Professional women learn to play golf for networking, deal-making

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Kristen Ambrosino, a 28-year-old real estate professional from Huntington Village, recalls her father and brother using golf as an excuse to get away from the office but soon realized that golf was much more than just a leisure activity. She discovered that many deals in the real estate world start and close on the golf course. Ambrosino is one of the increasing number of women in traditionally male-dominated professions who have recognized the potential of golf in enhancing their career success. These women are breaking what is known as the “grass ceiling” by improving their golf skills and using the sport as a networking tool.

Women executives are now taking up golf as a means of expanding their professional networks. Cathy Engelbert, the Commissioner of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), has observed this trend among women in leadership roles. Engelbert, who is also on the executive committee of the United States Golf Association (USGA), learned to play golf years ago for pleasure. However, she realized its networking potential after discussing the sport with a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Engelbert discovered that golf helped build her network of business leaders, benefiting her role both in the basketball world and in the corporate sector.

At H2M architects + engineers, Mike Gentils has noticed the growing interest of women in the golf classes he teaches for the Women’s Leadership Employee Resource Group. The program consists of teaching women professionals the basics of golf, including golf history, slang, and etiquette. After classroom sessions, Gentils provides one-on-one instruction on the golf range. These sessions help women gain confidence and skills needed to participate in corporate outings or networking events that involve golf.

The golf culture has long been associated with a “good ol’ boys” network, but this is changing with the increasing participation of women. Golf originally started in 15th century Scotland as a sport enjoyed by various classes of people. By the mid-19th century, higher-class individuals and businessmen began to enjoy playing golf in exclusive clubs. However, the sport was male-dominated and exclusive until recently. Women are now actively breaking into this previously male-only space, demonstrating that the “good ol’ boys” network no longer applies.

Kristen Ambrosino, who works as a controller at ACC Real Estate Services Inc., joined golf lessons specifically designed for professional women to compete effectively in her industry. As one of the few young women in commercial property management, she often feels out of place at business events. Learning to play golf has allowed her to connect with others on a more personal level, bridging gaps that traditional networking methods cannot achieve. Ambrosino believes that playing golf and attending outings create a more personal connection, which is crucial for creating new business opportunities.

Golf not only serves as a networking tool but also reveals a person’s character. The serene atmosphere of a golf course combined with the leisurely nature of the sport provides an ideal environment for assessing someone’s personality and determining their true character. Golf is more than just a game; it is a powerful tool for women in business seeking to break barriers and establish meaningful connections.


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