By LJ Finney
Golf is an easy way to enjoy nature, improve flexibility, think strategically, socialize with friends, and meet new people, all while getting your 10,000 steps in for the day. Earamichia Brown of McKinney, Texas, embraced golf a few years ago. Originally from New York City, she was investigative counsel for the State Inspector General. “My work doesn’t allow me to get up often and my life can be very solitary. I thrive outdoors. I need sun and to be in nature. Golf is an excuse for me to get outside and meet new people. It aids my overall health and stability. I get to look at the sky, and it soothes my soul, it adds to my artistic flow.” says Brown.
Before you say golf is not for me or I have never been athletic and move on, know that you’re not alone: Women often have a negative impression of golf: it takes too much time, costs too much money, playing sports is unappealing, hitting a little white ball is illogical, or a bad golf experience earlier in life turned you off. The objective of the golf is to get the ball into the hole 18 times, with the least number of strokes (times you hit the ball). A standard round of golf consists of 18 holes, ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 yards total. Each hole has a different length, different terrain, and different obstacles like sand, lakes, or trees. It is a social sport where people use various sized golf clubs to hit a ball, like a driver, woods, irons, or putter. When people jokingly refer to the 19th hole, the reference is to the place people go after the round ends, the golf clubhouse bar. What makes golf good for any age is that it requires no specific skill to begin except patience.
Who is the average golfer? The game is most commonly played by professional men because it is a tool for building relationships in their career. More women are taking up golf, according to surveying organizations like the National Golf Foundation*. According to the 2018 National Golf Association survey, there were “5.7 million female On-Course Golfers. Females represent a disproportionately higher percentage of beginners (31%), juniors (36%) and off-course participants (44%) than they do in the overall golf population.” However, these studies do not indicate how many of the women are black or of any color. The ambiguity and lack of information is not a surprise, women of color have historically struggled to be seen, in plain sight. However, you don’t need a study to know that there are more sisters playing the game, just google Black Girls Golf, or Women of Color Golf. Black women play golf.
Brown spent more than 10 years as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. She graduated from George Mason University and Howard University School of Law. Like many Northerners, she moved South for better weather and to practice law while exploring her other interests like textile artistry and golf. “Golf was a guaranteed way to be around a more diverse group of men and women. I am a lawyer and I’m always around lawyers. Golf exposes you to people that have a similar socioeconomic status. It gives you access to a different group of people,” says Brown.
Golf keeps you mentally sharp because much of the game is spent thinking about what step to take next. It also helps with balance, and because the swing engages core muscles, it whittles her waist too. Brown shared, “I do find that the stronger I am physically, the better I am at my game.”
For the cost of any other hobby (or, say, shopping, painting and sipping, or spa-ing), golf has the added benefits of being tax-deducible when playing at a charity event, more interactive and less expensive when taking group lessons. Anyone can build a new community and stave off loneliness by playing golf. While everyone else is working, you can play for less money because tee times are reduced to almost half-price during the weekdays at public golf courses. Public courses are open to everyone and the prices are considered peak during times of higher demand. Private courses and country clubs are not open to the public. To use the facilities, an invitation from a member is required. The process varies to join a private club, it usually includes an initiation fee and annual membership dues. This allows unlimited access to the golf facilities. Golf is an exclusive sport but understanding the game, is the first step to socioeconomic access.
Here are a few other ways to get into the game:
If golfing seems intimidating, ask your social network if anyone already plays or is interested in learning to golf with you. Call or go to your local golf course or a driving range near your home. New golfers can rent clubs from the pro-shop instead of buying clubs prematurely and ask for beginner lessons. “Because I was self-employed, I was my friend’s driver to the golf tournaments and while I was at the events, I would take the golf clinics,” says NYC Entertainment Publicist, Tasha Stoute. She has represented some of the biggest music brands like K. Michelle, Ledisi, Tank, and most recently Brandy.
Find your tribe
Social golf groups simplify the process of building a golf network. In the NYC area there are groups like LPGA Amateurs Golf Association, Black Jewels Ladies Golf Association, or United Black Golfers Association (co-ed) that embrace beginners and offer guidance as you learn the game, it also provides a natural community. Whether you learn with someone or take lessons alone, growth in the game is an individual journey. The art and science of golf, is accepting the futility of comparing oneself to anyone else. “In taking the clinics, I was a little excited and intimidated because of my own health issue. My wrists don’t bend as a side effect of having Rheumatoid Arthritis and someone told me I wouldn’t be able to play. I don’t like being told what I can’t do. I wanted to do well and I pushed myself, it felt good and sparked something. My focus was to make contact and keep hitting the ball. It was actually fun to hit that little ball.”, says Stoute.
Groups like Sistas On The Links in California, Sisters Across America in Florida, Lady Drivers Golf Club in Mississippi, The Chicago Women’s Golf Club in Illinois are all committed to supporting black women’s growth in the game because it is an enjoyable way to spend a time outdoors, and make new friends. “I met Sonja through the membership person at the Texas LPGA chapter. We became friends because of our love of golf. We are a similar age and I would not have met her because she’s a CPA and she was from Texas. We wouldn’t have flowed in the same circles,” says Brown. Your golf tribe is waiting for you to arrive, what are you waiting for?
The Girlfriends Getaway
When planning your next vacation, in addition to selecting beachfront properties, look for the best local golf courses. Skip the horseback riding and splurge on quick 9 holes at a golf course, followed by a spa treatment. Most courses have driving ranges and you can schedule an individual or group lesson. Where there is golf, there are also men, so dress in your cutest golf gear and make new friends.
* For more information about the 2018 National Golf Association survey, visit National Golf Foundation at www.ngf.org/golf-industry-research
Devoted to bridging the lifestyle gap between golfers and non-golfers, LJ Finney is a consultant, podcaster, and writer living in Harlem, NY. Her company IN-18 LLC, provides professional development training and team building events for corporations and organizations. Using golf as a medium, IN-18 teaches the art of mastering interpersonal skills and inclusion.
LJ, is also an active member of the LPGA Amateur Golf Association. She serves as Director of Events for the New York City chapter. Over her golf career, LaToya has golfed with Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon, retired NY Knicks player Artis Gilmore, comedian Katt Williams among others. She’s played and covered courses in Scotland, Ireland Malaysia, Dubai, Zihuatanejo, Thailand, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
LJ Finney is growing the game among women and all underrepresented communities. For more information, visit www.IN-18.com, follow her on Instagram @msladylovesgolf and check out her podcast anchor.fm/TeesMe