The Howard Tech Council will host its first golf clinic this week, aimed at helping tech and business entrepreneurs learn the basic skills and etiquette of golf.
The clinic, “Techies and Tees,” has 10 slots and is aimed in particular at women and giving them a chance to learn about an aspect of business networking that Howard Tech Council Executive Director Tracy Turner said women are too often left out of. This will be the program’s pilot year.
“It’s a man’s world in the business community and the tech community,” Turner said. “There is a glass ceiling and I’m just a proponent of arming women with whatever skills they need.”
Howard Tech Council is a group within the county’s Economic Development Authority and the Women in Tech Affinity Group is a part of the tech council. The council has 250 member companies, 30 percent of which are female owned, according to Turner. As of February there were 863 tech products and services companies in the county, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The one-hour weekly sessions begin today and will focus on giving players the confidence to not only play golf, but use it as a business asset, said Joan Lovelace, Head Pro at Hobbits Glen Golf Course, who will be coaching the clinics. Lovelace herself is a trailblazer; she was the first female to play on a high school varsity boys’ team in the county while a student at Howard High School in the 1970s.
“In business in general, there is a lot of great networking that can be done on the golf course. If you invite [a client] to play golf, then you now have a captive audience for a couple of hours and you’re right there with them and you’re forming that relationship with them,” Lovelace said. “I try to do this a lot with women especially, because it definitely gives them an edge to get to know some of these clients that may be male and interested in golf.”
The idea for the clinic came after tech council member and co-lead of its ambassador committee Talia Fletcher volunteered last fall at a golf fundraiser and found a lack of female players. Fletcher said she wanted to create a way for more women to feel comfortable on the course.
“As a member of the tech council for years, I thought this would be great to do with women in tech, encouraging women to get a little bit outside [their] comfort zones and learn something new,” Fletcher said. “If that’s not a space that women have normally been invited to, because people think women don’t know how to play golf or do certain things, then this could open doors for people.”
The county clinic is an example of a wider push in recent years to create ways for women to be better included in informal business networking, such as golf. Jean Tate, president of the Baltimore regional chapter of the Executive Women’s Golf Association, a national organization dedicated to female business leaders and golf, said in the past year and a half the chapter has seen a 20 percent rise in membership, growing to 150 people. More women are looking to learn the sport, Tate said, because they want to be a part of company outings and golf events.
“A lot of business happens on the golf course. Even outings for fun, there’s often a component of people talking about business. It’s also just a great way to network, that’s why women need to get out there,” Tate said. “If they can feel comfortable and have fun on the golf course, that transcends, it changes how they’re seen in the business place.”
Turner said she hopes to see the clinic become a biannual event, with another session potentially in the fall. It’s one of several forms of programming the women in tech council has planned for the year, including a Women in Tech Trailblazer Event in May to hear from successful female business owners in the area. Turner said the events focus on promoting mentorship and leadership.