Women and the Game of Golf
Along with the new millennium has come a noticeable surge in the popularity of womens golf. The number of both professional and amateur female golfers has increased significantly. That means the face of golf is changing in dramatic fashion, as golf is quickly losing its reputation as an “old boys’ game.”
Although it may surprise some, women have played professional golf since the nineteenth century. But traditionally, golf has been a hugely male-dominated sport, with many golfing clubs not even permitting women players to set foot on their greens. The journey to playing golf has not been a painless road for aspiring women.
Typically, it takes a spark of some sort to set off an explosive rise in popularity for a particular sport. For men’s golf, that spark was Tiger Woods, whose unmatched achievements over the last decade or so spurred the popularity of golf to unprecedented levels. It is quite interesting to note that, as a boy, Tiger was denied entry into a golfing club simply because of the color of his skin, a club which now welcomes the golfing superstar with open arms.
In the world of women’s golf, sensational teenager Michelle Wie has without doubt been a catalyst in bringing great attention to the sport of women’s golf in general, as she has sought to use her impressive golfing abilities to challenge men head to head. Similarly to Woods, perhaps her efforts will help eradicate the last barriers standing in the path of women golfers, including those few remaining clubs that still discriminate toward female golfers.
Apart from Wie’s actual level of success in her quest to play with the men, in the past five years, women’s golf has witnessed a huge rise in popularity partly thanks to her efforts as well as the brilliant play of many other great women golfers such as Annika Sorenstam. And that popularity is only expected to increase. Women are now entering the game at an unprecedented pace, with the fastest rising demographic taking up the sport being women in their 20s and younger.
Interestingly, however, there is a slight difference in the manner in which women and men approach the sport. Women tend to view golf primarily as a social activity with competitive undertones, while men see golf primarily as a competitive activity with social undertones. So, while men are obsessing over their score, women are just trying to have a good time.
But regardless of the motives, women have indisputably embraced golfPsychology Articles, and the phenomenon has only benefited the game.
Ladies Who Golf
Why do ladies and men’s approaches to golf seem to differ so much? Of course, this is a generalization…but one always hears men harping on about this or that lady who “doesn’t hit the ball that far”, but it “stays on the fairway”; this accompanied by an intonation or expression which infers that it’s not really fair, almost as if women cheat by not hitting it as hard or as far as the men – that it’s not “proper” golf!
By comparison of course, you more often hear wonderful stories of the hugest slice or hook that this MAN hit, or the incredible distance this shot went…or the terrible tantrums such and such a man displays to all and sundry. I personally recall a wonderfully entertaining moment while playing with three gentlemen. One tees up on a relatively straight and open par 5, swishes his driver a few times and then grips his jaw in readiness for the strike, sending the ball three hundred yards straight left into a field of unsuspecting cows. The replacement ball, still hit with the same force (if not more), flies three hundred yards straight right; and one of my other playing partners commented that whilst both balls had travelled an enormous distance, there was still greater yardage between the points where they eventually came to rest! What a wonderfully entertaining game this is!
The fact is that women tend to, in general, be more cautious than men. And this is part of our genetic programming. Going back to “cave man” days, a man had more chance of survival if he displayed strength and power and so he had to take risks and go out and secure the food and other necessities for the survival of himself and his mate. The woman, on the other hand, learnt that it was better to be more cautious and relied on the man to look after her. Men in those earlier days were forced to compete whilst women learnt to be rather more submissive. The effect of this programming is evident in our genetic disposition in the current day.
If you watch young children you will see that boys are more inclined to take things apart, to see how things work, etc, whereas girls are more likely to ask to be shown what to do, and are more inclined to look after things in their present form instead to destroying them in the interests of curiosity.
Parents also encourage their children to learn to play in different ways and to perform gender specific roles. Different toys and games are provided depending on the gender and preconceived ideas of how a man should act or a woman should act is imposed upon the growing psyche. Thus we are not only genetically programmed but also conditioned through experience to learn, act and behave differently.
“Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” as the bestselling book is titled, and so it should come as no surprise that women and men approach the game of golf in unique gender specific ways. And, as those of you who have read past articles of mine will know I keep saying, everything in life starts with a thought; how you think about something and your mental approach and expectations will dictate your outcome. You play golf from the platform of you the person, you the woman or you the man.
When beginning to play this wonderful and challenging game, men are more likely to try different things, to explore, to try and work out how it works, to test boundaries and see how far they can hit the ball, how hard they can hit it and so on. Women are more likely to seek instruction and guidance, and to do as they are told. Men are more inclined to be competitive whilst women see it more as a game, a great walk, good company, a bit of exercise, etc. I’m generalizing here, so please do not take offence.
Thus, in general, the advice I would give to a woman who is thinking about taking up this game of golf, is to book a course of lessons with a good instructor. Don’t listen to that really helpful guy who plays off 18 and thinks he knows the answer to every golfing problem – go to someone who has proven both his/her knowledge of the game and his/her ability to teach. That helpful guy probably does know what you need to know but he is probably not an expert in the art of teaching and passing on his knowledge. Make sure you are shown the right things in the right way. And, unless you have an unusually harmonious relationship with your husband, don’t risk your marriage by getting him to show you how to play either!
Recognize that genetic programming points to the fact that you are most likely to feel comfortable and confident when you are shown what to do and act upon this awareness. Golf is a game which relies upon confidence – it either feels right or it doesn’t, the club and ball look and feel right or they don’t. When you are confident your rhythm is good, your swing is smooth, you are more likely to hit the ball out of the sweet spot and create the shot you desire…and this leads to feelings of achievement, satisfaction, pride…and ultimately greater enjoyment of the game, coupled with a sense of smug satisfaction that you can hit the ball a nice distance and keep it in play on the fairway, much to the envy of many a male golfer!
Golfing confidence comes from knowing that you know what to do and practicing until what you are attempting becomes consistent. So practice between lessons, but make sure that its fun – get friends to go and practice as well, have a chat and a laugh along the way. See practice as a game as well, rather than a chore.
Once you’ve learnt to hit the ball reasonably well, and you feel confident, and you have a measure of control, then you can start to take a few risks, explore different shots and challenge your boundaries. Take calculated “risks” in your game only when you have the confidence to do so. Taking unnecessary risks before you feel comfortable with your game is one very good way to destroy not only your confidence but your enjoyment and desire to play this great game.
Now…I have really, really generalized. If you are a lady who loves a challenge, thrives on risk, and likes to know the nuts and bolts of how everything works…then I’d prescribe a much more adventurous and innovative approach to the game. Take a look at www.instinctivegolf.com and consider this approach to golf coaching. It encourages you to learn through self exploration, as opposed to just being told what to do. You will learn to understand the complexities of this game, and explore, and continually push against boundaries to create an ever more creative and inspired game of golf.
Golf is a game, but most people will agree that they enjoy it more when they play better than when their game is in tatters. So recognize that golf is a game of confidence, become aware of your own preferred learning style and learn from within this basis of awareness. In this way you will be comfortable and confident and really enjoy your golf.