The day was April 13. The year was 1997.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Sunday, my whole family was silently huddled around the TV like boy scouts around a camp fire. Football season was over, the NBA was right about to go into the playoffs. But this room full of black people was dead silent, staring at the TV.
For the first time ever, everyone in the house was glued to nothing other than golf. Yes, golf! That August day in Georgia, a young Tiger Woods went on to make history to become the first American of Black Decent to win a Major Golf Tournament, ever. Also, standing at 6’2″ and mere 155 pounds, the young 21 year old was the youngest ever to do it with the largest margin in the 20th century, second only to Old Tom Morris’ 13-shot margin at the 1862 British Open.
That was a day I’ll never forget. He made golf finally look cool. So cool that many thought his influence would cause a shift to make more kids of different ethnicities want to pay golf.
Sadly, that is really not the case today.
Even though there was an uptick during his peak years of blacks wanting to play golf, today, it is still a sport dominated by white males.
According to the 2015 Golf Diversity & Inclusion report:
American golfers are 77 percent male and 80 percent white.
Among professional golfers, 75 percent are male and 86 percent white.
The next question is, why?
Some people say it’s too expensive. But according to Rodney Green, a black professional golfer, “Golf has become much more affordable over the years as golf courses are lowering their prices to provide more rounds”. ( Read the whole article at Black Enterprise ).
Other explanations include it’s too hard, it takes too much time, I have to be in the sun all day, and the worst one of all, it’s not a black sport. The truth is, these are nothing more than excuses. Especially when weighed against the vast benefits it could provide to you as a black professional.
- Did you know that Golf is considered amongst many to be the official sport of business? Ninety percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs play golf, and 80% of executives say playing golf has helped them establish new business relationships. – according to Forbes
- There is no better place to build a connection with someone. We have all taken a new potential business partner or client out to dinner to only get an hour or less to conduct business. Between the constant interruptions and trying to eat and talk at the same time, you might get 30 minutes of actual building done. On a golf course, you will get anywhere between four to five hours and most of that is talking! What a great way to build a connection!
- You will really get to know who you are doing business with. I’m not going to lie, golf is a mentally tough game. You have your good days and bad days just like in business. That’s why business men and women love it so much. You can see in a relatively short amount of time a person’s weakness and strengths. Most people in powerful positions agree that the way some plays golf is the way they take on life. Do they want to quit because things are not going their way? Do they cheat and move the ball ? By the end of the day, you will see it all.
If you’re still not convinced, here is a infographic from Syracuse University’s MBA program talking about the importance of golf in business.
So, even though I have not taken golf as serious as I should have, I thank God everyday for my grandfather who stressed to me the importance of knowing how to play. He overemphasized staying relaxed, not trying to overthink, and learning to enjoy the moment. Those are lessons I will carry with me, on and off the golf course.
Whether it’s been for business or pleasure, I have benefited so much from this game that he taught me how to play while many others considered it not a sport. I really hope more blacks will come to embrace the magic of this beautiful game for pleasure and business.