Founder / CEO
Women’s Golf Day
Interview with Matt Ward
Elisa A. Gaudet has 20 years of golf industry experience in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America including executing the 2002 EMC World Cup for the PGA TOUR. She also headed up sponsorship, marketing, and PR for the Tour de las Americas (Latin PGA Tour).
Gaudet founded Executive Golf International, a strategy-driven golf marketing firm that was responsible for creating Women’s Golf Day among many other notable projects and clients.
Gaudet is a graduate of George Mason University and has additionally studied at Stanford University, University of Valencia, Spain, Imperial College of London, and University of Paris Sorbonne. She splits her time between New York City and West Palm Beach, Florida.
The Women’s Golf Day Story:
High profile activation events have proven to be pivotal for Women’s Golf Day, due in large part to the team working year-round on this initiative. When broader audiences see the impact a one-day event can have on their customers, membership, and business, a ripple effect occurs. This is particularly true when people outside the golf world recognize the impact we have on people’s lives.
Three main events come to mind:
Each year, Women’s Golf Day starts in Australia and ends in Hawaii, with women around the world playing golf–many for the first time–as part of a global movement. Social media goes crazy and this past year we had 87 million impressions!
Second, the impact of Golf Channel’s live coverage from one international destination and one domestic. The telecast reaches people at home watching TV and shows the magnitude and diversity of this initiative – from Waterville Golf Links in Ireland to Pinehurst Resort.
Ringing the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange (May 2021) with our partners Callaway and TopGolf was the third momentous occasion for Women’s Golf Day. The representation of women from these organizations, as well as from Women’s Golf Day, PGA Tour Superstore, and PGA Tour shined a light on the evolution of the golf industry and the growing economic influence of women.
What was the genesis for Women’s Golf Day?
I had read a lot of data reports that said women were eager to try golf but left quickly after trying. I took the data pain points for women and flipped it and created a short format golf experience for beginners and existing players with an equal social component.
For the first two hours women take lessons or play 9 holes; then for the second two hours the focus is socializing. We really are about engaging women in a relaxed, fun format. Empowering them to participate at any level and to generate interest in the benefits of golf for business, family, and friendships. We want to be a resource for and support women in their golf journey.
How many women participated in the first and what kind of turnout – in terms of the number of individuals and countries do you see happening on June 7th?
We started in 2016 with a little over 400 locations in 28 countries. This past year, despite Covid, we had 880 locations in 68 countries participate. Over 50,000 women participate in Women’s Golf Day around the world on the same day.
What impact has the pandemic had on the momentum for women’s participation in golf?
According to the NGF (National Golf Foundation) 450,000 new female golfers came into the U.S. market in 2020 and now account for 25% of all golfers.
Are the “welcome” doors in golf more open than what they were previously — and how can they swing open even wider?
Yes, I feel like they are much more open and receptive particularly as the image of golf changes. However, the perception in many countries is still that golf is only a sport for older, white, wealthy males.
Time is a critical element in determining how much people can play. How do you see women meeting this challenge and is the broader golf industry doing its part in fitting the game within those daily realities?
This is precisely why Women’s Golf Day events are held during a four-hour time frame. For years, Jack Nicklaus has been advocating 12 holes as an acceptable format.
I love playing nine. I am more focused, and it does not consume a full day. This will be a factor going forward with people having less time and shorter attention spans.
The major golf organizations in the sport — USGA, PGA of America, R&A, PGA and LPGA Tours have all pushed for various efforts in promoting women’s golf. What letter grade would you give and what specific additional efforts should be implemented to assist even more so.
Ha! This one could get me in trouble. Everyone is doing their best with good intentions. I can say we have had the longest and most supportive relationship with the R&A.
We start each year, review where are goals are aligned and work toward benchmarks for Women’s Golf Day that are in line with their initiatives like the Women’s Golf Charter and Women’s Open. Together, we look at ways to engage certain markets like Japan, Argentina and France for example.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
Play 12 holes. Make it less time-consuming.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who was it from?
The advice I have been given or has been said in many ways by several different people and has served me well: Work hard and concentrate on running your own race. There are two quotes on my desk and are daily reminders for me:
– In golf as in life it is the follow through that makes the difference
– Be the change you want to see in the world
Biggest challenges — short and long term — for the expansion of women in golf is what?
Having everyone work together. Creating more unity, synergy, partnership among the golf organizations, facilities, and leadership. Courses and some in the industry still don’t take the female market seriously or see women as the serious economic influencers they are – for themselves and for their families.
How do you see those critical challenges being met?
Right now, the industry is strong. When it is in decline or less robust people are interested in tapping into additional markets and areas. The power of women and their economic muscle is perceived to be more valuable to the industry then. It really needs to be an ongoing initiative to engage and embrace women into the game.
How can people get involved in Women’s Golf Day?
Locations—private or public golf courses, driving ranges, and indoor facilities—may enroll their facilities online. Interested women can check our website for nearby locations hosting events and register to participate.
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