Jennifer Corcoran, a mixed-income real estate developer by day, golf influencer and thought-leader by night (and weekends) refers to her passion project, Grueter Golf, as a “runaway train with a decent set of rails.” If that’s the case, the train’s picked up a lot of happy passengers along the way.
Corcoran and college friends Kirsten Grueter, Erin Donnelly and Haley Hillesland founded Grueter Golf in 2016 with the mission of “getting more girls to play golf.” The fearless foursome hatched the idea while playing their first round together on a course in Cape Cod. Fast-forward through dozens of events, hundreds of Instagram posts and several podcasts and the results are in: mission accomplished.
“Through our platform we’re able to reach thousands of people who had never even been to a golf course before,” Corcoran says. “Almost everyone who comes to one of our events keeps playing the game and they reach out to us about playing more and getting more involved.”
Grueter Golf events are fun, affordable, accessible and often built around a creative theme. While Corcoran and crew sell memberships, it’s not required for playing in most events. Inclusion, after all, is central to Grueter Golf’s raison d’etre. As of this writing, outings are offered in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore with new markets planned for 2021 and beyond.
“Our original slogan was ‘getting girls on the greens’ but we are four white women so it wasn’t all that hard for us to get into golf and fit in,” Corcoran says. “We’ve expanded our tent to others who might have more challenges and barriers to getting into the game.”
But make no mistake, the female demo remains the group’s core focus. Corcoran believes the acceptance of women in the game, and their overall participation, have made great strides over the past five years. When asked to grade the golf industry on its “women friendliness,” she says the game has improved a few letter grades since the early 2000s.
“Most of the golf world gets a ‘B+’ for effort and across the board I’d give it a solid ‘B,’” she says. “The only thing that will make it an ‘A’ for me is when there are equal numbers of men and women playing at private and public courses, and when it’s the norm for big brands to release signature products for major LPGA events.”
(Let's just go ahead and add the memberships and tee time limitations for women at some private clubs. Pretty archaic...)
After shelving most of their events last year due to the pandemic, Grueter Golf has a full slate of tournaments and outings scheduled for this year including “Margaritas and Mulligans” June 26 at the Dyker Beach Golf Course in Brooklyn and the “Candy Corn Classic” at Clearview Park Golf Course in Queens on Oct. 16. Corcoran says they’re also working on co-branded experiences with No Laying Up and Boston Golf and Social.
“The event with No Laying Up is called Mixed Troubles and it will be a co-ed event at Watchung Valley Golf Course [in Watchung, N.J.] in September,” she says. “In August we’re hosting the Hooper #GolfProm at the Hooper Golf Course in [Walpole] New Hampshire. It’s sort of like the Sweetens Cove [Golf Club] of the North.”
Grueter Golf’s unapologetically fun social events tend to take centre stage. If you follow @gruetergolf on Instagram, it’s hard not to want to join the party. But membership in its Ladies Club is an undersold part of the business, with members receiving discounts on events, “members only” invitations to social gatherings and deals on brands that are certified #GGFriendly.
“Once our members get hooked on golf we want to give them the tools and access to instruction to get better,” Corcoran says. “We always used to wonder why we weren’t getting better. Well, it was because we weren’t taking lessons.”
Grueter Golf recently rolled out its “GG Pass” to give members access to participating courses throughout the country at discounted rates. Members also receive 20% off Arccos Golf, as well as other discounts across the industry ranging from simulator time, clothing brands, golf equipment, and more!
“Arccos gives you access to stats and analytics that only really good golfers normally have access to,” Corcoran says. “It can help you see what you are actually doing on the golf course. I thought I was driving it 200 yards but I’m averaging more like 166 yards. Before Arccos, someone of my ilk would never know that, and you can’t get better if you don’t know what you’re doing. This is why it was so exciting to offer it to our members who are looking to get better at golf.”
When it comes to growing the game, Corcoran and the other Grueter Golf founders appear to know exactly what they’re doing, runaway train or no runaway train. They have even recently rolled out a podcast called, ‘Low Expectations’ where they have already brought on LPGA powerhouses like Michelle Wie, Danielle Kang, and Marina Alex, as well as female course designer Christine Fraser, and so many more! If you don’t laugh along with them… there is a chance you’re a dud. So “ALL ABOARD” on the Grueter Golf train to continue growing the game.