For years, golf clubs have been trying to answer the question of how to attract more females to the game. And it seems that some clubs have found -- and spent significant amounts of money on -- the solution: boutique fitness clubs.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, consulting firm Global Golf Advisors found that 145 top private U.S. clubs ranked programming for women as the third biggest trend in the industry, just behind product development. As a result, these clubs have expanded their spa and fitness facilities by 22% to combat lag in membership numbers.
For example, Frenchman’s Creek Beach & Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., has a $6 million, 24,000 square foot fitness facility that offers personal training and fitness classes determined by mostly female focus groups. Business development manager Pamela Rudd told the Journal that approximately 40% of the club's 1,200 members don't golf at all.
That doesn't mean that women aren't picking up the game if they haven't played already. Debra Berney, a member at The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, Fla., was originally attracted to the gated community because of the alternative programming the club offered to her husband Jeff's passion for golf. Now, she plays too, thanks to a program designed to attract beginners and have them learn together.
Of course, becoming a member of any private club still has a pricetag. But increasingly, the more a club offers, the more attractive it becomes -- which, at the very least, is a start for a struggling industry.