Golf in the UK has an opportunity to grow if clubs and courses become more female friendly and offer flexible playing options, according to new research commissioned by Syngenta.
The study found more women would be interested in taking up golf if they could learn with female friends and family, and play on shorter courses offering the option of nine or six-hole rounds.
They would also be encouraged to commit to golf or return to the sport if clubs were "less masculine", "less intimidating" and treated them as "valued customers."
The findings are contained in a new free-to-download report, The Opportunity to Grow Golf: Female Participation which follows specialist qualitative research, including a series of panel sessions around the UK listening to the views of female golfers, lapsed players and non-golfers.
The report, which was launched in London to an audience of golf industry professionals, including the 2015 European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch, is designed to help clubs and courses identify potential solutions to retain current female golfers and attract new players, supporting the long-term sustainability of the golf industry.
A video of the London launch event to hear golf business leaders' reactions has been produced - highlighting some future actions and direction for the golf industry.
The project is being supported by a series of short documentary videos showcasing the work of golf clubs and courses that are successfully recruiting new female golfers.
Syngenta Head Turf & Landscape EAME, Simon Elsworth, said: "The good news coming out of this research is that the UK golf business has a genuine opportunity to grow by proactively encouraging female participation.
"What's important, though, is to listen carefully to what women are saying about golf, what aspects of the sport appeals to them and understand the conditions that need to be created to engage women as customers."
Simon Elsworth continued: "The results of our qualitative research show that an important factor is the ability to learn and play with friends and family at venues where women feel welcome. Some of our case study videos underline this point, especially where there is all-female coaching and courses are able to provide flexible playing conditions."
More than 30 golf business leaders gathered in London for a special presentation of the research report, including representatives of golf's governing bodies, the professional tours and leading multi-course operators.
European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch, who has publicly expressed her desire to see more women playing golf, said: "It's very important that we listen to young people and women and better understand what would encourage them to try golf, which is why I was so interested to read this report.
"As European Solheim Cup Captain, I'm very aware that thousands of sports fans will be watching the event on television and what a great opportunity this is to showcase golf as a game for women. My hope is that it will inspire new players of all ages to give golf a try and see what an enjoyable, social and healthy sport it is."
Mike Round, Director of Development and Membership at the Ladies European Tour, said: "The Opportunity to Grow Golf: Female Participation is an important and valuable contribution to the efforts being made to inform and support the growth of golf - and is welcomed by the Ladies European Tour.
"The reality is that there is a gender imbalance in golf and this is something that needs to be addressed. While progress is being made, much more needs to be done. This survey highlights that while there are challenges to overcome, there are also practical solutions that, if applied, will enable the sport to grow."
Syngenta's golf market research is designed to provide clubs and courses with information that will help them make customer-focused decisions to maximize market opportunities and deliver long-term business benefits.
Previous reports, including Growing Golf in the UK (2013) and The Opportunity to Grow Golf: Youth Participation (2014), are available to download from www.greencast.co.uk