What's in it for Women?

Thoughts on increasing Women's Participation in Golf

Here's an opinion from an avid golfer with a wife and two daughters who have never warmed up to the game. Increasing the participation rates of women is always cited as one of the modern Golf Industry’s greatest initiatives. But any analysis screams that the Industry seems to do everything it can to achieve the opposite.

The Challenges of Attracting Women to Golf
Golf has always struggled to attract women. Stereotypes about golf being a male-dominated sport and the historically limited opportunities for women to learn and play the game have all contributed to this issue. The numbers speak for themselves - only 24% of golfers in the US are women, according to the National Golf Foundation's 2020 report.

The simplest answer is that the biggest barrier to women's participation in golf is the perception that it’s not welcoming or inclusive. That women often feel intimidated by the male-dominated culture of golf and the outdated stereotypes that go along with it. Add to that modern golf’s barriers and you have very little encouragement for many women to even consider golf as a viable leisure activity.

It's true, but I think there's more to it. It's not just a problem for women.

The Root Problem: For Most People, Modern Golf is Not Fun

Golf, as presented by the modern Golf Industry, is not fun or engaging for almost everybody. Less than 10% of the population call themselves golfers. 80% of golfers cannot consistently break 100. Golf has a general reputation as being too difficult, too time-consuming, and too expensive. Even more so for women, who often face additional barriers such as limited access to equipment, courses, and female role models.

The common solution employed to accommodate female participation in golf is the use of separate tees. While this approach may seem logical on the surface, it likely adds to the problem. Separate tees for women are usually located closer to the green than the men's tees. This can make the course more playable, but it also reinforces the idea that women cannot be as capable as men and that golf is a sport that is divided by gender. This surely makes it harder for many women to feel welcome and included in the sport.

In my case, a husband and dad teaching his wife and daughters to play the game, there is also the issue that, on the course we usually play, we are often separated from one another until we meet briefly around the green.

How to Make Golf More Fun: It’s All About Passion

Golf is a game of passion. Passion to improve. Passion to compete. Passion to win. Passion for nature. Passion for landscapes. Passion for history.

The 10% of golfers who would call themselves “passionate” spend most of the money in the Golf Industry, constantly upgrading equipment, playing dozens of rounds, travelling to iconic golf destinations, watching the game through all sorts of media and consuming its advertising.

To make golf more fun and engaging for women, we need to focus here. Here’s the thing about passion: Passion is obscured by barriers. Passion exists on the other side of barriers. Remove the barriers and you will discover passion.

This is not a gender issue. There is not a separate solution for women that will make them want to come to golf. The solution for increasing female participation is the same one that will increase participation for everyone. Remove the barriers and find the fun.

Our golf venture believes that introducing the game to golfers in the following manner will lead them through all the game’s barriers to help them discover the passion and will dramatically increase golf participation rates for women, and for most men:


Provide standardized equipment during the learning phase. This can remove the worry and potential embarrassment about fitting in and make it easier for beginners to get started. Providing two or three clubs only can also greatly simplify the learning process.

Fewer tee blocks - ideally three -differentiated by ability as opposed to gender, can also help to make the game more accessible and inclusive. Currently, most women have no tees to graduate to as they improve. This removes a certain amount of incentive.

Change the format. While stroke play is the best way to conduct professional tournaments and large day competitions, match play - the way golf was invented - is better in every other way. Stableford is a solution as well.


Becoming proficient with one or two clubs is logically faster and easier than learning to become proficient with 14.

Make the goal easy to understand. Golf looks very confusing to the new entrant. New golfers need to understand the game in very simple terms. There is one goal in golf - get the ball into the hole in the fewest strokes possible. Period. It has nothing to do with how you look doing it.

The first key to achieving this goal is to hit the ball every time you swing at it.

Encourage "shotmaking"

Using one club is the fastest way to get to the point of knowing you will hit the ball. Many golfers never get to this point and leave the game. The output of truly believing that you will hit the ball every time you swing at it is . . . creativity. Creativity is the beginning of fun.

When golfers are no longer worried about the mechanical process of hitting the ball, their minds will start to focus on a playing style and philosophy that appeals to them. Adding in that mental process leads to shotmaking.

Shotmaking is the highly-engaged mind working out different ways to get the ball in the hole, based on all the inputs – ball-striking ability and consistency, terrain, climate, pressure, past experiences. The mind loves to solution, so it’s the variety of shotmaking that keeps it excited.


The greatest satisfaction in golf is the ability to hit a special shot under pressure. Pressure involves the possibility of failure, which makes success all the more rewarding.

Appropriate competition adds appropriate pressure to a player’s shotmaking, making the game more exciting for everyone, including beginners. It makes it much more interesting to watch as well.

Playing matches against equal competition sooner than later greatly enhances the beginning player’s skills and opens many more opportunities for achievement and satisfaction.


Feedback and rewards are powerful motivators for beginners. Having more forums or arenas for beginning golfers to achieve - more competitions - is an important goal.

Add to this the potential of modern technology - the ease of video capture; the ease of creating engaging content; the number of social media and broadcast outlets available to feature content. Giving new golfers outlets to realistically achieve notoriety and influence can motivate them to become passionate.

A Solution?

The Mashie”, an IMRSV golf school held at iconic golf properties, is a teaching method and competition that has the golfer using only a 7-iron (the “mashie”) and a putter. We believe that this format has the potential to satisfy the conditions laid out above. In most cases, with the golfer's permission, we will also film "The Mashie" as an ongoing YouTube series.

We believe that by using only a 7-iron in competition for 4 or 5 rounds, in a short timeframe, golfers can quickly become shotmakers. Our method has great historical support. It closely adheres to the teaching methods of the great Harry Vardon. In his book "The Complete Golfer", Vardon emphasized that any beginner who chooses to use only one club during the learning process could look to become a scratch golfer in a very short period. Those golfers who start with the entire set are almost guaranteed to be doomed to a lifetime of bad and unenjoyable golf.

One of our key goals in developing the "Mashie" events is to increase women's participation in golf. We believe that, properly adhered to, this formoat will be more fun and more motivating. We believe that it's the best way for new golfers to get significantly better at the game in a short period. As well, distilling the game down to a 7-iron greatly narrows the traditional distance gap between men and women and allows for new demographics to compete sooner on an equal level.

Starting this Fall, on various stunning Scottish links courses, we’ll put our Mashie theory to the test. Stay tuned for the results.