September 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions Gender GAMES September 1999 Current Issue
September 1999
Class act: A clinic at the HyTEE Women's Golf Classic.

Gender GAMES

When creating golf events, these planners factored in the male-female ratio

By Sarah J.F. Braley Illustration by Richard Osaka

Today, 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 competition.

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.

Man kind
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.

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