Much has changed since one July afternoon in 1991 when 28 women gathered for a golf clinic to begin learning golf in order to enhance their careers. That small group quickly transformed into a nationwide movement that became the Executive Women’s Golf Association.
Now known as the EWGA and celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, this international organization starts its third decade with the launch of Fair Way Forward™ to advocate for more positive golf course experiences for women.
This advocacy initiative is designed to give golf facilities the insights needed to become more “women friendly” so they can attract and keep more women golfers. For as long as the EWGA has existed, the golf industry has considered women as a key growth market for the game. And while some barriers have fallen – such as greater access to Saturday morning tee times – much of the dialog has not resulted in the positive changes women want.
The amateur women golfers who belong to the EWGA spoke their minds in a 2009 survey to identify the key issues that impact womens’ on-course experience. The issues that respondents identified include first and foremost, the condition and position of the forward tees, then the number of rated tees, the playability of the course, and an equal and fair approach to all golfers regardless of gender and skill level. Also identified were basics such as clean restrooms and healthy food choices.
This data paralleled a 2009 industry study funded by the Little Family Foundation and conducted on behalf of the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA). See www.golfwithwomen.com . With this outside research validating its internal survey, and with input and cooperation from Arthur Little and his wife, Jann Leeming, EWGA has revamped its earlier female-friendly golf course criteria that was introduced in 2006. Dubbed Fair Way Forward™, the initiative advocates for positive change by encouraging course managers to “put themselves in her shoes.”
A key factor is the length of golf holes from the tees that allow players of various skill levels and swing speeds a fair opportunity to reach greens in regulation. This means at least two sets of tees rated for women with the following range of yardages: 4,200 to 4,500 yards for first set; 4,800 to 5,100 yards for second set; with a recommended third set with a range of 5,400 – 5,700 yards. There is also a recommended yardage range for competitive golfers and the final recommendation that all tees be rated for women so they have a choice depending on their skill level and swing speed..
“By naming this program ‘Fair Way Forward™’ we want to emphasize forward thinking practices. This includes awareness of treating all customers fairly, the importance of the placement and condition of the forward tees, and having multiple tees from which women can choose,” says Pam Swensen, CEO of the EWGA. “The EWGA is representing what our members – amateur women golfers – want. It’s all about valuing them as customers by ensuring it’s an enjoyable experience from arriving in the parking lot through the 19th hole.”
While much has changed in 20 years, EWGA’s Fair Way Forward™ identifies what more can be done – many of them simple and affordable things – to engage women in golf and increase the likelihood that they will stay in the game.
The Fair Way Forward™ criteria will be utilized in the selection of EWGA association-wide events and to help EWGA members and chapters choose the best places to play to optimize enjoyment of the game. This initial awareness-building phase also will provide guidance to enlighten golf facilities about what women want – in a supportive, constructive manner. A recognition program is planned as the second-phase of this initiative. For the complete criteria, see the “About Us” section on the EWGA website at www.ewga.com
Since its founding in 1991 as the Executive Women’s Golf Association, the EWGA has touched the lives of more than 100,000 women connecting them to learn, play, and enjoy golf for business and fun. This tax-exempt association delivers a wide range of golf, social and networking activities for both new and experienced golfers.
A 2010 survey of EWGA members conducted by the PGA of America found that the average EWGA member plays 35 rounds per year. EWGA members spent an average of $4,533 on golf activities, merchandise and golf related travel, with each local EWGA chapter annually generating $550,000 in golf related spending and an average of 4,300 rounds of golf. With over 120 chapters throughout the United States, as well as international chapters in Canada, the EWGA represents nearly $70 million to the golf industry.
A survey of former EWGA members found that 90% of these women continued to play golf. While the former EWGA member survey did not include golf-related travel, this group’s golf spending accounted for an additional $98 million, totaling over $168 million and 1.7 million rounds of golf per year.
The EWGA is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. For more information about the association and its membership, visit www.ewga.comWHAT'S YOUR REACTION?