Charlottes deep dives into research from the Women’s Sport Trust that shows record breaking viewing figures at Solheim Cup.

The Women’s Sport Trust report revealed that the Solheim Cup attracted record audiences in 2023. The tournament racked up an impressive 9.5 million viewing hours (compared to a previous best of 6.3 million hours in 2021), making it the highest live average audience for a women’s sport on Pay TV this year.

But perhaps most interesting was that the report also claimed that 33% of Solheim Cup viewers did not watch the Ryder Cup the same month.

I can’t quite get my head around how that could be calculated with much certainty, but on the surface, it reveals a lot about women’s sport – and women’s golf in particular.

First, it proves that women’s golf has a unique audience; liking or watching the men’s game isn’t a prerequisite. And it suggests that fans of women’s golf are interacting with the game differently; they’re taking different things from the sport and valuing something that isn’t in the men’s events.

And for me, finding out what that something is, could be the golden ticket to really growing women’s golf.

There’s nothing in the report that suggests those viewers were predominantly male or female, which would be really useful data. But it would be safe to assume that at least a few of them are women. So, digging a bit deeper on this research really could go a long way in attracting and keep more women in golf.

The first step? Having a better understanding of our audience.

Right message, right time

It’s really promising to see the growth trajectory in viewer figures. And it’s even more encouraging to know that there’s work being done to understand the audience of women’s sport in general.

And whilst there’s still a fair way to go to convert those viewers into players, it’s a really positive step in the right direction.

However, I think as an industry, there’s a lot more to be done to really understand the women’s golf audience; who are they, why are they involved in the game and what makes them tick?

At the moment, we apply this sort of one-size-fits-all approach to trying to attract more women to the game. But before we truly understand our audience – who these women are and what really interests them in the sport – there’s no way we can be delivering the right messages, to the right people, at the right time.

What interests a teenage girl is most likely not going to appeal to a working mum. And what she likes might be different to someone who’s retired.

It’s time we started digging a bit deeper, having a better understanding of women golfers and fans of the women’s game, and leveraging that to take the sport to the next level.

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