Take Your Daughter to the Course Week Helps Golf Compete for Girls’ Attention, Loyalty
CHARLESTON, S.C. (July 16, 2008) — Golf’s battle for new players is being waged on all fronts. But no where is the fight for attention and loyalty more important than it is with young girls.
At least that’s the opinion of several owners, general managers and professionals who participated in this month’s Take Your Daughter to
the Course Week, a player development program started nine years ago by the NGCOA that continues under the banner of the golf industry’s Play Golf America initiative.
“Absolutely we’re in a fight,” says Nancy Quarcelino, owner of the golf school that bears her name in Spring Hill, Tenn. “We’re competing for every girl we can get.”
Quarcelino tapped into her 4,000-name database and used her local media contacts to attract 24 young girls and parents to her facility outside Nashville. The turnout might have been greater if not for heavy rains on the morning of a free two-hour instructional clinic. But Quarcelino knows there’s more than inclement weather that’s limiting the growth of girls on the course.
“We’re competing against every team sport out there, along with the malls and everything else, she says.
The conventional wisdom often used to explain the disparity between participation rates of juniors, which the National Golf Foundation says favors boys 86 percent to 14 percent, is that girls prefer activities that offer more social interaction than they think golf affords.
“Golf is still a pretty lonely sport for girls,” says Vikki Vanderpool, the director of golf at the Little Course in Franklin, Tenn. “Plus it can be intimidating.”
Blissful Meadows Golf Club seems to be overcoming the intimidation factor. Forty girls took advantage of the club’s offer for a free clinic and 72 players participated in a tournament to close a week’s worth of Take Your Daughter activities at the Uxbridge, Mass., club. “We’re 100 percent focused on family golf,” says Matt Griffith, the club’s head professional. “We do a lot of programs geared to families, and we talk about family golf the entire year. The word gets around.”
Those who want to see girls’ participation increase at a faster pace say golf’s positive messages need to get around a lot more. “Pros and owners need to be working together on these programs more than they are,” Quarcelino says. “Parents need to be more motivated to go out and play with their kids, especially their daughters, but too many of them have too much on their plates.”
Becky Cashwell, the teaching professional at the Pine Forest Country Club in Summerville, S.C., remembers her father taking her to the course “five days a week” when she was growing up. She knows that’s not feasible for many parents these days. But she knows the investment is worth it for many girls and their families.
“Girls who shoot between 75 and 80 today are going to get college scholarships or at least some financial aid,” Cashwell says. “That’s not hard to do if you start at a young age.”
Nearly 1,300 courses in the U.S. and Canada participated in this year’s Take Your Daughter to the Course Week, July 7-13, offering free greens fees and instructional clinics to junior girls who were accompanied by a paying adult. The NGCOA supports participating facilities with marketing materials and assistance at the local and national level.
Take Your Daughter to the Course week is part of Play Golf America’s Family Golf Month promotion that encourages families to enjoy the game together. Golfing enthusiasts and Grammy Award winners Vince Gill and Amy Grant, along with their daughter Corrina, are the program’s spokesfamily.
For more information, go to www.ngcoa.org or www.PlayGolfAmerica.com.