reason to play the game.

      Reply

      Doug Hansen

      2 years ago

      There is a Honda ad, a couple of years old by now, that answers your question, perhaps..

      A group of young men have concluded their round and are heading for the parking lot, griping all the way as they recount the day. When they arrive at their Honda Passport, one or two engage in a temper tantrum, “I hate this game what a terrible round I don’t know why I even play”, they scream as they angrily throw their clubs into the truck.

      Cut to a few minutes later and the final guy buckling up as the driver starts the engine and asks,. “Same time next week?”. “Yep see you all then”, the rest chime in.

      Ha!! Mansplainin’.

      Reply

      Steve S

      2 years ago

      To me this is the most interesting sentence in the article: “This survey received 778 responses of which 147 of those were disqualified because the respondent wasn’t a woman.”

      This means at least 147 men can’t read or are morons.

      Reply

      Stephen

      2 years ago

      I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. It’s possible 147 men can’t read AND are morons.

      Reply

      Job van Steenbergen

      2 years ago

      While I do understand the bias, I still think it hampers with objectivity. :
      In the graph that describes the perceptions of the quality of womens golf equipment, the only choices you publish for this particular question range from equal via worse to another sort of equal. There is no upper half of the scale – while it is not unperceivable (be it highly unlikely, from my perspective) that there are women who perceive the womens offering to be of higher quality, and/or more tailored to their needs. I haven’t read the questionaire, but that seems to skew the output in the direction of a certain preconception.
      I get that, for there’s certainly some history behind the “pink it and shrink it” meme.
      Still, I think it might be beneficial to be really neutral/objective in the phrasing of a questionaire AND/OR the presentation of the results. If we want to promote neutrality / equality, let’s at least do our part. Just my two cents worth.

      Reply

      Bob

      2 years ago

      Or they read the questions to their significant others and responded for them.

      Reply

      Mike

      2 years ago

      Maybe they got this confused with a golf dating website.

      Reply

      Chris

      2 years ago

      Thanks for paying attention to women who golf.

      Reply

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