The LPGA Women’s Network has partnered with FORAY GOLF, a company redefining golf apparel for modern women and their unique expressions of style, to celebrate the women who are challenging the status quo in golf.
The Women Beyond Par series puts a spotlight on the pioneers who are growing the game for all girls and women and blazing trails to accomplish their dreams.
Golf starts at the 19th hole . . . at least it does for Women On Course, an organization dedicated to connecting women through the game with engaging events on and off the golf course. When founder Donna Hoffman was learning how to play golf, the thought of getting rewarded with a chilled glass of chardonnay on a beautiful patio and spending time with friends would motivate her to finish 18 holes.
“I was always really intrigued with the 19th hole,” Hoffman said. “I noticed it’s where everyone solidifies their relationships, and they really come alive. Everyone is best friends, and they’re relaxed, so I thought, why can’t you just start the game at the 19th hole?”
That’s how it all began when Hoffman founded Women On Course in 2005. She was always an entrepreneur at heart and after selling her film and video company, she decided to start a golf lifestyle show that was eventually picked up by AOL for their sports channel. The show was so well-received, Hoffman decided to try hosting local happy hour events, and Women On Course was born.
“I wanted to help women to feel empowered so they could accept an invitation to the golf course—they deserve to be doing that,” she said.
Without even realizing it, Hoffman’s organization was serving a demographic the golf industry was desperately trying to reach and better understand. Women’s golf was growing, especially among females in business who wanted to get on the course where deals were being made. Who better to serve them than an organization for women run by women?
“Women aren’t just ’rounds played’—you can’t look at the women’s market as how many rounds are you going to get out of them,” Hoffman said. “They want a relationship and Women On Course spends a lot of time cultivating that relationship.”
In 2008, while the golf industry was hit hard by the recession, Women On Course continued to grow nationwide. Hoffman decided the best way to continue growing the business was to form a partnership with a national golf course management company, and that’s when things went south.
After three years, the management company unexpectedly pulled the funding on the program and Women On Course was in limbo. Devastated, Hoffman went back to the drawing board, determined to bring her vision back to life.
“I knew the amount of work it was going to take to get back to where it was,” Hoffman said. “This time around I wanted to be 100 percent in charge of the vision, and over the years I learned if you keep plugging away good things will happen.”
The encouragement she received from her members was all the momentum she needed to move forward.
“I’ve had people tell me that if it wasn’t for Women On Course they would never have met their best friend,” Hoffman said. “The older you get, the harder it is to find time to meet people and make friends, and golf is something you can bond over.”
Since relaunching in 2017, Women On Course offers golf and networking events in 14 different cities around the US, such as organized golf and beginner lessons, social mixers, and business success workshops. It’s about bridging the gap between the on-course experience and cultivating a community of women who enjoy the game of golf.
As Women On Course continues to grow, Hoffman’s overall mission with the organization is to help women feel comfortable and confident on the golf course, so they never have to turn down an invitation to play whether it’s for business or just for fun.
“There are many different reasons why people pick up the game and no reason is better than another,” Hoffman said. “People always say, ‘I’m a terrible golfer’ or ‘I’m not very good’, and I tell them you are a golfer—we don’t have to put an adjective in front of it that puts you down, just go out there and have fun.”