NZ Golf's short-format success with women
She Loves Golf, New Zealand Golf’s campaign to drive female participation, has found short-format events are a key tool in attracting women to the sport.
A series of informal six-hole sessions held in Auckland has proved incredibly popular, attracting more than 170 players, many of whom were first-timers to the game.
Keeping the events fun, fast and social, with an emphasis on meeting people and practising new skills in a relaxed environment, earned high praise from the women taking part, with one participant saying: “It was wonderful, low cost, fun and an event that really eliminates all the barriers to playing.”
Research by Syngenta Growing Golf has found that time constraints is one of the biggest factors keeping women off the course, and that women are more likely to stay engaged in the game if there was more flexibility in terms of number of holes.
She Loves Golf is trying to remove this and other obstacles perceived by women, such as dress code and intimidating competition.
“She Loves Golf has been a successful initiative promoting golf for women,” says Participation Manager Thiem Nguyen. “A key part is recognising that for females it is not all about the golf, there’s a social element that is important.
“The main purpose is to showcase to females that golf is welcoming and fun; it’s a great game for life. We’re trying to tell women that dress code doesn’t matter, you can play as many holes as you like and keeping score is not important.
“It’s about letting women know that it’s okay to wear your gym gear on the green, just get out there and have a go.”
The success of the scheme is contributing to promising progress on the national scale too. Females now make up 30% of golfers in New Zealand, compared to the global average of 25%.
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New Zealand Golf is not the first organisation to embrace short-format golf. The European Tour launched its GolfSixes tournament in 2017, and new clubs around the world are opening with shorter courses, such as Education City Golf Club in Qatar, which has a nine- and a six-hole course, both floodlit.
Is time still an issue?
It remains to be seen if lack of time is as significant a hurdle in the post-COVID-19 era, however. A study by Accenture into the social impact of the pandemic found that the pace of daily life has slowed, and that people are prioritising leisure time.
Add to that a far higher percentage of employees working from home – and intending to do so even once the pandemic is over – and people may have more time to spend either on the golf course or engaging in other leisure pursuits.
Regardless, She Loves Golf will continue to run short-format events as they have proved so popular since the initiative began in 2015, when a teenage Lydia Ko was not only breaking records all over the world but inspiring junior girls to play golf in her native New Zealand.
Find out more about She Loves Golf.