Magazine article Management Today

Why I Can't Stand Golf

Magazine article Management Today

Why I Can't Stand Golf

Article excerpt

Men can always tee off if they want to unwind, but for women it can take much trial and error to find an alternative to this most pointless of games.

In the years when I was working full-time with two pre-school-age children, the only moments I had to myself were in the car on my way to and from work. I could think my own thoughts, turn the music up loud and sing along with Tina Turner or Stevie Winwood until I arrived at work/home and clients/babies filled my brain space with their needs and demands. It was the most relaxing time of day, better even than the post-bedtime-story glass of wine. But of course work/life balance had not been invented then. Like most working mothers, I had no time for hobbies, sport, clubs or even friendships, outside a close network of mutually supportive women who sustained each other at times of childcare crises.

The idea of a Saturday spent playing golf was, and still is, laughable. The actual mechanics of the game seem so peculiar - using a stick to hit a little ball into random holes set in miles of grass. As some wise person once said, playing golf spoils a good walk. It also takes up too much time. But maybe for some people (read men) that's the point, in that it gives them the perfect way to avoid domestic life.

I have been told that many big deals are done on the golf course and that the best networking and client bonding is done over a game of golf or in the clubhouse afterwards. Well it has passed me by, not just through a lack of inclination on my part but also because many golf clubs are not particularly welcoming to women. Indeed, many still ban women members altogether, including Augusta, the home of the Masters Tournament, in Georgia and the venerable Royal & Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews. Others place humiliating restrictions on when and where women may play. My favourite is the splendid rule that enables women members to tee off only after 4pm and only from 1 October until 1 March, ie they can only play in the dark.

I am at one with Paul Polman of Unilever who, in these pages, once proudly asserted: 'I have managed to make a decent career without ever once having played golf', although at least he had more of a choice in the matter than I did.

Nevertheless, I do recognise that although golf doesn't do it for me it is a good thing to have a weekend leisure option that doesn't just involve lazing around reading the papers. A change of focus can refresh and renew the spirit for the working week. Everyone should have a violon d'Ingres, meaning a skill beyond the one by which a person is mainly known. Music, art, or writing could be the answer for some, but require at least a modicum of talent or facility to provide a meaningful distraction from work. …

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