My first exposure to golf was actually five years ago. My dad signed us up for lessons as a way to spend time together. I took lessons for a few months and picked up the basic skills quickly. During that time, I enjoyed the sport, but I really felt like I stuck out because the normal golf crowd doesn’t really look like me at all. It wasn’t a sport that my peers had much interest in, so if I was going to be spending time at the golf course, it would either be alone or with my dad and his friends. At the time, golf felt like something to add to my toolbelt along with other weird skills like playing the viola and training in Indian classical dance. Flash forward five years later, I’m graduating from business school and golf has turned into a relevant networking opportunity.
On April 18th, I had the privilege of attending a golf clinic organized by the Graduate Women’s Business Association (GWBA) along with several of my classmates pictured above. Four successful businesswomen who also happen to be successful golfers came to talk to us about why they got into golf and why they think it’s a valuable sport, skill and hobby for all of us. They talked about golf as a game of honor that teaches and fosters class, poise and self-confidence. Who couldn’t use more class, poise, and self-confidence?
Each one of them came into golf from a different background and each one of them continues to golf because it’s useful, but more importantly enjoyable. Susan Rheney talked about how golf helped her fit in better at work because she could leave work at the same time as her colleagues to get to the golf course. Candy Carson took up golf to get more exposure to senior management on the course, but primarily she got more interested in the sport as a way to get to know her dad who spent a lot of time on the course. Jennifer Dickey traded golf lessons for Japanese lessons as a way to exchange skills with clients and coworkers. Deb Agran got into golf after she saw how playing tennis in college helped her in the corporate world. She described the sport of golf as an equalizer because anyone can become good at it and anyone can have a bad day.
If you’re thinking about taking up golf either as a way to network or a way to stay active, do it! Here are a few golf tips from golfers much wiser than me:
1. Play scrambles – Recreationally, golf can be played in several different formats. A scramble is a good format for friendly play where beginners can be valuable and don’t necessarily slow down the game. A scramble starts with the entire group hitting the first shot from the same starting position. The shot with the best position is where the entire group hits the second shot. The second shot with the best position is where the entire group hits their third shot and so on. Golf is a sport where even the most inexperienced player can have a good shot every now and then, and even the most experienced player can have a rough shot every now and then. Scrambles are fun because you never know – you might be a new golfer, but chances are high that at some point in a 72-par course, your shot will be the best shot played.
2. Maintain the pace of play – Often times golf outings are meant to be networking events where chatting is key. Golfers tend to be inclusive about bringing beginners into the golf world, but when to chat and when not to chat is critical to making sure you’re not getting in the way. First and foremost, it is important to leave personal space when it is someone’s turn to hit their shot. Leaving a reasonable distance between the golfer at the tee and your conversation with someone else is a good idea. Also, it is important to keep the pace of the game by monitoring the group in front of you and behind you. The idea is not to move so quickly that you’re rushing a group ahead of you and to not move so slowly that you’re holding up someone else’s game. If you do the latter, you may earn some sass from the team behind you that looks a little something like this:
1. Play 9 holes instead of 18 – Playing a shorter game is beneficial for two main reasons. First, networking is intimidating, and golf can be intimidating for a beginner too. Limiting the number of holes played can make the new situation more comfortable. Second, everyone is busy, and time is valuable. Instead of having to commit four hours to play 18 holes, committing two hours is more manageable. For example, golfing for two hours after work is often more realistic in terms of energy and other obligations than golfing for four hours after work. Besides, to get good at anything a lot of practice is required and spreading out that practice in two-hour blocks is more beneficial than playing less frequently for four hours at a time.
2. Spend 60% of your practice working on your short game – Driving ranges are a lot of fun. Specifically, hitting a golf ball with a driver as hard as you can is downright therapeutic. However, that shot makes up only one shot of every hole and it’s often one of the hardest shots to reliably control. The experts recommend spending a majority of time working on the short game instead. The best putters tend to be highly valued members of a scramble team. Check us out practicing our chipping:
Whether you’re an experienced golfer or a novice to the game, golf is a great networking opportunity and a skill you can learn at any age. A big thank you to the GWBA, the UGA Golf Course, and our guest speakers for inspiring us all to hit the links!