The First Call Inbox

Women's game ripe with growth opportunities

The First Call readers offer a range of options to grow the women's game, from creating employment opportunities to making the teeing grounds equitable

72nd U.S. Women's Open Championship
The U.S. Women's Open recently got a sizable purse increase that will benefit professional players such as Lexi Thompson, but readers believe there are other opportunities for growth in the women's game.

One of the biggest gripes my wife has about playing golf is the front tees are not far enough up to make the game relatively equal. For example, I hit my drives an average of 225 yards and my 7-iron 155 yards for a total of 380 yards. My wife’s average drive is 170 yards and her 7-iron is 115 yards for a total of 285 yards. Yet the front tees are only an average of 30 to 40 yards ahead of my tees. If the front tees were set up at 75% of the regular men’s tees, she would get much more enjoyment out of the game and a match would then be fairer between us. And our pace of play would be better as well.

Mick Morrell
Omaha, Neb.

— More women ion the instruction side.
— More options in the clothing lines for women who choose not to wear skirts.
— Some deference to tee boxes at all munis.
— Shorter number of holes, say 12 to 15 holes with some scoring that makes sense 
— Get golf courses to allow couples to play alone, and not put women in a position of feeling they have to play with people they may feel are much better than they are. Make them feel welcome and keep fear out of the equation.

Dennis Jamison
Alexandria, Va.

Make the tournaments easier to watch on TV and streaming so that more young girls and potential players will see them. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to watch women’s golf in prime time — even an important tournament or a major — only to find that the men and senior men are in prime time. The women are tape delayed and edited down to a couple of hours late in the afternoon or the evening. These girls are good. Let’s have the media acknowledge that by putting their money where their mouths are.

Carol Mirando
Fort Myers, Fla.

I think it is should be very obvious. More women should be hired in positions of importance throughout the industry. Golf has been ruled by men for too long. This has been a big turnoff to females considering participation in the sport. More female head pros, assistants and instructors would attract legions of women to this great game.

P.T. Smith
Clermont, Fla.

Lots of best practices to share:
— On course play in a mentored environment
— Social media communities
— Invite a woman to the golf course — to the range, to putt, to lunch, to play. The key is to go with her.

Debbie Waitkus
Phoenix, Ariz.

Women have long said that one of the most important things in deciding where to play is on-course restrooms. Yes, the facilities have gotten better, but some courses should step back and take a long look at what they present to women.

One other item is to introduce a women’s two-for-one day. This could be done mid-week during a time of day when courses aren’t too crowded. As a woman, bring a friend along to play and you’re only charged for one tee time. I’m sure men will complain about the lack of gender inclusion, but it’s a way to get women on the course. No different than a Happy Hour price at the pub.

Jerry Walters
Denver, Colo.

Progress may be slow simply due to economic differences between the men’s and women’s professional games. The USGA is certainly doing its part by increasing the USWO purse. However, the question that remains unanswered by The First Call et al. is why the U.S. Women's Open loses over $10 million dollars while the men’s tournament makes tens of millions in profit. 

Stephen Molinelli
San Francisco, Calif.

Make them seem to enjoy the game and the fans, like Arnie [Palmer] did. Wave, smile and give autographs. [The players] seem to act like it is all about them.

Bruce Benkusky
Marion, Iowa

Did you ever hear of pickleball, a smaller version of tennis having phenomenal national growth? Why has this become so popular? Well, because the game is quick, time efficient and enjoyable. So, what about golf?

Here’s the shorter version of golf: Have golfers start by playing the new "hybrid" golf ball, which is developed to be proportional (distance-to-weight) and for quick and easy play on shorter golf courses. Provide a traditional quick-play format, keeping more golfers playing at a higher level while enjoying the experience and without the usual frustrations and difficulty of the standard game. Meets U.S. golf standards. Made in the USA.

Duane Peterson
Loveland, Ohio

I have developed or have been a part of these ideas:
— Free group instruction
— Walk the course, no clubs
— Assume nothing
— Baby steps, women only think they have an interest

After six to 10 group lessons, do three-hole rounds with mentors/coaches. Once you set the new players up, assign each one a specific mentor; a woman from the club’s golf association.

Keep a mentor, coaching, teaching program for 2 seasons. Do not stop early. A secret is to persist, to help them get on the course, to have each newbie play with fun people.

Jack Dillon
Orlando, Fla.

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