When 30-year-old Leslie Templer moved from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale for her job as a marketer at a drug and alcohol treatment center, she quickly noticed that she was behind some of her male colleagues in one area.
“I’ve been doing marketing for years, and getting to Florida, I’ve learned that I’m way behind in making connections because I can’t join the golf tournaments, and that’s where these guys make their best connections,” Templer said. “I decided it was time to learn how to golf.”
Luckily for her, South Florida’s year-round temperate weather and variety of beautiful golf courses meant no shortage of opportunities to play. But first, she had to learn how. So she signed up for a women’s golf boot camp, taught by Professional Golfers’ Association Class A member Kevin Battersby.
“There’s so much business done on the golf course” Battersby said.
In Templer’s case, her job is referral-based, so she reaches out to doctors, physicians, therapists, and hospitals all over South Florida, which means going to conferences and networking events, where “there’s always a golf tournament involved,” Templer said. “That’s how you make your good connections.”
“It’s easier to make friends with somebody after you’ve been on the golf course for two hours, versus them stopping by your booth and you handing over your business card,” she said. “I was missing out on a lot of that.”
Battersby started the class six months ago, and about 30 women have come through the program so far; everyone from nurses and homemakers to corporate women according to Battersby. He said that though the program was originally designed for women in the business world to keep up with their male colleagues on the golf course, it has also attracted women who just want to know how to play.
“There’s a lot of etiquette involved; where to drive the golf cart, where to stand, who plays first, all of the lingo and stuff they need to know,” Battersby said. “The strength of the program is that a group from one company can come and form a group of people to take the class together.”
Cynthia Malloy, an accountant at Citrix, is one of the women who joined Battersby’s golf camp as part of a company group. She started playing sporadically four years ago.
“I had some basic knowledge of the game, but not much knowledge of the etiquette and when to use what club,” Malloy said. “Now I can discuss golf as small talk and have met some other people at the company through it.”
Most of the women taking the class are beginners, like Templer and 31-year-old Emily Tiernan, a real estate agent from Margate.
“I wanted to learn because I’m a competitive person, and golf has a lot of business benefits to it,” Tiernan said. “As a realtor, I had a client recently who said she really wanted to live near a golf course. So being able to say ‘Oh, i’m learning how to play’…it helps bridge the conversation, especially down here.”
The ladies start by learning the basics of putting, chipping, and gripping the golf club. At one recent class, held at the Toski-Battersby Golf Learning Center at the Broward College North Campus, Battersby began with a short putting lesson, then the women teamed up in a scramble-style competition, chipping and putting to specific holes while Battersby offered grip tips and standing suggestions. That’s where most beginning golfers fail, Battersby said.
“Where most people stumble, is when they go to the tee to practice when they can’t putt or chip. That’s kind of like skipping first, second, third grade and jumping right into the deep end,” he said.
But some women, like 73-year-old Patty Sloan, already have the basics mastered. Sloan has been playing golf for 40-plus years, but said that she continues to take lessons because “you can pick up a bad habit real fast.”
“I’m working on being able to hit the ball harder. As you get older, you lose a little bit of your swing, so Kevin is working with me to hit the ball farther and straighter,” she said. “He has great technique, very likeable, and easy to work with. He knows the amount of time you’ll need to practice, so he works with that, getting you to play better, and giving you fundamentals.”
Templer said that in her seven classes with Battersby, he has not only helped her master the fundamentals to the point that she feels comfortable entering a charity golf scramble, but she also feels more confident in her ability to compete with the men she works with.
“It costs money to enter the tournaments, and the guys will tell you, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter how you play, it’s all for fun. But then if you suck … nobody wants to be your partner,” she said. “They’ll be nice to you but at the end they’ll just be annoyed that you made them lose. So it’s worse than if you just didn’t play. I didn’t want to be that person.”
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