Sunday, March 8, 2009

Golf Forums - Where are the women?

Last week, I published a post about the lack of women in golf. A number of my on & offline golfing friends chipped in and helped provide some great opinions and advice on that subject. This week I want to talk about the lack of women in golf forums. Why are there so few and what needs to be done to change that?

Let's take a look at some of the popular golf forums out there (data provided by Quantcast):


Notice a pattern? There are significantly more men on golf forums than women - about 3 times as many. What can be done to equalize things a bit?

Once again, I'm calling on my forum friends to tell me what they think - why do so few women join in on the dialogue and what needs to be done to increase their numbers?

First, let's ask Aimee:


Aimee reiterated similar sentiments about this subject as she did about why so few women play the game, "Golf is still seen like a fraternity or men's club; there is a fair amount of misogyny on the boards."

The key to get more women into the forums? "Just have women that you know join up and post. If you don't feel like you are alone out there it is easier to join in."

I can see that. Safety in numbers and all that.



Here's what Apryl had to say...



"I believe the "men only" mentality that is prevalent on the forums keeps many ladies away. I've written articles that people have made comments like, "Amen, brother". They assumed that everyone writing was male. It almost seems like women are supposed to stay in the LPGA forum and talk about fashion if they are to be there at all."

So how do we change that? "You got me there! I'm not sure what would get more women to participate. If women feel welcome on the forums they will likely go and stay as active particpants."

Hmmm...so women don't feel welcome. I wonder if the forum owners know that or even care?

So what does the forum funny girl, Christy, think?





"Women aren't supposed to be knowledgeable or outspoken about anything regarding sports. I also attribute low numbers online to the theory that women are hesitant to share information online for fear of stalkers or identity theft."


Wow, I never thought of the stalker or identity theft issue. So what can be done? "I dunno. It takes a special kind of person to get on the forums and brave the waters. If I felt like I met someone who has the passion, I would definitely invite them to check it out. It's so funny....allrecipes.com is so big....why can't golf be too??? HAHAHA!!"

Interesting comparison. I thought I'd check out allrecipes and see their makeup. The split, according to Quantcast 37% men / 63% women. Makes you wonder if the men don't feel welcome in the kitchen ;)


Patricia is extremely active online with her blog, on facebook and twitter. Although not a big fan of forums (Golf Girl prefers to connect and exchange ideas on Twitter, sometimes on Facebook or her favorite blogs because she finds more interesting people there), Patricia is an expert in understanding the issues of women golfers online...



"Currently a lot of the women who do play golf are 50 and over, and that demographic is just now getting on-line. There are exceptions but many are just now becoming really active on the internet. I think you'll see that change quickly...very quickly in the coming years, as everyone gets high speed connections and print media disappears."

So, what can we do? "Evangelize as much as possible, get your url out anywhere women golfer congregate. Do what we're doing :o)"


Now, I should be including what Kevin had to say about this subject, but after talking with him about it on the phone for about 1/2 hour, I realized his experience deserved its own article. Check it out in Inside Golf Magazine: Golf Forums - The Naked Truth.



But Kevin did say, based on his wife's comments, that if the forums offered more topics that interested women, like golf fashion, then maybe more women would participate.

So, it would seem that women golfers don't join forums for the same reason that women don't take up golf in the first place. Women don't feel welcome in those male dominated worlds.


That may be true, but I think getting more women to participate in golf forums goes beyond putting out a Welcome Mat. I've been participating in half a dozen golf forums for just over a year now and it's pretty evident to me that the women who do join in on the discussions are a unique breed. They tend to be quite confident and can dish it out as well as take it. They usually have a pretty decent golf game and are not afraid to mix it up with the boys. These ladies are thick skinned; they are NOT your average women golfers.

Most women I know would be quite amazed at the "discussions" that take place on golf forums. Forum members can be brutal at times. During the Big Break series, the contestants were recommended NOT to read the forums for good reason. I was the first one to second that recommendation. I still can't believe what forum members said about the ladies on BB Ka'anapali. It was sad actually.

Yes, I certainly have seen some nasty stuff out there. I remember a young woman posting a question on a forum about why some guys don't like playing with women who are better than they are. The responses got really ugly and I ended up sending her a personal note pleading"Say no more and walk away from this thread. You're digging yourself into a grave." Unfortunately, she didn't take my advice and the results were not pretty. I've seen her recently on other forums.

Switching forums is not unusual and it's usually because something unpleasant occured. Check out Christy's (imsocrabby) story:

"I'm a 'homegirl' by nature so I usually stick to one place. My addiction started at thegolfchannel.com. That ended quickly when I realized it was really just a place to argue with people. So then I ended up at another site (of which I was banned and then reinstated after quite a long lay-off). I really set roots there....made some great contacts...met some really great people. As with all things 'internet'....sometimes personalities don't meld well and things happen. I really feel like I got the raw end of the deal by a heavy handed moderator...but...oh well. All the while...I was quietly sitting in the background...'trolling' at GolfWRX.com. When I lost my priveleges at the other place...I started participating more there. I recognized some old faces from my old home and decided to make it my new one. It is such a large site but feels so 'homey' at the same time. There is so much good information flying around there....I get stuck for extensive periods of time. Those guys that run the site really have their stuff in order. They're doing a great job."

Yes, it can be pretty rough on forums and if you want to contribute, you better be prepared to get dirty. I am not sure why that is - why do forums turn some gentlemanly golfers into online bullies? As Kevin shared, "It's so easy to sling mud in the forums. People say things online they'd never say to your face."

Yes, I've seen that kind of behavior. People hiding behind their avatars and nicknames. But to be fair, I've seen the other side too - nice people like Aimee, Apryl, Christy and Kevin, who make the forum experience entertaining and informative. I just wish all the members could be like them. If they were, I bet we'd see more women online.

This week I will be interviewing Josh, owner of TheHackersParadise. THP is a fairly new forum that is co-owned by a woman. Come back later this week to find out what THP is doing differently to attract more women to its membership.

Golfgal

17 comments:

Jon Ashworth said...

As a male blog owner, it's a difficult one this. I don't want my blog to be a man only environment and always welcome interaction with box sexes.



In fact I always try to put something in there for the girls. That said, it's difficult as I don't really know what girls want from a golf blog and I don't want to mess up and offend people.


Fashion seems an easy choice but obviously the girls don't just want fashion golf, they want to feel welcome on a site that makes an effort to include them 100 per cent.

What a great article - I think I'll do a blog post on what women want from a golf site and find out...trackback of course..



Thanks! Jon

katherine said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Sarah

http://www.lyricsdigs.com

Golfgal said...

Hey Jon
Thanks for your comment. I visited your site and you have a ton of content there.

Just add a woman writer to your team and I bet you'd see more content "made for women" :)

It's not all about fashion. We care about golf courses, golf equipment and of course, golf players and tours - LPGA, European, Duramed...doesn't matter. Write about what's happening on those tours and you'll get more ladies visting your site. I would be one of them :)

Golfgal

Golfgal said...

Thanks Katherine/Sarah ;)
I appreciate your comments very much.

Hope to see you here again soon!

Cheers
Gayle

Stacy said...

I enjoy being a participant on many golf forums and dedicated golf community sites (you just don't know it's ME!)

I love to talk golf with whomever is on site, but rarely do we chat about fashion. Communication usually ranges from the type of golf clubs we use to playing conditions of the courses.

Jon Ashworth said...

Hey Golfgal,

Thanks for your advice, that's ace. I'll definitely start covering more stuff for the ladies.

We'd love to add a woman writer to our team or at least have a few guest writers? At the risk of sounding cheeky - would you be interested? Perhaps we could exchange a few articles?

Golfgal said...

Hi Jon
I'm honored you would ask, Jon. Let's chat offline - I added my email to my profile, so why not send me a note and we can discuss.

Cheers
Gayle

Golfgal said...

Hey Stacy!

I bet I know you!!!! ;)

Golf for beginners????

haha..thanks for your comments. I'm like you in that I rarely discuss fashion in the forums (unless it's bad and I can make fun of it LOL!).

But fashion does get a lot of other women's attention it seems. So it's "to each her own" I guess. Diversity of topics is important for sure. Women have so many interests.

Cheers
Gayle

Marc said...

Great post (sorry I'm late to the party) and lots to think about.

When Dave and I started Golf is Hard TV we made a conscious decision to be both kid and female friendly - we're still putting things into place but are absolutely positive that there is a huge opportunity to engage women online in a way that doesn't include mysoginy or the typical guy attitude.

As the father of 2 girls who both play golf a little it's important to me that our show appeal to a broader audience than just the old boys club. We're in talks right now with several female golfers and are even looking to work closely with the local high school teams - those girls are terrific golfers!

Golf Gal - would love to chat with you anytime and even invite you to be a guest on Golf is Hard TV - www.golfishardtv.com anytime!

Marc

Golfgal said...

Hi Marc! Would love to chat with you. Let's connect offline. Pop me an email and we'll set up a time.

golfgal [at] on-mark-it.com.

Cheers
Gayle

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Sara Woodward said...

Great article - maybe my experience of a golf forum will shed some light on the stats. I play with the men, swindle, undertstand about co-efficent of restitution when it comes to club selection and follow the legends of golf. Nothing prepared me for the male posters on certain forums who hunt in packs and believe women have no place on the golf course, unless its serving drinks. Stray onto their forum and you will be hunted down. I got fed up trying to join in threads and being defended by the moderator for daring to try and join their little clique and in the end I left them to it. Woody

Golfgal said...

Been there too Sara. ;)
Facebook and Twitter are a lot friendlier places to hang out and chat about "all things golf". So happy I met you there!

Cheers
Gayle

Stephen said...

Gayle, this is an awesome article.

I think the first assumption people make is that to get female golfers you need to throw some 'stereo-typical' female content their way like fashion, or exclusively LPGA content.

Most of the women golfers I know can talk intelligently about ALL aspects of the golf world, usually moreso that I can:) It's really just about making em feel just as welcome as the guys.

I'm actually working on a project cadee.co where we're trying to build a community of golfers that's open to EVERYONE, of all skill levels, background an gender.

Would love to have a chat offline and get your thoughts on it, we're just starting to build some of the community aspects into it.

Cheers,
Stephen

Stephen

Golfgal said...

Thanks Stephen for your comment. I'll definitely check out cadee.co and get back to you offline on that.

Cheers
Gayle

Hailey Andersen said...

I think some women just aren't as competitive about golf as men. The women I know want to play well but aren't as interested in comparing scores and being overly perfectionist about the game. I may be curious about the latest tips and developments, and I may ask about whether something like this golf course GPS makes a good gift for my husband, but I consider golf a hobby, so I'm not a fanatic who needs to talk about it day in and day out. But that's just my two cents. :)

Ryan York said...

I tend to agree with Hailey. It is very difficult to find women golfers that are really serious about the game. And I think you have to be pretty serious about golf to spend time in golf forums.
I wish it would change. I run http://agedefyinggolf.com 60% of the golfers that come to our physical facility are women but but less than 25% of our web visits are from women.
I'm not sure this will change despite the fact that our program actually benefits women more!