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    Debbie's Blog

Looking Ahead from the Forward Tees

I wasn’t able to travel to the recent PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL due to a last minute schedule change, but the change gave me the opportunity to attend the LPGA “We Are The Women in Golf Breakfast” via Facebook Live (gotta love technology!). I’m glad I could “attend,” because I heard some exciting—and let’s say interesting news.

First, the LPGA is launching the Women’s Network, a resource dedicated to being the “go to” community for women wanting information about golf. Also being launched is a program called LPGA Golf 101. The mission of this “by women, for women” program is to let women learn about golf in a comfortable environment.

The LPGA further announced it has formed a strategic partnership with the Executive Women Golf Association (EWGA), one of the largest national women’s amateur organizations in the country. According to Nancy Henderson, LPGA Chief Teaching Officer/LPGA Foundation President, the goal is to ensure “every woman has a place to play golf with another woman.” Hmmm.

Endorsing the Women’s Network rollout is Nancy Lopez, who is joined by four corporate sponsors that are enthusiastic about the initiative. Each sponsor has specific reasons for its support:

•Dow continues a partnership with golf that spans almost 5 decades. This sponsorship advances their diversity and inclusiveness policy/strategy. The company recently announced they now have a Chief Inclusiveness Officer.

•KPMG embraces the opportunity to extend their existing commitment to the KPMG Women’s LPGA Championship; to further inspire greatness; and to promote golf as a business tool.

•XL Catlin (specialty insurance and reinsurance) has many men in their organization and seek to bring more women into leadership roles. The company has doubled down on their diversity and inclusiveness strategy the past couple of years. They view the LPGA partnership as a good fit, like the women helping women aspect, and see an opportunity to connect even more with local communities.

•KIA Motors is a long-time partner of the LPGA and view this sponsorship as an extension of their partner relationship and a good way to continue to grow their passionate connection to what they already are doing with sports platforms.

Including Nancy Lopez to lead the way for the Women’s Network is a great decision and excellent marketing move. She is one of golf’s most dynamic ambassadors and a tireless advocate not only for bringing more women into the game, but making it fun. She believes playing golf can be enjoyed by everyone, and wants to help girls love the game like she does—and like her dad did. Her dad introduced her to golf. Removing obstacles to playing is one her objectives. She recalls the hurdles she faced when she was young. Her high school in New Mexico, for example, didn’t have a golf team for girls. Despite being an outstanding player, she wasn’t allowed to compete on the boys team because golf was categorized a “Body Contact Sport.” A female teacher became an advocate for her and helped remove the categorization so that Nancy could tee it up with the boys. Nancy is a winner, so we can look forward to great things from the Women’s Network.

Thanksgiving Group Shot

But about the interesting news…

As everyone who knows me will attest, I am a huge fan of coed golf—women and men playing the game together. The first time I ever played, I was in a group that included two men. I didn’t know one club from another, thought “Driver” referred to the person driving the golf cart, and searched my borrowed bag of clubs for a good minute trying to find the Foot Wedge that one of the men told me I needed for my next shot. Oh, and I was pregnant with my daughter, Amy. I have never forgotten how much fun I had that day, and helping others to find that same wonderful experience on the golf course has been one of my missions ever since.

I founded TTFN with the assistance of a client (Take Time For Nine or Thursday Time For Nine…we never could settle on one name or the other during its first 15 years of existence), with the intention of creating a fun, no-stress environment for women and men to play golf together and to advance potential business relationships. I wanted women to learn, as I had, that golf is a marvelous business tool, and being able to play with men is a great door opener. Many business deals get done as a result of TTFN’s weekly 9-hole outings, and lifelong friendships form easily and effortlessly. It is truly a comfortable environment.

My belief is this: women don’t need golf to further personal and professional relationships with women. In my experience, women are expert organizers and networkers, and do just fine in this regard without needing golf in the equation. But the gift golf gives to women is that it enables them to engage with men in an environment that welcomes and encourages promoting business connections—an environment in which women are part of the conversation and share with their male counterparts everything from engaging and strategic discussions to the simple banter and camaraderie of friendship.

I’m cheering for the LPGA’s new programs to be successful and achieve fantastic results, with many new women coming to this great game and adding it their lifestyle choices. At the same time, I hope everyone remembers that golf is and should be an inclusive sport that women and men can enjoy together.

Turn Golf into Gold®

Debbie Waitkus an author, speaker and business-golf consultant, is the President and Founder of Golf for Cause, LLC. She speaks to groups and consults with organizations to help them amplify their messages through golf. “Turn golf into gold.®” Debbie can be reached at 602.722.3605 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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