I recently had the privilege of interviewing legendary wedge designer Roger Cleveland – truly one of the nice guys of our game.

Roger pioneered breakthrough technology in wedges years ago with his brand, Cleveland Golf. Now working with Callaway Golf, the company invited him out to Australia to work with a team of PGA professionals and, at a celebratory dinner, I was asked to extract some pearls of wisdom from this very charming Californian gentleman. The conversation flowed and we started discussing dwindling memberships at golf clubs around the world and what can be done to help grow the game.

We all know the main reason fewer people are playing golf is that we live in a time-poor society. When you play a round of 18 holes, you’re looking at an easy five hours – including the obligatory drink at the 19th.

Multitasking our way through the day, living our lives on smartphones, and only existing at warp-speed, it’s hardly surprising few can afford the luxury of five hours on the course – particularly women. They’re in the unenviable position of juggling work, screaming children and an empty fridge.

Roger was making a strong plea to the golf pros to encourage more nine-hole golf. He thinks it’s the answer. Purists would no doubt disagree, but they’re the ones who do prioritise their time for 18.

For busy people, if you halve the time required, you still get to swing a club in the sunshine and play more golf. We talked about the success of ‘Nine, Wine and Dine’ – the perfect combination of playing in mixed company with a few casual wines and bite to follow. What’s not to love about that?

I love to engage women I meet in conversations around golf: Do they play? Why, or why not? What do they love about it and what turns them away?

The time factor is an obvious one, but what other obstacles are there? I’m a strong supporter of this game for women, as I think the benefits from playing are worth the sacrifice of a freeing up a few hours. For a number of reasons – you open up your circles of people, creating new friendships around a sport you love, away from the pressures of family and work.

You get to turn that damn phone off, escape being on-call and enjoy some much-needed ‘you’ time. There are very few occasions in life that require you to turn off your technology, so I advise you to run with this one. And if you are indeed working, there is no better way of networking than spending a few quality hours with potential clients, walking green fairways that are free of interruptions.

There are quite a few clubs in this industry that need to come up with fresh, new initiatives to maintain the drive for serious golfers, while also create more fun for beginners. The amount of maturing single men and women looking for some company is on the rise, so why aren’t there more social activities organised where they get to hang out, relax and play ‘a-round’, all in the comfort and safety of their local course?

I do some work for YourGolfPro, which introduces women to the game through free ladies clinics. They get to spend a friendly hour with other women, learn a new skill and, in doing so, remove any preconceived ideas that this is a sport dominated by men.

Why should the guys have all the fun? At some point, women have to wise up – this is a great game for life. When you put a few hours into it and build some skills, golf will hold you in good company for many years. When we do have more time for that thing called ‘leisure’ I could think of nothing I’d want to do more than travel the world with my partner, with clubs in hand playing on beautiful golf courses.

So ladies, gents and directors of golf: wise up, rise up and let’s get this game on the road.

Deborah Hutton – Publisher balancebydeborahhutton.com.au