As Women’s Golf Day approaches on Sept. 1, it’s important to step back and take inventory of how great an impact female golfers have had on the game. Not just at the professional level, but at golf courses and resorts throughout the U.S. and around the world.
With more than 24 million golfers in the U.S., women make up the game’s fastest growing segment of new players. They also represent 25 percent of the on-course market, and more than 40 percent of the off-course market (think Topgolf and Drive Shack). From the junior golf levels all the way up to retirement age and beyond, female participation is soaring.
And Pinehurst has always been a welcome home to women in golf. Women have competed at Pinehurst since 1901, and the first Women’s North & South Amateur was played in 1903, and has been contested every year since, making it the longest consecutively running national women’s amateur championship in the United States. Many of the game’s greatest players have won the North & South, and just last week in the Women’s British Open, nine former North & South champions were in the field. Austin Ernst, who won the 2012 title, won last week on the LPGA Tour.
According to Pinehurst Resort Director of Retail Laura Robinson, providing women with an accommodating and amazing experience at any golf facility starts in the golf shop.
“They need to feel not just welcome, but embraced by golf retail,” she says. “That means having a golf shop that’s well appointed with women’s apparel and equipment and having knowledgeable employees who can assist with questions.”
On any given day, the Pinehurst Resort golf shop is abuzz with men and women of all ages shopping their favorite brands – and maybe even exploring some new ones. Robinson and her team have organized the retail space into easy-to-navigate sections for both genders.
“The men can go one way, the women can go the other way and they can eventually meet back in the middle on the way to the check-out counter,” Robinson says with a laugh. “While we have social distancing and a designated entrance and exit, we want them to enjoy what many golfers consider a bucket list experience.”
With 10 golf courses, including the award-winning Cradle short course, the resort offers plenty of women- and couples-friendly playing options. Home to competitive women’s golf since 1903, Pinehurst Resort Director of Golf Ben Bridgers says it’s imperative that women have teeing options designed for their swing speed and ball trajectory.
“We are fortunate to have courses like No. 1 and No. 3 that are 6,000 yards or less and essentially feature four sets of tees for women,” Bridgers says. “Our golf course architects, from Donald Ross to Gil Hanse, all recognized the importance of the ground game, and forced carries on tee shots and into greens on approaches are kept to a minimum from the forward tees.”
Play The Cradle, our nine-hole short course, which Golf Channel named best in golf design in 2017.
And women, whether traveling in a group or with their significant other, don’t even have to leave the clubhouse area to have an unforgettable golf encounter. The aforementioned Cradle is a Hanse-designed collection of nine par-3 holes ranging from just 56 to 113 yards. For $50, golfers can play as many times as they’d like that day, and kids 17 and under play free with a paying adult.
Located right in front of the clubhouse by the Putter Boy statue is the resort’s 18-hole putting course, Thistle Dhu. Thistle Dhu is free for guests, available for golfers of all ages, and putters are even available for rent over at The Cradle.
“Pairing The Cradle with Thistle Dhu makes for a unique and fun introduction to golf at Pinehurst Resort,” Bridgers says. “Women and couples often play that combination when they arrive, and then move up to playing No. 1, No. 3 or No. 5. More experienced players add on our championship caliber courses, like No. 2, No. 4 and No. 8.”
The Bed and Breakfast Package is a popular choice to tie it all together. One of the resort’s longest-running offers, it includes daily golf, accommodations in one of Pinehurst’s three hotels and breakfast. It can be booked for any number of nights.