Myerscough research outlines potential to grow women’s, girls’ and family golf

Wednesday 28 Feb 2018

University Centre Myerscough has been commissioned to conduct research into how to attract more women, girls and families into playing golf.

The findings, in a research report published by The R&A, show significant growth opportunity exists for golf if it can attract more women, girls and families into playing the sport more often.

Many countries are seeing a fall in the number of both males and females playing golf and the research report analyses the factors which affect whole family participation in golf, including women and girls, and details a number of useful practical recommendations for national golf bodies and golf clubs to help them encourage more women and girls to play the sport.

The R&A commissioned the International Institute for Golf Education, based at the University Centre Myerscough, to carry out the research, which brings together the findings of existing academic and industry research, with the individual views of a wide-ranging group of golf experts, to establish what we currently know.

Dr John Fry, University Centre Myerscough’s Research Lead for Sport, said: “The Women’s, Girls’, and Family Golf report brings together, for the first time in one place, the key  academic and industry research articles conducted on family sports participation.”

“The process involved searching scientific databases containing more than one million citations to peer-reviewed research papers, and selecting the most appropriate evidence based studies that can help underpin strategies to increase participation in golf”.

 “The research is supplemented with case studies of best practice, analysis from a number of industry experts, and offers a series of practical ‘action points’ golf clubs can adopt”.“Some of the key conclusions include the principle that equality in sports participation is a direct reflection of wider equality in the industry. Diversifying decision making boards, therefore, is a pre-requisite for increasing family participation”.

 “Furthermore, research indicates a central driver of family participation is not necessarily the actual playing of the game itself, but rather the social aspects of connecting with others that the golf environment offers. Golf, therefore, should look to avoid over dependence on rules heavy and complicated formats, with the sport promoted as more casual enjoyable social experience”.

“It has been found that increased time constraints in modern life lead people to pursue quicker and easier access activities, and the ‘golf product’ should be developed to reflect these changes, such as offering quicker alternative activities with different price structuring”.

“Golf has the difficult task of maintaining its heritage while also evolving to ensure it is well placed to meet the demands of contemporary society. At the same time, it can’t be expected that golf clubs offer ‘everything for everybody’, It will be increasingly important clubs asses their internal and external market factors, so they can tailor their offerings appropriately”.

The key themes identified in the report, which was produced by Dr John Fry and Philip Hall, include:

  • The importance of, firstly, establishing the optimum environment for family participation by being cognisant of the make-up of the modern family, and that the golf product should reflect this. Furthermore, studies show a direct link between equality in sports participation and wider measure gender equality, such as women in influential decision making positions in golf.
  • That parents are the chief factor underpinning families’ likelihood to play golf, and their motivations for their children taking part include having fun, improving health, and developing friendships, rather than formal competitions and complex rules.
  • Factors in encouraging long term family participation include the increasing desire for golf to provide opportunities for socialising and forming friendships, and to be adaptable and flexible given the time and cost constraints placed on the modern family
  • Children are commonly treated in the same way as adults in the sporting environment. Coaching, for example, is rarely differentiated and focuses on complex technical aspects, Rather, focus should be made on developing physical skills and fun, and should mature as the children do introducing golf technique later.
  • The need for the sport to evolve to meet the demands of contemporary society and, at the same time, protecting its history heritage. It will be increasingly important clubs asses their internal and external market factors, so they can tailor their offerings appropriately”. Furthermore, clubs should look to encourage memorable events for their customers, as that memory itself, or the ‘experience’, is increasingly replacing the ‘product’ of playing golf.

The research reflects The R&A’s continued drive to encourage more women, girls and families to play golf more regularly, working with its affiliates around the world to enhance golf’s appeal. 

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “The research demonstrates there is a tremendous opportunity for golf to grow its participation numbers and generate more income if it can attract more women, girls and families into playing the sport.

“We know that more work needs to be done to achieve this outcome at a time when there are concerns about declining participation levels and this report provides useful actions and guidance for our affiliates and clubs that can lead to tangible, positive outcomes for golf.”

You can read the report here

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by Dave Salmon

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