Golf anyone? Professionals teach businesswomen how to succeed on the green

| April 9, 2012 | Comments (1)

When you think of corporate golf players, you’re more likely to imagine a grey-haired man in plaid shorts rather than a middle-aged woman in a skirt.

It’s not surprising, given that golf has long been associated with business, and for decades, men have held the top business positions. As a result, many golf clubs have an old boys’ club culture, with some even denying membership to women (I’m looking at you, Augusta National Golf Club!)

With more women climbing the corporate ladder and reaching executive-level positions, male exclusivity at such clubs appears ridiculously outdated. Bravo to all those arguing in favour of abolishing this archaic men-only policy (including President Barack Obama). Those waiting with bated breath for IBM’s CEO Virginia Rometty to take a stand on Augusta National’s policy, since the tech giant sponsors the Masters Tournament, will unfortunately need to wait until next year to see if any progress gets made.

For business leaders, having a golf club membership is not just about being able to play a game — it’s about having the opportunity to network, make deals and strengthen careers.  Critics argue that women miss valuable business opportunities by not being allowed on the green.

That’s why women’s groups in the U.S. have started clinics to teach businesswomen how to golf. In Toronto, a new business called Corporate Caddy Consulting, which launched two months ago, has started doing the same.

Lindsay Knowlton, co-founder of Corporate Caddy Consulting and a former golf player for Canada’s national team, attributes much of her success in the business world to her golfing abilities. “Playing golf was my absolute biggest asset and one of my biggest weapons when it came to business,” says Knowlton, who is a strategic account manager at Puma Canada. “It’s helped me take my business to the next level. It helped me increase my sales and relationship base. I even met my second boss on a putting green.”

Corporate Caddy Consulting aims to train businesswomen to become confident, capable golfers who can network effectively on the golf course. Based on Knowlton’s observations and industry research, most corporate businesswomen decline invitations to golf because they are concerned about their golfing ability.

This, says Knowlton, leads to fewer networking opportunities, less revenue and less profits for companies that employ women. According to a business leader survey by COMPAS — a Canadian polling company — published in 2004, each dollar spent on golf earns a business an average of $1559 in revenue.

By not playing golf, businesswomen are also missing out on the opportunity to build trust and learn about a person’s character, Knowlton says. “You will learn more about a person during one round of golf than you would during a year’s worth of meetings in the boardroom,” Knowlton says.  “When you play golf with someone you have four hours of time with them. There’s no way you can ever have a four-hour meeting with someone in a boardroom.”

This is why golf is also the best medium to develop and solidify relationships, she says. “Sales are all related to relationships. If you’re building strong relationships, your sales are going to increase.”

Playing golf at the corporate level is also an opportunity for women to address gender equality in the workplace by showing they are competitive at all areas of their job, including golf, says Knowlton. She believes being successful on the golf course leads to more career success — and faster.

Corporate Caddy Consulting has hired professional golf players and experienced business/networking professionals to teach women golf and networking either at their offices or at the Toronto Ladies Golf Club. Women can choose from a Lunch and Learn session at their office or a half-day interactive session at either their office or at a golf course.

While it may take time for the old boys’ culture prevalent at golf clubs to completely disappear, with more women in executive positions picking up a golf club, it seems inevitable that they will soon be seen as a competitive force both in the boardroom and on the golf course.


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Category: Career Girl, Women in the World

About Sanam Islam: View author profile.

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  1. Melissa says:

    Great course by Corporate Caddy Consulting! Definitely worth checking them out on LinkedIn!!!