Recently, I was lucky enough to talk with Alastair Spink, the Head Coach at love.golf about the challenges and achievements of their program. For those of you who have not heard about this initiative, it is a social golf experience designed specifically for women. The aim of the program is to grow the game among women.
Check out, below my interview with Alastair Spink:
What are your challenges to attract women to start learning golf?
Research continues to illustrate that many women regard golf and golf clubs as male dominated, that golf takes too much time to fit in with our modern lifestyles and it is perceived to be very hard to learn. That’s why we have designed love.golf – to meet those challenges. We don’t spend hours on the practice range learning a series of skills, we get out on the golf course and play in the very first lesson. Our love.golf coaches still introduce new skills, but when they are needed and whenever possible contextualised through playing the actual game.
Syngenta‘s most recent research report, The Global Economic Value of Increased Female Participation in Golf also highlights a number of barriers that women come up against within clubs, such as lack of signage at clubs, strict dress codes, and websites which aren’t user-friendly. The report goes on to identify how clubs can become more female-friendly and what value this could bring to the club.
How many women were introduced so far to golf via love.golf?
love.golf first started at Fynn Valley Golf Club, in Suffolk, where we have introduced over 350 women to the game. Now, in partnership with Syngenta, we have started to roll out love.golf across the UK. In the subsequent 12 months, we have added a further 300+ women to the love.golf community of like-minded women, coaches and golf clubs.
We also introduced over 70 women to love.golf at the 2017 SSE Women’s Invitational earlier this year, with fantastic feedback.
Who are supporting love.golf and what motivates them to do so?
It is essential that our love.golf coaches share our passion for developing and supporting female participation. Our partnership with TGI Golf involves love.golf providing market intelligence and practical advice on how to successfully reach, engage and convert new female customers.
TGI Golf was impressed with our alternative, customer-centric approach to introducing women to golf and the commercial opportunities it offers their Partners and were very interested to see how our coaches have seen revenue increases in a number of different areas.
The educational element is also a key part of love.golf: as well as the practical delivery, we support coaches through regular online discussion and webinars to ensure they are equipped with the latest research and knowledge, as well as holding an annual love.golf coaches conference. All of our coaches support each other and share experiences – a scenario that is perhaps in contrast to many coaches working in isolation, unsure or perhaps unwilling to build and share their knowledge.
How do you build awareness and trust for love.golf among women?
Awareness – we illustrate that we are different to other coaching initiatives by openly challenging many of those previously mentioned perceptions. love.golf coaching sessions are active, fast and engaging. We want women to fall in love with golf by playing the game, not by hitting hundreds of golf balls on a range or practice facility.
Trust – all of our love.golfers are invited to complete a coaching journal and therefore have an opportunity to take as a sense of ownership for our projects. We want to hear of their experiences, their challenges and goals so that we can continue to shape our brand and ensure we remain current and relevant.
How do you keep up the engagement with the program and golf after learning of the basics (a quasi “post-purchase program”)?
love.golf comprises of a series of 9 hours of coaching, typically based over 6 weeks. The first project builds confidence and empowerment through playing and self-discovery. We then have followed on love.golf projects as the group continues to learn and explore new experiences and skills.
Once the women have joined love.golf, we want them to continue to be part of our sharing and supportive community, irrespective of whether they decide to join a golf club or just continue to play on a ‘pay as you go’ basis.
The key is maintaining flexibility so that the women can fit love.golf and golf in general into their lives. So far, the retention rate for the love.golf projects is around 80%.
Peter Myers, love.golf coach at The Dunes Golf Centre has created a fantastic community of love.golfers. When he first started love.golf, just last year, nearby Rosehearty Golf Club had only one female member, now they have over 40 – all love.golf participants – and he is more than happy to share his experiences with the rest of the coaching team to help them develop their own communities and members.
As a result, some of our love.golf coaches have also put into place love.golf-specific memberships for the women, in partnership with their clubs and this is something we hope to develop further as love.golf grows.