Earlier this week Yvonne DiVita's Lip-Sticking Blog ran an article about five different ways companies can reach their female customer. 5 Neat Ways to Influence Jane to Shop at Your Website
One of the strategies is through sports. Golf is more than a game. It's a business strategy. A great one. I don't play golf. I think about it a lot.
Golf is a great business tool. Where else can you have five to eight uninterrupted hours with a client/vendor/prospect? As any male golfer will tell you, if you want to really get to know someone well, play a round of golf.
But like so many other things in business, just because golf is a wonderful business asset for men, doesn’t necessarily mean women can use this asset quite the same way.
Women executives obviously want to get to know their client/vendor/prospects as well as men do. Golf sure beats a business lunch where you are forced to sit in a noisy restaurant and time your conversation between stuffing food in your mouth, all the while praying the spinach salad with the poppy seed dressing isn’t stuck in your front tooth.
That is one explanation why membership in the Executive Women’s Golf Association ( EWGA) has jumped 38% since 2000. This impressive increase occurred while golf was experiencing relatively “flat” growth.
A few years ago, the New York Times looked at a business’s stock performance over a three-year period and compared it to the CEO’s golf handicap.
Turns out that better than average golfing executives also delivered better than average returns on investment to shareholders .The study hypothesized that better golfers were more successful in business for several reasons: (1) Time on the golf course allows for time to think clearly and strategically (2) Natural leaders tend to be natural athletes (3) Competitiveness in one area fosters competitiveness in other areas (4) Time away from work rejuvenates the mind, body and spirit, promoting greater effectiveness and success.
This success connection between golfing and executive offices is not lost on women who are making the climb up the corporate ladder —okay, so most stall on the middle rung (that’s another story) — while they are still enjoying the climb, they want to have every tool available to them.
Golf it turns out is probably not going to be that winning tool.
As women executives will tell you, add a woman to the golf game and, the dynamics of a change. “Men get concerned how they play in front of a women more than they do about playing in front of other men, " said Nancy Manderfeld, President of the Minnesota Metro Chapter of the EWGA and a superb golfer.
“Men have a tendency to start the game by telling you all the reasons why they won’t be playing well that day: “I have a bad back and its sore. I haven’t played in a month. I only golf twice a year.”
Nancy says that combining golf with work has definitely been an asset in her work. But other strong women golfers feel they are either overlooked in corporate golf situations for less proficient men players.
Besides being overlooked, Sally says playing with men can be intimidating for many women because golf courses often assume women are at fault for holding up the game. “ The guys go stand on the tee box ,they chit chat, they’ll throw grass in the air to check the wind, they’ll take their sweet time trying to decide what club to use, then when I tee off the ranger comes up, he’ll speak directly to me saying I need to pick up the pace. It drives me crazy.”
Then there’s the delicate matter of winning. “Boys don’t mind losing to a boy. God forbid they lose to a girl,” said Sally.
Nancy agrees that “winning” has sometimes been embarrassing for the client/prospect/vendor. But she adds “they get over it.”
Maybe most do. But it would also be naive to think there isn’t a downside business risk for women who do whup a client/ vendor/prospect on the golf course.
The last thing a business woman needs to do is tee off her business associates—that’s very bad for business. Sometimes, for women, winning comes with a painful price. It is afterall, par for the course.
If you have a business story, trend, perspective, observation or experience you’d like to share, send me an email. All sources are protected and names are changed to avoid getting any fired!