Ladies… we need to talk about golf!

With almost 24 million people taking to the greens each year, golf has become one of the most popular sports in the United States. U.S. Presidents, corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders can all agree, hitting the links is a great way to do business.

Most of your time on the course is spent walking and talking. That’s where relationships form and deals get made. A recent article in Golf Operator Magazine highlighted that golf is the ultimate business tool, so it’s no surprise that 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs play the game.

Out of the 24 million people that play golf, only 6 million are women, which means women aren’t playing golf nearly as much as their male counterparts, and it’s time we make our presence known.

What’s keeping women off the greens?

A common misconception is that the word GOLF is an acronym for Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden. This is definitely not true.

There are two major issues at play.

The first is a mix of tradition and expectation. Golf has been primarily a male dominated sport. It is assumed that men play golf, and well.

The second is fear and intimidation. The fear of being embarrassed or feeling like you don’t belong inhibits women from taking to the course with their male coworkers or clients.

Leslie Andrews, co-author of the book “Even Par: How Golf Helps Women Gain the Upper Hand in Business,” explains that those assumptions just aren’t true. “Most women assume that the men who play in corporate outings are good golfers. Not so!” says Andrews. “Many women assume that the men who play golf do not want to play with women. With a few exceptions, not so!”

Is golf really that important for your career?

Simple answer is yes.

According to a survey conducted by Catalyst, a respected research firm committed to expanding opportunities for women in business, 73 percent of businesswomen surveyed would agree that playing golf has helped them develop relationships and network for business, while 50 percent of women surveyed in executive level positions agree that being able to talk about golf enables them to be more successful.

Golf gives you the opportunity to have beneficial facetime with CEO’s, executives or even valued customers. What’s more, you spend hours on the course with very few interruptions creating quality one-on-one time with potential decision makers.

And of course, there’s the 19th hole, which is yet another great way to bond with business partners and talk about your own ideas and ambitions.

So, what can you do?

Well if you don’t currently play golf, or want to hone your skills, sign up for the, WICT Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Rocky Mountain Golf Institute (RMGI), an initiative we’ve designed to take some of the mystery and intimidation out of the game.

Partnering with the Inverness Golf Club, we’ve created an interactive learning program to develop your knowledge of golf, the swing, the game, and most important of all, how to use golf to network with other leaders and executives. Learn more about RMGI and register here!

Don’t wait to be asked to play, put the offer out there first. You can promote golf in the office, perhaps get something on the calendar after work, and talk to HR about a more company-led initiative, too.

And when you hear someone talk about an upcoming golf meeting, don’t be afraid to ask to join. As Arianna Huffington has said, “Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.”

Now, get out there and take a swing at success!

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