What’s going to get millennial women off their phones and onto the golf course? Here’s a guest post by millennial Becky Gee.
Once considered the preserve of elitist old men, golf has had somewhat of a makeover in recent years. The world’s best women golfers have done away with their baggy, unflattering attire. Social media stars are revolutionizing the game. And the pioneering work of Women’s Golf Day is showing just how appealing golf can be.
But for all the inroads the sport is making, statistics continue to show that millennials are turning away from the sport in ever greater numbers. Few would disagree that if the sport is to win back this generation, fundamental changes need to be made to the way the sport is perceived in the non-golfing community. As a millennial golfer, here are five changes I believe need to happen.
1. TIME TO GET A MOVE ON
Industry leaders have long been stressing the need to shorten the game, and with most people unable to take four hours out of their hectic lives for a round of golf, this has never been more relevant. The success of the innovative GolfSixes format on the European Tour, with two-man teams playing six-hole matches, has demonstrated the potential for shorter, entertaining formats to appeal to a younger audience. For the game to succeed in harnessing the next generation of golfer it seems inevitable that golf clubs and associations need to follow suit.
2. HOW ABOUT A MAKEOVER?
The days when clubhouses were segregated by gender, or when members rejoiced in bringing out the tape measure to check the length of shorts, are thankfully behind us. Yet, the legacy of these attitudes persists. In most cases the perception of clubs as elitist, hostile environments couldn’t be further from the truth. Nonetheless, unless non-golfers are exposed to the reality of life on and off the course, the idea of picking up a club is unlikely to appeal.
3. INTRODUCE PAY-AS-YOU-PLAY MEMBERSHIPS
Several private clubs have already achieved substantial success by altering the way that golfers consume their memberships, and it seems inevitable that more clubs need to do so if they are to appeal to millennials. Entry fees and monthly dues may be feasible for the older golfer, but most youngsters don’t have the income to lay-out so much cash in one lump sum. The option of charging a reduced retainer to become a member, and then to base subsequent payments on how much one plays, has already reaped the rewards at certain venues. It appears the logical way to draw more working people into the game.
4. MIX UP THE FORMATS ON THE TOURS
Even as a dedicated golf fan, I sometimes grow tired of watching 72-hole stroke play events week in, week out on the PGA and LPGA Tours. If golf is to truly alter its image, you’ve got to think that this change must begin at the top, with the major tours concocting innovative and fun tournaments that leave you gripped to your screen from the get-go.
5. DROP THE DRESS CODES (YES, YOU LPGA)
Nothing divides the golfing world quite like the issue of dress code, but if the game is serious about appealing to millennials it seems clear that stringent regulations need to go. Girls want to resemble the likes of Michelle Wie, who looks stunning every week. If they are not allowed to do that, the game starts to become a lot less appealing. The LPGA’s move Monday to tighten the dress code will turn away millennial women golfers, not attract them.
Becky Gee is a freelance golf writer and travel blogger from the United Kingdom.