Golf For Women magazine has shut its doors.
In her parting column, editor Susan Reed makes some vague allusion to the magazine’s death being a result of the overall state of the economy, but I really don’t think that’s the case (in fact, in spite of all the doom and gloom of the move on media, we have yet to fall to the standard definition of a “recession.”)
Golf For Women has been in existence for six years, and according to Reed, has some 600,000 subscribers. That’s more subscribers than some other fairly well known magazines, such as Scientific American, Automobile Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Yankee, Guns and Ammo, Ski Magazine, Spin, and New York, among others.
So assuming that the magazine has not been badly mismanaged, its closing has to be a result of a dearth of advertising revenues. That, in course, implies that the major golf manufacturers, retailers , resorts, et.al., don’t think that women constitute an important segment of the golf market.
And that’s a very short-sighted perspective.
Women are the great, untapped market in golf. Just as there are tens of millions of male baby boomers retiring to lives of leisure, there also are tens of millions of female boomers doing the same thing. After years of being separated by careers, these couples are going to want to spend more time together. And if the husband is a dedicated golfer, the wife is going to want to play, too.
Just think about it. There are 75 million baby boomers retiring over the next twenty years. More than half of those are women. That’s probably 40 million potential golfers.
I see these women in ever increasing numbers on our local courses, mostly struggling down the fairway, trying to keep up with their husbands. But I’m also seeing increasing numbers of women foursomes out together.
Two such foursomes were ahead of me today. All eight of them were walking, pulling trolley carts behind them. Against the stereotype, they played quickly. My playing partner and I played two balls each and never had to wait.
A couple of weeks ago, at a local demo day there was a lady-of-a-certain-age who ruthlessly went through the poor rep’s limited supply of ladies clubs, before settling on a senior men’s driver. She could really hit the ball, and I thought at the time that it was a shame that there were fifty men’s drivers there in every configuration under the sun, but only half-a-dozen ladies clubs.
She saw me hitting a series of pathetic drives, and observed that my ball was too far back in my stance. And so it was. I fixed it and improved immediately.
I’ve also noticed that several local courses have offered beginning ladies golf clinics. It’s a good idea, but they need to do more.
The golf company that takes these women as seriously as they take the men can really position itself. And that doesn’t mean taking a man’s club, making it a little lighter and coloring it powder blue or pink. It means starting from scratch, and putting the same effort into research and development as they do with the men. Then they need to market that equipment—clubs, balls, bags, pull carts, and so on—with the same aggressive stance that they do with the men.
I think that Adams has started to do this with senior men. Maybe they could try it with women.
Let me repeat an earlier factoid: There are forty million female baby boomers reaching retirement age. They’re going to have a lot of time and money on their hands.
How many already play golf in some capacity? How many could be persuaded to play more golf? How many could be persuaded to take it up?
Quite a few, I’d bet.
In the meantime, here’s a suggestion for either Golf or Golf Digest. Every other month—instead of yet another article on the latest slice curing “move”—they should include a major section dedicated solely to women. Not a couple of tips, but the same package deal that they do with the special sections on the Majors.
Forty million retiring female baby boomers. Who’s going to tap that market?