Fitness to the rescue! Maybe. Before we get to the growth of “women’s programs” at country clubs, here’s the rub: Women have been second-class citizens for a long time at most country clubs.
Indeed, some clubs still refuse to admit women as members (we’re looking at you, Kasumigaseki, host course for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics). So you’re right to approach any efforts to “appeal to women” with skepticism..
Anyway, the latest trend in the world of private clubs: Pour a bunch of money into top-notch fitness facilities. And it appears to be working.
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Rachel Bachman and Brian Costa indicate Global Golf Advisors (a golf consulting firm, not surprisingly) find that among 145 top-tier private U.S. courses, “program development” for women is the third biggest trend. As such, spa and fitness facilities are up by more than 20 percent at these venues.
All those rich ladies in athleisure wear aren’t just posturing! Speaking from extensive experience in the world of private clubs, it’s not a stereotype to that the percentage of women who are happy with nine holes of bad golf and chatter is generally higher than men, for whom the bad golf needs to be accompanied by beer. I’m not sure what the on-course alcohol sales to men versus women looks like, but I’m confident men are buying booze at a 5-1 clip, at least.
Case and point: Top golfers getting wasted
What does that have to do with anything? Well, clubs need to appeal to women and families in an era of increased time constraints and wives who (rightfully) don’t want their husbands to be gone hacking and boozing all weekend. It’s good to see legitimate efforts are being made to offer an alcohol substitute for women, as it were.
The WSJ item indicates Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., built a $6 million, 24,000 square foot fitness facility with female-centric personal training and fitness. According to the business development manager, 40 percent of the club’s 1,200 members don’t even play golf.
Shocking? Horrible? No. Clubs need to do whatever it takes to survive. Outside of the established roster of tony venues, it’s a massive struggle-face situation. Add a pool. Add personal training. If you can raise capital to appeal to women and families, you’d better do it. If you can’t, and you’re not collecting $100K initiation fees and sporting a years-long waiting list, the vultures are circling.