Meetings & Conventions Gender GAMES September
When creating golf events, these planners factored in the
By Sarah J.F. Braley Illustration by Richard OsakaT
oday, 20 percent of the golfing population is
female, and 40 percent of new golfers in 1998 were women, according
to the Jupiter, Fla.-based National Golf Foundation. The changing
demographics of the game means the "typical" golf outing has been
redefined, with planners paying close attention to the gender mix
as well as the skill level of players.
Some organizations are choosing to create events just for women
in order to encourage their participation and help them learn not
only how to play the game but also how to do business on the golf
course. But there are still occasions where only men show up, even
though a mixed list of potential golfers have been invited on the
outing. The following profiles of three successful events
demonstrate how planners tackled the challenge differently for
all-women, mixed and all-men golf outings.
A woman's prerogative
The second annual HyTEE Women's Fall Classic, Hyatt Regency Grand
Cypress, Orlando, Fla., Sept. 12-13, 1998
Events that encourage women to learn golf and benefit from the
business opportunities inherent in the game are high on networking
but low on pressure. This is the goal of HyTEE, staged by Hyatt
Hotels Corp. for about 30 Hyatt saleswomen and executives and about
50 of their clients.
"Women are different when men aren't around," explains Christie
Hicks, the hotel company's vice president of national sales and
founder of HyTEE. "This could be perceived as a bit discriminatory,
but that's a criticism I am willing to accept. I don't want it to
turn into just a girl thing; I want it to be a business opportunity
that happens to be female."
The golf. Taking clubs in hand on Saturday
morning, the attendees were broken into eight groups for
instruction in full swing, chipping and pitching. This was followed
by a box lunch and an afternoon of choices: putting clinics, 18
holes of golf, free time at the pool or horseback riding. Sunday
began with a breakfast session on golf and business, followed by
more clinics. After another box lunch, golfers competed in a
best-ball tournament, and each group was aided by a pro for five
holes to goose their scores. "One thing I might change this year
would be to have a nine-hole tournament for beginners and an
18-hole event for seasoned players," says Hicks. "For us to saddle
someone with an 18-hole tournament may leave them with a less
favorable impression than we want. A nine-hole tournament may leave
them wanting a little more."
The giveaways. "We try to make the gifts
specific to the event, with a female perspective," says Hicks. On
the first night, the women found a Hyatt HyTee sleep shirt in their
rooms; the second night, mesh gym bags arrived, and the third
night, they received sleeveless women's golf shirts in soft colors,
chocolate golf balls, fruit and small canvas makeup bags.
The entertainment. The women all arrived in
style Friday afternoon, gathering for the first time for a casual
reception poolside, surrounded by vintage Harley-Davidson
motorcycles. After dinner the following night, participants were
bused to Disney's Pleasure Island. On Sunday night, a
Western-themed meal was served in the Grand Cypress Equestrian
Center, and everyone was encouraged to wear comfortable clothes
because the dinner was followed by relay races on horseback.
Mixing it up
The second annual Women's Initiative Golf Clinic 1999, Stanton
Ridge Golf & Country Club, Stanton, N.J., June 29, 1999
Don't be fooled by the name of the event. This year's version
welcomed 45 men and 55 women. The invitees included all of
Parsippany, N.J.-based Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group's
Northeast-region senior managers and partners, many of whom are
men; each of them in turn invited a female client. "The goal is to
provide a forum to network with our female clients and prospective
clients in a relaxed setting," says senior manager Julie Sterling
of D&T. The clinic format was chosen to minimize
The golf. The 100 attendees were split into two
groups. In the morning session, half of the golfers received
instruction from LPGA and PGA instructors at various clinic
stations, working on full swing, putting and chipping, as well as
sand and approach shots. A golf-swing analyzer, a machine that
breaks down every facet of the golfer's movement, was set up to
show where corrections were needed. At that time, the other half of
the group was playing nine holes accompanied by instructors. After
lunch, the two groups switched activities. Throughout the day,
contests were held for chipping, putting and the longest drive.
The giveaways. The 100 attendees received a
grab bag of golf products, including Nicole Miller golf shirts,
balls, tees, divot tools, shoe bags and umbrellas. To entice
everyone to fill out an evaluation card in the back of the
itinerary booklet, golfers received small travel bags filled with
more balls when they returned the completed surveys.
The entertainment. Breakfast started at 7 a.m.,
followed by keynote speaker Lynn Martin, former secretary of labor
under President Bush and now chair of D&T's Council on the
Advancement of Women. The day of golf was topped off by a cocktail
reception and hors d'oeuvres, unlike last year, when a full dinner
was held. "We wanted to keep the day from going too long," says
Sterling. "People were really tired." Cocktails were served on the
club's veranda, overlooking the first tee, where Jay Golden, golf
teacher and comedian, put on a show of trick shots and jokes.
Contest prizes were awarded at this time.
Desert Madness '99 Return to the Canyon, Desert Canyon Golf Resort,
Orondo, Wash., March 26-28, 1999
In this politically correct era, organizations are reluctant to
admit they arrange golf events solely for men. "Oh, we always
invite women, but sometimes only men show up. We don't plan events
specifically for men," goes the mantra.
This particular outing always takes place over the weekend of
the NCAA Basketball Final Four. It is not a business event
participants sign up and pay their own way, just for the fun of it
but it would be easy to tweak the format for a corporate event.
"The tournament started out with just a few of us brothers, dads,
friends and has grown from there to an expected field of 100
players for the 2000 trip," says Chris Guise, tournament director
for Seattle-based Golf Events LLC.
"We've had people in this group approach us about doing similar
events around sporting events for their corporations," Guise says.
For instance, when bringing in a sales team, he might split the
larger group into smaller groups, further building the team by
putting people from the same region together or housing salespeople
and their support staff in the same villa.
The golf. Whether gathering for business or
just the fun of it, participants come to play, play, play. There is
a Friday afternoon practice round, then both Saturday and Sunday
mornings feature shotgun tournaments. Guise uses this format where
everyone tees off at the same time, 8:30 a.m. for a purpose. On
Saturday, players must be done around the same time so no one
misses the start of the first basketball game. On Sunday, play
wraps up and prizes are awarded by about 3 p.m. so everyone can get
home at a decent hour.
The giveaways. All the men got Ashworth golf
shirts and cigars, and the condos were stocked with marinated
steaks ready for the grill, beer in the fridge, and chips and
salsa. Prizes, including umbrellas, rain suits and wind jackets,
were awarded for closest to the pin and longest drive on both days.
"We're in the Northwest," explains Guise, "so we play a lot of golf
in the rain." If this were a business outing, he would put logos on
the items. "We'd also add a hole-in-one contest and have some sort
of four-wheel-drive vehicle as the prize," he adds.
The entertainment. Upon arrival at the condos
on Friday, players could relax and cook up dinner themselves, then
join the group for a reception at 9 p.m. On Saturday afternoon, the
men all gathered for the basketball tournament's semifinal games.
That evening, guests were shuttled to a local casino for cigars and
gambling at private tables.
Back to Current Issue indexM&C
| Events Calendar
| Incentive News
| Meetings Market
| CVB Links
| Reader Survey
| Hot Dates
| Contact M&C