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April 2019

Kemper’s Flexibility a Model for Attracting Women Managers

By Steve Eubanks

Christie Paich knows the anxieties. She understands the constraints. She appreciates the hesitation.

As a woman running The Glen Club in suburban Chicago, she gets all the factors that keep women away from the game, both as players and operators.

“Look, we in hospitality are working those hours when the Fortune 500 people aren’t,” Paich said. “We have to be available odd hours and a lot of hours. That’s the nature of the business and that has traditionally turned some women away from careers in the golf and club industry.” 

But with this past March 8 being International Women’s Day, Paich wanted women to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. “I’ve been very fortunate working with Kemper Sports (which manages The Glen Club). They’ve been very flexible. I remember when I was first speaking with (the people at Kemper,) I told them I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this because I had children and needed to do something that allowed me to be with them. I was told from the beginning, ‘Look, it’s not the amount of hours you spend at the club, it’s what you accomplish. It’s getting the job done.’ Quality over quantity. That’s the key.

“The golf industry as a whole hasn’t always taken that mindset. And we’ve seen a talent drain because of that, especially among women.”

Paich is doing her part to rectify that, mentoring other women who want to carve a career in the golf industry.

“The big thing I tell young women is that you don’t have to pretend to be one of the guys to be a success in this business. Be yourself,” she said. “I have a 14-year-old daughter and I’m telling her all the time: be yourself. Do what you do. People will respect you more and admire what you do more if you don’t try to be what you’re not.” 

From a participation standpoint, Paich acknowledges that women make up the fastest growing segment of the game. But she also understands the challenges.

“A lot of women entering the game are turned off by the time commitment and the learning curve,” she said. “So we do a lot of things to minimize both. We have a program (at The Glen Club) called ‘Show and Go,’ which is a 9-hole outing (for women) where you simply show up and play. No scores are posted. You don’t have to keep score if you don’t want. You don’t even have to finish. It’s a social gathering. That is been well received because the pressure is off. Women get it. This is an afternoon out with friends.
“We also have a learning environment called ‘Wine and Women.’ We set up food and wine and seating areas on the driving range, right next to the hitting bays, and have instruction in a laid-back setting. It’s been a big hit.” 

Paich appreciates that the time commitment in golf will always be an issue for some women.

“With everything else we as women have on our plates, it’s hard to carve out four or five hours for anything,” she said. “That’s why we have to create an environment for golf-related activities that are more flexible and attractive to women. We know that the next generation woman (club) manager is going to come from the girls and young women we introduce to the game now. That’s important (for golf) now and in the future.”  

Steve Eubanks is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and New York Times bestselling author.

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