Can Golf really secure you a seat at the table?

Make no mistake about it, golf and business go hand in hand, and there are tons of reasons it is deemed so. Fact is, very few if any activities can replicate the power of golf to boost one’s career regardless of gender and many successful business people attest to this fact. What’s more; besides providing unmatched networking time with clients, prospects, and colleagues including the much-coveted access to senior management, the sport is not too physically demanding at least when compared with many other recreational games. If you’re not actively involved in recreational golf, you are missing out on a whole lot, and your company might be consistently losing out on crucial business opportunities when only a few female employees play golf.

Sometimes, it’s the women…

Unfortunately, the majority of women avoid the game, thereby missing out on the opportunity to build strong relationships that can help advance their careers. What these women fail to realize is that golfing is a terrific opportunity to build relationships with clients, prospective clients, and people within the company. Usually, the chances are that if you can hold even the most basic conversations about golf, almost all of a sudden you have a reason to talk to the CEO or your boss two or three levels above you on the course.

Now, this isn't just our point of view; it is a fact backed by statistics. A Mass Mutual survey of 1000 women who played golf revealed that seventy-three percent agreed that playing golf helped them develop relationships and network for business.

On the other hand, one study from Catalyst, a research firm, discovered that 46% of women surveyed noted exclusion from informal networks as the biggest impediment to attaining their career goals and golf expectedly, was mentioned as one of those informal networks.

Thinking they have to be “exceptional” to play at all

A lot of women’s refusal to play golf can often be linked to their fear of embarrassment. Many think they have to be really good to play golf with other people. Interestingly, most of the men who devote some afternoons to playing with colleagues and clients aren’t even that great. While they may know how to hit the ball right and the basic rules of the game, they are far from being pros. True, excelling at golf can be tough, but these men understand that they do not need to “excel” at it; they only need to get good enough to get by.

The need to be “exceptional” may not be unconnected with the feeling many women generally share; they have to be “better than” instead of being good enough before taking a risk rather than exposing themselves. Put simply, for many women, “it’s all or nothing.” And somehow, this leaves many hanging around, feeling they have no business at the table, let alone be at the head of the table.

While this attitude can be further linked to society and the way it sometimes judges women in leadership harsher than men, (research carried out by Northwestern University’s Alice Eagly shows this), such fears are however unfounded on the golf course at least.

Act like men? No!

We’re not even suggesting that you act like men or infiltrate the boys’ club. Instead, the “boys’” club needs to change. Business will always be conducted outside the office, and informal relationships will never go away, but women have to be where these relationships are. More women need to start seeing golf as the business tool it is because, to succeed in business; you need to have all the tools you can find and max them.

Besides the business benefits, golf is a fun game you can play for the rest of your life. Golf is one of the few sports where people of different abilities can play and have fun. In its own right, it is playing field leveller, but you first have to get on the course.

What of the others who succeed without golf?

Of course, many men and women are succeeding in business without ever setting foot on a golf course. Sadly, however, the number of women from millennials to seasoned executives saying yes to the game of golf is far too small, too small for the business opportunities that are opened through golf, too small for the tons of opportunities for career advancements lurking in every golf course. Just too small!

What can help?

Having a larger population of businesswomen in golf will help over time. It remains highly essential to provide women with greater access to the game and more confidence to leave the office for a few hours with colleagues and clients to gain a unique business advantage only golfers enjoy.

Another thing that can also help is having women look up to successful business and career role models who have never underestimated the importance of golf for opportunity creation and career advancement. There are many; if you need to draw motivation from successful women in leadership/businesswomen who play golf, don’t look too far. Our CEO, Seipati Mokhuoa is one of such women, and her passion for golf has never been hidden. A glance at her stunning and comprehensive credential will leave you amazed at all this dynamic young lady has achieved within a short time. One of her favourite golf quotes by Bobby Jones is: “Golf is the closest game to the game called life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies."

Take those shots. It cannot be emphasized enough; in business, community, personal and golf relationships are all important to create partnerships, and as more and more African women advance in their professional careers, golf will be a necessary skill to help level the playing field and allow them reap the benefits beyond standard employee contributions.


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