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Golf has long been about making connections.It’s no different in the world of the LIV-PGA Tour.

Kelly Bowie’s daughters have a dream. big one. His 15-year-old son wants to go to law school and possibly dabble in politics. His 12-year-old son plans to become a businessman.

And while their schedules are jam-packed with everything from piano and violin lessons to soccer and volleyball tournaments, Bowie plans to take them to Franklin Park in downtown New York at some point this summer. I am planning to go. bostonhold the golf club in your hands and learn about the game that affects you beyond the fairways and greens.

“There are some things people miss out on by not doing it,” says Bowie. “When you become a young woman playing golf, things change.”

Especially in the corporate world, golf courses, sometimes the 19th hole, driving ranges, and locker rooms can open doors that shareholder meetings, working lunches, Zoom calls, and cocktail mixers can’t.

There is a long relationship between golf and power

If Bowie needs to present evidence to his daughters, he just needs to point out how the crustal plates moved under professional golf last month when there was a heated confrontation between the PGA Tour and the LIV. . golf It ended in a phenomenal deal that seemed to come out of nowhere. The detente was laid by quiet negotiations between the leaders of both organizations during a round at a prestigious private golf club in southwest London.

But the golf course’s reputation as a safe place where business can be conducted and where professions, politics and other careers can be changed forever is nothing new.

steel king Andrew Carnegie After playing a round at St. Andrews Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York in the early 1900s, he agreed to merge his company with a JP Morgan-led company. Nearly every U.S. president in the past century has hit the ground with secret services, advisors, allies, rivals, and sometimes agendas in tow.

So it’s no coincidence that most CEOs of Fortune 500 companies believe golf has helped their careers. It’s no wonder that 90% of his business owners have embraced the game, using it as a way to relax and connect far away from the rigid office environment.

No suits. No tie. No heels. No briefcases or sling bags. No computers and (hopefully) no phones. The sport can be equally frustrating for anyone regardless of skill level, there is plenty of rest time between shots to have a conversation, and just as importantly, exactly who are you playing with? It is important to understand what is going on.

“When you’re on the golf course with someone, you learn about their ethics, their values ​​and their inner intelligence,” said Susan Usher, president and CEO of Usher Group, a New Jersey-based consulting firm. It’s the perfect place for.” “It doesn’t matter if they are good or bad golfers. Do they care about the welfare of the game of the people they play with? Do they care about you?”

But golf’s reputation also comes with challenges. The game has traditionally been played by the wealthy (mostly men, mostly whites), some of whom have organized country clubs with free membership terms. It has historically included racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism.

“Golf was a man’s sport,” said Dr. Deborah Gray, a professor of marketing at Central Michigan University. “Research shows that golf is traditional and passed down through generations.”

And as such, it is exclusive, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Culture is at its peak, in everyday play

The LIV was born as part of Saudi Arabia’s effort to realize the Vision 2030 initiative formulated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This vision includes investing heavily in sports and entertainment in hopes of diversifying the country’s economy and reducing its dependence on its vast oil reserves.

This upstart organization failed to make a significant impact globally. TV ratings, especially in the US, were a fraction of what the PGA Tour gets each week. But in less than 12 months, he succeeded in getting the PGA to the negotiating table, forging a partnership that would give the Saudis access to the U.S. golf scene that the LIV had failed to secure.

The partnership between LIV and the PGA Tour has been met with skepticism and frowns by most parties, including the US Congress. As members of both tours converge at the British Open at Royal Liverpool this week, the leaders behind the deal hope both the public and the players themselves can get rid of sensitive politics, but Saudi Arabia It’s not easy given the human rights violations of the United States — and see the bottom line.

The fact that this agreement was signed between two groups in a sport whose images are very closely aligned with the corporate world (witness the giant sponsor tents that surround the fairways at PGA Tour events) , can be thought of as a case of sport mimicking life.

Last month’s announcement seemed abrupt to the public and, in many cases, to the golfers themselves. There were no traces of paper. No leaks. A paradigm-changing decision was quietly made. Maybe too quiet. All of this epitomizes a game steeped in a culture of connection.

Gray believes the still-ambiguous LIV-PGA partnership will eventually work, but he isn’t concerned about how it will affect people picking up the game. For her, most business professionals who play find it between their feelings for the pinnacle of the sport and the benefits and relationship building that come when an afternoon conference call turns into her ninth hall of friendly matches. A clear line can be drawn.

Alisha Janak certainly does. She began taking lessons about ten years ago not out of her deep-rooted mission, but as a means to an end. She was in her 20s at the time, and she couldn’t help but notice the number of corporate executives and managers. Mazar, at the international audit, tax and advisory firm where she worked, attended courses together. A conversation was taking place that she felt compelled to join her too.

The only solution she could come up with was to grab the club and swing it.

“Before that, I had no interest in it,” says Jarnak. “I saw this as an opportunity for career advancement.”

Jarnak ties some of the relationships she forges on the golf course directly to increased career opportunities. “People we meet can pass business opportunities to each other because we know what we’re doing,” she says. She became Mothers’ partner in her 2020.

The groups Jarnak often plays with are still predominantly male, but she’s noticed a slight shift in demographics lately. So does Usher, who started organizing “Course Connections” at the Montclair Golf Club about ten years ago. Her 3-4 outings a year include instruction and a 9-hole scramble followed by a mixer. Usher estimates that there has been an “explosion” in women’s interest in recent years, with a roughly even distribution of men and women.

“Women are realizing why men are doing it, trading on golf courses, and I can’t,” Usher said.

However, women face obstacles that men do not, especially when it comes to parenting. Gray advocates getting more women involved in gaming, which she believes can be achieved by scheduling outings during working hours rather than after hours or on weekends. However, she points out that women may need to change their mindset when riding carts.

“Men tend to network with people who can help them,” says Gray. “They are more strategic and practical. Women are more true to themselves. They tend to network with people they like.”

Help spread golf to a new group of players

With a thick rulebook and implicit etiquette such as never stepping into someone else’s line on the green and changing divots, golf can be difficult for beginners. But Steve Branch believes the game is essential to career development, which is why he helped launch the “Writing The Code” program at MIT’s Sloan School of Management last fall. It’s one.

Branch, who holds the post of diversity and belonging leader at the school, happened to meet Michael Packard, Foundation Director of PGA REACH New England, at an analytics conference several years ago. A lightbulb moment followed.

“Underrepresented students may have an advantage if they are introduced to the game before they need to play it in the future,” Branch said. “So I saw this as an introductory opportunity, for example, to give them a learning opportunity before they were expected to take advantage of promotion or future career opportunities.”

More than 30 students representing 11 countries participated in the first event last fall, which included instruction from teaching professionals and analysis of golf swings. There are also alumni who believe their exposure to golf has had a direct impact on their lives, namely Bowie, who was in charge of chemical gas systems for Texas Instruments in the late 1990s when he discovered golf. I was also given the opportunity to speak with alumni such as (51). Who is the facilitator? The group of managers, like Bowie, were mostly black.

“It was like ‘golf’? I’m from Alabama and grew up playing football, basketball and baseball,” says Bowie.

He grew up in a small town not far from a golf course. To this day, he has never been on the first tee. “You didn’t go play golf,” he said. “It wasn’t really open to you.”

Bowie is currently Managing Partner of MSAAD Partners, a company that provides technical assistance to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in communities of color. He laughs and admits that his game is still developing, but thinks his relationship with golf is emblematic of how the game is changing.

The game provided connective tissue for several former classmates who go on golf trips with Bowie every year. These vacations act as incubators and places to push things forward between all kinds of trash talk and poker games.

“People are being employed on these trips. People are setting up businesses and discussing what they are going to do on the trip.

That’s one reason Bowie is so keen to help his daughters understand the difference between a 5-iron and a fairway wood.

“If they’re golfers, it will open even more doors for them,” he says.


Associated Press sportswriter Will Graves is based in Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter ( Golf has long been about making connections.It’s no different in the world of the LIV-PGA Tour.

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