Women revitalize golf industry in Japan


The image of golf in Japan is that it is a sport for old men who play it for entertaining business partners. Golf, however, is now targeting women who are increasingly taking up the sport, according to weekly magazine Shukan Shincho (Dec 24).

“Some middle-aged women, who never played golf before, have recently started buying golf wear,” a sales clerk of a major department store tells the magazine. “It's not just for playing golf. Apparently, they want to dress the part to be in the gallery at professional golf tournaments to see teen golfer Ryo Ishikawa.”

According to Shukan Shincho, many women have become interested in the sport because of the emergence of young golfers such as Ishikawa, Momoko Ueda and Miho Koseki, who receive a lot of TV coverage.

The golf-related industry, such as clubs, clothing and other accessories, is worth 260 billion yen a year, analysts tell Shukan Shincho. The industry has been growing by 5% every year since 2004.

“The main target of the golf industry has been those who play golf for business, which has been closely linked to the economic situation. However, more than 60% of the 8.5 million golf population are now over 60, which is not directly influenced by the recession,” Shukan Shincho quotes a golf journalist.

A spokesperson for Niki Golf Corp, which posts annual sales of 25 billion yen, says, “We've seen sales increase by almost 10%. Women, especially in their 30s and 60s, are our main customers. While sales of golf clubs are decreasing, sales of golf wear and related goods are up."

Golf equipment makers are introducing new golf items, targeting women, Shukan Shinco says. Bridgestone Corp, for example, recently released golf balls featuring pictures of Sanrio Corp's “Hello Kitty.” The women's golf magazine Regina, which was launched in 2006, sells about 60,000 copies a year.

An editor of monthly magazine Golf Equipment World analyzes the current situation: “The competition in the golf market is now very tough because apparel companies, such as Onward -- which never bothered with golf wear -- sees big potential."

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Oyaji Gal

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Golf.. very boring sport, apparently good for you though.. xD

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As expected..., the women who don't marry, marry later, or ignore their marriages are spending their disposable income on whims and trends, just so they can be in the "jet set" and drool over BOY stars at closer and closer distances. When will they learn that perishables like innocence, beauty, and youth are necessary for being eligible bachelorettes...? Such a shame. But who are men to tell them the obvious.

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Its a shame that the only comments thus far are from people not "in the know" when it comes to golf here.

I play at least 2x a week and am a solid 12 handicapper right now. I have seen a tremendous increase in female golfers on the course, not just in the galleries. It has nothing at all to do with idol worship or "jet set" garbage, rather they have found that it is a sport that is not limited by gender or even economic status as it once was.

My wife is an avid golfer and plays with me on most occasions. We have a few friends who are JLPGA pros, and trust me, they are not disadvantaged due to the fact that they are women.

If people say it is boring, most likely it is because they haven't actually tried it enough to see improvement. For those who think it is a personality defect or a symptom of a neglected marriage, you need to get out more, and not just on the high horse you are perched.

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amen to that frank.Ever played Minohara in Gunma?Spectacular!

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Minohara is on my "to-do" list. So far, I have played Yomiuri, Tokyo Kokusai, Sagamihara CC (both courses), Tama, Zama, and I am a member at Atsugi, so I play there all the time.

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female golfers, like all other female Japanese athletes, are treated like aidoru. a few years ago, it was Sakura Yokomine & Ai Miyazato. the next time it was Momoko Ueda. now it's Miho Koga & the shokin-jo. the exceptions to this rule are, of course, those women the media deem to be not cute enough or busaiku.

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