How to build a women’s golf community
Kat Chaszczewski remembers well the day she introduced women who met as strangers and left as friends at one of her social events.
The British PGA Specialist golf coach, who is based in southern counties Hampshire and West Sussex, organised a Winter fun competition for 36 women who had been attending different group coaching sessions.
Putting her skills to use, Kat organised the teams with the idea of connecting women she thought would get along together, including eight women in their 20s-30s split into two groups.
“When we went in for the meal afterwards they all sat together, they grabbed a table and before the starters even came out they’d made a WhatsApp group,” Kat told Syngenta Golf.
“This particular group all came on a beginners coaching trip I organised to Portugal the following year and continue to play and socialise together. Most now have handicaps and are great friends.
“One of the women organised a meet up before Christmas, where we played nine holes and went out for dinner. We’re doing it again this month.
“That for me is a really important part of the whole process and helps keep women in golf – it’s creating those connections and providing opportunities for those connections. The social aspect is really important.”
Kat said she really started to try to fuse women and golf together as a teaching pro over a decade ago– when she left Rustington Golf Centre in 2019 after nine years there she remained in touch with a large number of the players she’d met and introduced to the game.
“I didn’t really want to let that go – they’re my friends too,” she said.
“It’s quite a challenge but I feel part of my role is a connector of people as well as a coach.”
Kat made the decision to become part of the love.golf coaching community in 2019, allowing her to double down on her passion to introduce women to the game and for them to create lasting social bonds together. The numbers of groups on Kat’s coaching books continues to flourish.
Secrets to Kat’s success
How can other coaches replicate Kat’s success and build their own community of golfers? Kat breaks down her most effective tactics for winning new customers:
Word of mouth
“Word of mouth is a good starting point to build your groups up. I tend to get a lot of repeat business so I am always thinking of new opportunities for existing clients whether it’s an advanced class, clinic, social game or coaching holiday. You have to constantly evolve your business to trigger new referrals.”
“Facebook has undoubtedly been my most effective mechanism for finding new clients. Promoting a taster session either through paid advertising, or joining community Facebook pages and sharing the information there.
“Community pages have been amazing at spreading the word and reaching women who might not ordinarily think of trying golf. Most community pages are happy for you to post information regarding taster sessions providing it’s not too promotional, so I omit pricing. One of the key things to do though is ensure you follow up on leads.
“I get a lot of people saying they’re interested in attending but they don’t always get in touch with you directly, they just comment so it’s really important to follow up. You’ve got to be proactive and not be afraid to go back to them to establish a dialogue.”
“It sounds basic, but it’s so important to be super organized. I keep a spreadsheet with contact details for new leads and list how I’ve communicated with them.
“You also need to diarize classes so you can get information out to them as soon as possible. I am flexible with my class dates so that they don’t have to attend every session. These days people are so busy or have shift work and find it difficult to commit to the same day/time each week.
“There’s so much to learn in golf that they can go back to that class at a later session or have a 1:1 to catch up if they really want to.”
Coach groups? Or individuals?
“Group coaching has been a huge part of my commercial success – contributing approximately 25% of my coaching income but in reality it’s much more. I’ve gone on to coach many group participants on an individual basis, or been introduced to a partner, friend or child of a participant who has gone on to receive coaching.
“I also started my coaching breaks in 2013 off the back of the success of my group coaching sessions.”
Looking to the future
Kat’s next challenge starts early in 2022 as she leaves Hurtmore Golf Club in Surrey for Hampshire’s Waterlooville Golf Club and Sussex 9-hole layout Selsey Golf Club, no easy task as we still adapt to life during the Covid pandemic.
“The last two years have been very stressful with Covid. Golf creates an opportunity to switch off from all the outside distractions and the demands of work and family.
“Learning to play provides the chance to have a break and switch off as they engage in the process of learning, which is something I’ve heard from a lot of women over the past year, much more than I’ve heard before which is interesting.”
There remains work to do to keep women – and players of all genders and abilities – in the sport and Kat identifies tee box changes and the new world handicap system as two positives.
“Let’s not make golf even harder, let’s make it easier. Not just for women but for all golfers.”