Will France seize the opportunity to grow female golf participation?
As The 2018 Ryder Cup showcased 24 of the world’s top male players in Paris, research suggests that women in France are more interested in taking up golf than most other countries. But are the nation’s clubs and courses ready to take advantage of the opportunity?
In 2016, Syngenta’s global market research report The Global Economic Value of Increased Female Participation in Golf, revealed that 40% of women in France who do not play golf were either ‘interested’ or ‘very interested’ in taking up golf within the next two years.
Compared to the UK & Ireland (29%) and the United States (31%), latent demand for golf among women in France is comparatively high.
For the French golf industry – where women make up 28% of registered players – this is equivalent to a potential 4.5 million additional players, worth up to €3.6 billion a year.
In reality, of course, only a fraction of these prospects are likely to be converted, with multiple factors influencing potential customers’ decisions.
While ‘being outdoors’, ‘stress relief’ and ‘spending time with family and friends’ are the factors that attract women to golf, the research found, they can also be put off by the sport being ‘male-dominated’, its ‘intimidating club culture’ and ‘being an embarrassing game to learn for beginners’.
The question is, while there is a clear opportunity, will The Ryder Cup boost female numbers in France at all?
Television coverage of The Ryder Cup in France could be a key influencer. Globally, 62% of non-golfing females had seen golf on TV, with ‘word of mouth’ being the second most common exposure channel.
Among the French companies hoping that the public will switch on to golf is Open Golf Club, a leading network of 25 golf courses in France.
Laurent Boissonnas, CEO of Open Golf Club, says, “We absolutely see The Ryder Cup as an opportunity to attract and engage new players in France.
“At our venues, we focus on customer service and delivering memorable experiences on and off the golf course, making golf accessible, inclusive and enjoyable for all," reports Laurent (below).
“Across France, the picture is probably mixed and not all courses are going to be geared up to welcome new players. However, we have been supporters of the French Golf Federation’s work to make courses aware of the opportunities, as well as promoting the development of 100 new short courses and an education program designed to get more children playing.”
“Clearly, the research by Syngenta shows there is a specific opportunity in France to engage more females and families, and I hope the awareness from The Ryder Cup does result in an uplift."
Laurent Boissonnas added: "We have been building towards this – and our courses are certainly ready.”
For French clubs and courses looking to capitalise on the opportunity, the 2016 report also identified revealed a number of factors women say would encourage them to try golf:
- Easy access to affordable lessons
- Relaxed atmosphere and dress code
- Clubs available for hire so there’s no need to purchase equipment
- Group lessons with those of similar golfing capabilities
- Play based, non-technical learning on the course rather than on the range
- Play from distances on the course aligned to abilities