Want your daughter to have a key to the executive board room? Sign her up for golf lessons. This investment could potentially be as valuable as an MBA.
Women golfers rank golf as the most effective networking activity with peers, clients and vendors, according to the Professional Golf Association, based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. And nearly six in 10 women executives who golf agree that playing golf has made them feel more included in the halls of corporate America.
Learning golf may help your daughter gain access to top executives, hear the inside corporate gossip, find a mentor and even be promoted, said Mary Jacobs, golf pro at the Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles and golf coach at Marlborough School, a private Los Angeles girls' school. She thinks girls should learn while they are young — because frankly, it is easier to pick up the game that way.
“A lot of my clients are between 25 and 40 – every single one of them says, 'I wish I had learned to play as a kid,'" said Jacobs. “They tell me that agents at Creative Artists Agency play with clients, junior agents get to play with senior agents. At law firms, junior associates get to play with partners."
There's a reason golf strengthens professional ties.
“Golf builds character. There are rules and etiquette, punctuality…" Jacobs said. Plus, it's an intimate game that requires spending a long time with two or three others. “Golf is like being able to have tea with someone for six hours. It's a great way to learn how to connect."
Tanya Stukes makes a lot of business connections on the green.
“Because I can play golf, I'm able to transition from boardroom strategy sessions with senior managers to the green, where everyone lets their hair down a bit and long-lasting relationships are formed," said Stukes, operations support manager at Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., a Los Angeles construction firm. "If I didn't play, I'd be missing out!"
Women currently account for only 20 percent of U.S. golfers. But the largest growing segment of the game is girls under the age of 18, who now account for 33 percent of players, said Chief Teaching Officer and LPGA Foundation President Nancy Henderson, who is committed to LPGA-USGA's Girls Golf program. Over the past five years, Girls Golf has increased the number of girls in the game from 5,000 in 2010 to more than 70,000 participating in Girls Golf programs annually in 2017.
Not only can golf empower girls, it can help them when it comes to college admissions. Women golfers are among the most sought-after by recruiters, whether you're seeking scholarships or would like to enhance your child's chances of admission to an elite school, according to Chris Noble, the golf specialist at the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA).
“Coaches at NAIA and D3 schools are desperate for girl golfers," he said.
Tips for Getting Girls Involved In Golf
If your child is interested, here's how to get started:
- Visit LPGA-USGA's Girls Golf to find local programs for ages 7-17. Girls Golf programs offer nurturing environments for juniors to learn the game with other girls and offer affordable access to learning and playing the game.
- If there isn't a Girls Golf program in your area but you live near a golf club, set up a lesson with a pro. An hour will typically run between $50 and $100 per hour, depending on your location. It's more fun if your daughter has a friend in tow and most pros will allow you to split the cost of the lesson. Membership is usually not required.
- Rent clubs from the pro shop and wear sneakers until you're ready to invest in gear, which for a junior will run you about $200 for starter clubs, attire and shoes.
- Many public courses offer golf lessons and day camps at a fraction of the cost but may require more lead time to book. Call the pro shop to inquire.
- There are sleep-away camps that offer golf as an activity. If your child is a beginner, consider signing up for a few lessons first to get a head start.
Many people believe that golf is much more than a summer activity or an enhancement for college applications: It is the only true lifelong sport.
“If we can introduce golf at a young age it's beneficial for many reasons, whether a healthy lifestyle or for business," Henderson said.
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