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Women are picky, and we know what we want in a golf resort

By Cynthia Boal Janssens, Contributor

JOHANNESBURG, Mich. - In a recent issue of Golf for Women magazine, there was a statistic that caught my eye: When a couple plans a golf vacation, 70 percent of the time it is the woman who decides on the destination and the resort.

No surprise to us gals, right? Nor to many of you guys either.

It is obvious to me that golf resorts all over this nation are catching on to this fact and trying to make themselves a whole lot more woman-friendly. For many, the most obvious way to do this is to add a spa. Now, I like a great facial as much as the next lady, but it's gonna cost me, right?

So, what else do women want?

First, women want ambience. They want the place to be special. That means the rooms have to be really nice. There should be upscale toiletries, cushy bedding and turn-down service. A patio or balcony would be divine. There should be a nice mix of magazines on the table. And, OK, throw in at least a 27-inch TV for the hubby.

Women want good food. And, no, we don't really like sports bars. So many golf resorts still rely on that old standard either in their main dining room or in the golf club house grill. Dining out is a critical part of a vacation for couples and both men and women appreciate exceptional dishes, good wine and elegant decor. We ladies like candles on the table.

Women want good golf. We actually care if the golf courses play well for women. Are the forward tees an afterthought or are they as carefully planned as the mid- and back tees? Many courses offer spectacular elevated tees for the menfolk and then plop the forward and senior tees at the bottom of that hill with a plain, flat aspect. Or, an abundance of holes play so long that a decent woman player can't reach them in three shots.

My pet peeve is courses on which the par-3s play 160 yards-plus from the front tees. Those who study statistics on women players realize that most of us cannot drive that far. Thus, we have almost no chance of carding a birdie, or even making par. That kind of takes the fun out of it and can spoil a good score.

Women want restrooms every 4-5 holes. No, we don't want to piddle in the bushes, like you guys do. We want to go when we need to go. And we expect those restrooms to be nice. I notice that newer courses are really catching on to this and painting the restrooms in nice colors, some even paneling them in wood. They hang pictures, add some fake florals, and even have the sense to put out a box of tissue. I mean, is this so hard to do?

Why do so many courses still have smelly restrooms with wet floors and smudged walls? Why do almost all of the women's restrooms on golf courses have only one toilet, forcing us into the even-more-stinky men's room? Got to keep up the pace of play, right?

Golf course planners should catch on the fact that women play in groups or in couples and they need at least two stalls in the ladies rest rooms. Better yet, I like the system used in other countries in which the single restrooms are all unisex. (We women have to use the men's rooms so often they might as well be.)

Finally, women want value. They are going to look very carefully at the pricing and they will compare deals. They will break down the golf package into all of its components and figure out if it is a really is a good buy. Women are not impressed with $150 greens fees. In most cases, they believe these to be a ripoff, and you had better be really, really spectacular to satisfy a woman at those rates.

Let's face it, women are trained not to pay full price. Most guys will march into almost any store, or golf pro shop, and pay the going rate without a further thought. Women will ask: "Is that your best deal?" or "Where is the sale rack?" Keep your prices reasonable and offer specials, when possible. When course play is light, you might even offer free replays. Now, obviously we will not know all of these details in advance, but I can tell you they will certainly affect whether or not we will return to your golf resort.

You should also know that when you win a woman's loyalty she will remain a true friend to you. She will return to your resort again and again and tell her friends about it. She will reward the trouble you have taken to make your resort woman-friendly. And her hubby will be happy, too.

Next month: How many pairs of golf shoes is enough?

Cynthia Boal Janssens is a former newspaper writer and editor turned freelance writer. She is the former travel editor and Sunday magazine editor of The Detroit News. In addition, she has worked for newspapers in California, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Ohio University.

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