It’s at this time of year with the golfing season about to commence that important decisions have to be made. Membership renewal is obviously a key one. Perhaps a full review of the weaponary within the golf bag - do you really need that club from the new range of drivers and irons which will ‘guarantee’ to add 10% more distance to your shots (and your overdraft)? And of course, for club golfers, which knock-out competitions to enter.
There’s one knock-out that always raises the question in the Butler household - ‘shall we give it another go?’ – and that is of course the Mixed Foursomes. Foursome golf is probably the most testing and challenging format. It’s the format that normally gives the European team the edge in the early matches of the Ryder Cup as it would appear that the Americans have never really got to grips with it. Foursome golf used to be the staple format of traditional golf clubs and play in golf's formative years but now fewer clubs retain this style of play as an important part of their competition schedule. Yet it’s a faster game and in social golf can be very good ‘fun’.
Mixed Foursomes is I believe THE most challenging format. Not only does it mean that both players are often playing from unfamiliar positions on the course or distances to the green, but most often the playing partner is also your spouse - and that brings an entirely different dimension to the game. Both Mrs B and myself are fairly competitive individuals but Mixed Foursomes has brought us very mixed results. No doubt we will enter for another year and give it a go. No doubt at some point Mrs B will ask ‘what did I do wrong there’ and I will sympathetically reply ‘the same as last year but’s let not worry about it’. And no doubt she will also exclaim ‘you don’t normally do that’ after I’ve topped an important drive into the water at the ninth. Yes those little moments in Mixed Foursomes bring so many emotionally rich interchanges into a relationship – ‘did you really have to put me in the bunker – again?’.
Sunday March 8th is International Women’s Day. Apparently, ‘International Women's Day honours the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women's success, and reminds of inequities still to be redressed. The word 'Suffragette' is derived from the word "suffrage" meaning the right to vote.’
There’ve been quite a few examples of resolution of ‘inequities’ in golf in the last few months. The R&A recently allowed in women members for the first time in their history. The R&A have also entered into exploratory discussions to merge with the Ladies Golf Union. The Scottish Golf Union and the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association have backed the proposal to amalgamate following in the footsteps of the respective unions in England merging to form England Golf. And just this week Royal St Georges, Open Championship venue and one of the last bastions of the male only golf club has lifted the ban on female members for the first time in it’s 128 year history.
The merging of administrative bodies makes a lot of sense simply from a perspective of operational effectiveness and the streamlining of costs/overheads to support them. And whilst the decisions of individual clubs to allow mixed membership is undoubtedly the moral thing to do, the cynics would also suggest that the PR machines of major corporate organisations would not allow ongoing sponsorship for events such as The Open, if they continue to be held at male only clubs. At all levels it’s the right thing to do.
A survey published this week notes that participation in golf has finally stabilised in the UK at about 3.3 million golfers after a decade in decline. Yet the average age of golfers has reportedly increased from 41 to 45 and for those playing once a week from 48 to over 60. The number of women golfers is estimated to be not more than 15% of that number. A survey published by Women and Golf magazine found that 48% of women golfers took up the game because a husband or partner played it. Golf is being recognised by women within the board rooms of top UK organisations as a critical tool in building and retaining client relationships.
So when you put all these things together perhaps the answer to maintain a great future for golf is ... Mixed Foursomes. More men introducing their better halves to the game ... means more couples playing golf together ... which would probably mean more children being born into a golfing family ... where they would naturally be encouraged to take it up too. Sorted. I can visualise more than a few men I know chewing on their pint glass at the very suggestion - but gentlemen, that’s progress for you.
At ETIQUS I always wanted to introduce a range of timepieces for the Lady golfer and I’m pleased that we’ve done so. We will be actively working with Women and Golf magazine to promote the ETIQUS brand and it’s pleasing to see that we’ve already got Lady Professional golfers joining the growing ranks of our Affiliate scheme. But 2015 will be an interesting year to see the scale of demand from the female community for a quality fashionable timepiece themed around golf.
ETIQUS is already getting a rapidly growing number of votes from male golfers, amateur and professional alike, but how many Ladies vote to join this particular club is one I will wait to see with interest.
Enjoy the lighter nights and the first rounds of ‘after work’ golf.