By Jann Leeming
Addressed to Most Female Golfers
If you are the average female golfer, you swing your driver 60 to 65 miles per hour (mph). Because you swing the club at a slower speed than the average man, you are
discriminated against almost every time you step on a golf course. Not blatantly the way you often are in the Pro Shop, but on a very subtle level. It’s in the golf course design itself!
A 65 mph swing speed translates mathematically to hitting drives 135-140 yards. Second shots are generally hit about 85 percent of
drives. This means that a woman whose average drive is 135 yards hits her second shot 115 yards. Simple math will tell you then that par 4s should be no longer than 250 yards if the 65 mph player is to hit the green in regulation. That’s hitting two well struck shots with her longest clubs! How many courses have par fours that are that short? Almost none!
Even courses saying they are designed with forward tees for players with 75 mph swing speeds, who hit their tee shots 160-165 yards are
often discriminatory. Distance to the green, in their case, should be no longer than 305 yards on a par 4. You won’t find many par 4s with yardages even that short.
Women with swing speeds between 60 and 75 miles per hour make up most of the female golfer population. That means that the majority of female golfers are unknowingly discriminated against every time they set foot on a golf course.
Most women have no idea that their hard earned money is being spent on courses that were designed primarily for players, generally men, with swing speeds in excess of 90 mph. Women simply do not do the math. How many women analyze scorecards to see how many greens they can reach in regulation? Do you know any? Women in our society are not encouraged to look at the world mathematically. As a result, most don’t know what their driver swing speed is or how far they hit their drives, so they never figure out that the course design is stacked against them. They blame themselves for their poor scores.
They think that hitting the ball a long way is all a matter of brute strength and so they think if they lift weights, work out more often,
take up running, Palates, yoga, you name it … they’ll be able to hit the ball further. Maybe, but not much. According to several top golf coaches, players are not able to increase their swing speeds significantly no matter what they try. The only exceptions are young, still-growing girls or younger women who are prepared to spend countless hours in the gym.
So just how discriminatory are most golf courses, you are probably asking yourself?
The overwhelming majority of courses have their most forward tees (let’s please forever banish the term “Ladies Tees”) ranging from 5000 to 5600 yards. On courses of these lengths, the average woman will be unable to reach many, if any, greens in regulation, with the possible exception of the occasional par 3. This means she will rarely have the chance to two putt for a par, never mind having a putt for birdie.
To put this in context, asking the average woman golfer to play courses of this length is equivalent to asking the average man (swing
speed 90mph, average drive 210 yards) to play a course of 7500 to 8400 yards!
The Impact discriminatory design has on the average female golfer is tremendous.
Slower swing speed players have handicaps that are 10 to 12 points higher than they would be if courses were designed and rated properly
for all players.
The reason is obvious:
- The average female golfer is forced to hit 14 to 18 more shots each round to reach the greens.
- That costs dearly in terms of time and energy. It is also discouraging, frustrating and tiring.
And to add insult to injury:
- Slower swing speed players are blamed for holding up play by longer hitters (generally men) saying (probably not so politely), that they have to “wait for those slow female golfers.”
- Impatient, faster swing speed players sometimes even hit into female foursomes in front of them, or call the course marshal, causing embarrassing incidents.
But most importantly:
- Slower swing speed players are denied the thrill of competing on a fair playing field.
Ignorance is not bliss!
Average female golfers, who love to play golf despite how difficult it is for them, have a variety of defense mechanisms to excuse their
lack of being able to score well:
You’ll often hear them saying things like:
- I don’t keep score.
- I only play to spend time with friends.
- I only play for the exercise.
- I only play because I like being outside.
- I only play 9 holes because playing 18 holes takes too long.
- I only play 9 holes because of my age.
- I don’t like to compete.
When I hear people say, “women aren’t competitive”, I cringe because it’s just not true.
Put a woman on a fair playing field and she’s likely to be just as competitive as any man out there!
Implications for the Golf Industry:
When slower swing speed female players finally come to the realization that they are being treated unfairly on most golf courses, even more will leave the game.
The industry keeps saying they want more female players. If that is true, it’s time for fundamental change. It’s time for “design fairness” on every golf course.