According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), the number of female golfers in the U.S. rose by 450,000 in 2020. Pine Valley, the number one ranked course in the U.S., is FINALLY admitting women members — and unrestricted at that! Younger female golfers are also increasing, making up close to 40% of junior golfers. Golf companies have begun to cater more to women with their products, but is their marketing keeping up? With the northern golf season kicking off, we talked to female golfers between the ages of 30 and 45 to gauge their thoughts. Our exercise produced a few key takeaways that can help the golf industry better engage with female golfers.
The golfers surveyed wanted to be known as just that: golfers. Too often in ads, the female golfers shown are overtly sexy, wearing short skorts and flirting with men on the course. The women we spoke with have very busy lives and play golf for a lot of the same reasons men do: competition, as an escape (especially now), to enjoy the outdoors, and of course to spend time with friends and family. These women take golf seriously, putting in the hours on the driving range to improve their game.
Women don’t need to see famous female athletes or even women for that matter! What do they want to see? Real people, great products, and messaging that talks to their game. We showed the golfers several TV spots and the ads they overwhelmingly selected their favorite were those that showcased men, authentically. When we dug a little deeper, the reasoning goes back to the first point: all the ads with female golfers in them were perceived as inauthentic. A couple of respondents called out that in one ad we showed, the woman’s swing was so bad she never would have made contact with the ball. So, make sure every golfer you show — male or female — has a nice swing!
The golfers we surveyed made it clear they prefer the term “women’s” to “ladies’” in the naming of golf products, as well as strong names like Callaway’s Diablo and Top Flite’s Empower. All that being said, some pink is still fun!
Although female golfers play for many of the same reasons as men and can relate to male talent in ads, that doesn’t mean there aren’t distinct differences that should be addressed in marketing messaging or that they don’t want to see female athletes in ads. In the past few years, many sports brands have started to authentically incorporate more women into their advertising. Hopefully golf companies can help lead the change. Now let’s all have another great season moving the game forward!
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