The third annual SSE Women’s Invitational, hosted at Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club proved a big hit - with 104 high-flying (predominantly) female business executives flocking to the event, which gives them an opportunity to mix business with golf.
The event, which has diversity and inclusion at its heart, is all about encouraging businesswomen to give golf a try. With the majority having absolutely no prior golf experience, ladies from a range of companies including Aberdeen Asset Management, PwC and GSK, took part in an action-packed day, hosted by BBC’s Clare McDonnell.
There was the usual rich array of content throughout the day; panel discussions, guest speakers, a beginners’ golf clinic, a 9-hole competition and a selection of hugely impressive prizes and gifts thanks to a stellar line up of official partners. The conclusion to the day was an on-stage Q&A with former Lions and England rugby coach, Sir Clive Woodward, Olympic hockey gold medal winner, Sam Quek, British Athlete, Jazmin Sawyers and Ladies European Tour rookie Inci Mehmet – masterfully emceed by Sky Sports’ Di Dougherty.
Karen Mattison, Founder of Timewise, kicked off proceedings for the ‘Flexible Working’ debate, one of the main themes of the day, before a panel including Phil Smith (Sport England), Stephanie Zinser (Lynx Golf) and Carlee Hardaker (Aston Martin) explored a thought provoking discussion on this emotive subject.
Zella King, (Co-Founder and CEO, Personal Boardroom) delivered an energetic and engaging session, guiding the delegates on effective networking and interaction techniques, before attendees prepped themselves for an afternoon of golf.
All participants had the opportunity to experience/play golf at their respective levels; participants totally new to the game enjoyed a beginners’ session delivered by love.golf, while more advanced players enjoyed a 9-hole competition on the course. This was all under the watchful eye of European Tour winner and Sky Sports’ golf presenter, Nick Dougherty and Syngenta ambassador, Ladies’ European Tour Professional Carin Koch.
For those new to the sport, the aim was to encourage businesswomen to feel completely at ease in a golf environment, equipping them with some new skills which they can go on to enjoy in a social and professional context. For those who had played golf already – the hope was that these delegates would feel much more confident, and therefore inclined, to utilise golf as a really effective tool for business.
Women & Golf’s Editor Alison Root attended the event and at a time when the industry is trying to attract a new generation of female golfers, she was impressed by the enthusiasm of the young professionals to learn the sport, and their feedback clearly demonstrates that women have an appetite to play golf – if the right scene is set! Many didn’t realise that golf could be so much fun.
Rosie Gosling, a Sponsorship Executive for Aberdeen Asset Management used to play occasionally whilst at university and would have played more if there had been a golf club environment where she thought she could just ‘have a go.’
“I loved it! This was my first time playing a competitive format and from now on I’m going to invest more time to golf.”
For beginner Heidi Godfrey-Jones, Head of Commercial SSE Telecoms, a set of golf clubs have been sitting in her garage for the last 17 years, as it was her experiences at the driving range that had put her off. The love.golf concept, whereby women are introduced to the game in a relaxed environment whilst primarily learning to play on the golf course rather than simply taking a series of technical lessons on a driving range, certainly helped to boost Heidi’s interest.
“I wasn’t great, but I liked the fact that we went straight to a hole and were out on the golf course.”
Overall the golf experience, combined with the business-based thought leadership and networking sessions, made for a professionally enriching, insightful and hugely enjoyable day.
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