Breaking the Green Ceiling

May 29, 2012

A recent Catalyst survey found that 46% of women cited “exclusion from informal networks” as the biggest impediment to reaching their career goals, and golf was mentioned as one of the primary such networks from which women felt excluded.

At the Center for Women in Business Summit in March, several speakers suggested that women should find a replacement for golf like sitting on non-profit boards. While alternatives are worthwhile, the truth is there is nothing that compares to the networking that occurs on a golf course.

Golf is a shared journey that creates a bond with your fellow players. Playing golf gives you a rare commodity in business – time. When was the last time you spent 5 hours straight with an existing or potential customer, a colleague, a strategic partner, or even an old friend? If it happens it’s likely in a conference room or hotel ballroom at an offsite retreat -- not a beautiful relaxed setting.

The journey, time and setting gives you the opportunity to really get to know someone and make a lasting impression. Once you play golf with someone they’ll always take your call – it is almost an unwritten rule.

When I ask women why they don’t play, they invariably say they’re not good enough and don’t want to embarrass themselves. Here are a few well kept secrets to consider to change that mindset:

  • Most men are bad golfers too! It is a hard sport and who has the time to practice to lower scores? We’re in business!
  • Your partners don’t care about your shots because they’re so concerned about their own!
  • Don’t worry about your score – most guys don’t count every stroke!

Now that you know the secrets, here are a few tips to consider to get started:

  • Take lessons and hit the driving range a bit before teeing it up.
  • Play quickly.
  • Don’t be afraid to just pick up your ball and move on.

The golf course is too valuable an opportunity for business success to pass up. Take some lessons, relax, enjoy, and use golf to build your networks and leadership.

Neil Hare is president of Global Vision Communications, based in Washington D.C.