If you’ve never been to the PGA Merchandise Show, it will be hard to describe just how large the event actually is. Representatives from all over the industry—from clothing to equipment, to media, to everything you could possibly imagine that falls in between–gather to see everything that’s upcoming this year.

On the showroom floor, nestled between an indoor hitting bay and as many vendors as the eye can see, is the Main Stage, where the biggest announcements in golf are made. It was here that Steve Mona, Executive Director of WE ARE GOLF and a panel comprised of some of the most powerful women in the business of golf gathered together to discuss how the industry can best embrace the philosophy behind #inviteHER.

Launched in August 2018, #inviteHER is an industry-wide initiative to encourage golfers, facility owners, and teaching professionals to welcome the non-golfing women in their lives to take up the game.

The panel is available in its entirety by watching the video below, but here is a brief recap of one of the most visionary panels and conversations at the PGA Show.

Meet the Panelists

Marvol Barnard

National President, LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals

Director of the Player Development at the Club at Las Campanas in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Director of Instruction at Haven Golf Course in Green Valley Arizona. She has been named the 2018 PGA National Player Development Aware Winner and was the 2016 LPGA National Teacher of the Year.

Jane Geddes

Executive Director, LPGA Amateur Golf Association

Serves as the Chair of the Women’s Task Force for the Wolrd Golf Foundation and is a two-time LPGA Major Champion whose resume includes serving Senior Vice President of Talent Relations and Live Events for WWE, Inc. and as the Executive Director of the International Association of Golf Administrators.

Cathy Harbin

President, OnCourse Operations and Owner, Pine Ridge Golf Course

Has nearly +30 years of experience in the golf industry as an operator and golf course manager at the World Golf Villiage and has contributed to the successful launch of the national instructional program, Get Golf Ready.

Donna Orender

CEO, Orender Unlimited and Founder, Generation W

Highly-respected corporate business leader with expansive experience in guiding companies in growth and brand strategies with a focus on sports, digital entertainment, gender equality, and diversity. She’s served as the President of the WNBA and co-authored Connecting with Her.

Suzy Whaley

President, PGA of America

The first woman ever elected to serve as an Officer of the PGA of America who recently assumed the role of President of the PGA of America. She teaches privately at Suzy Whaley Golf in Cromwell, Connecticut and is the Director of Instruction at the Country Club of Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. She famously qualified for and participated in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open, becoming the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to qualify for a PGA tour event.

Ashleigh McLaughlin

Managing Director, LPGA Women’s Network

Ashleigh is the Managing Director of the LPGA Women’s Network. She’s a former collegiate golfer with a degree in Marketing and Communications from Florida State University. When she’s not crafting content, you can find her doing the Cupid Shuffle at an LPGA*USGA Girls Golf clinic.

The Panel

The #inviteHER panel opened with a few words from golf television anchor, Jennifer Mills, stressing the importance of an initiative like #inviteHER, saying, “When you present something with enthusiasm, people are going to buy into it.” She punctuated her point with a broadcast of the #inviteHER commercial.

  • Half of the world’s population is made up of women, but only 20% of the golfing population is.
  • “We want golf to look like what America looks like,” he said. “The goal [of #inviteHER] is to create an environment for women . . . so they can very quickly feel like golf is a game for them.”

The Importance of First Impressions

  • Ensure women new to the game feel as comfortable as possible from the moment they arrive
  • While many golf terms and locations around the range seem like basic information to experienced golfers, our panelists reminded everyone that even finding the bag drop, or that a golfer need not be a pro to go into the pro shop
  • Golf professionals and facilities need to prepare themselves and their staff to be welcoming to these new golfers, from the first phone call to the first time a new golfer walks through the door

A Personal Invitation

  • Cathy Harbin: “When a golf professional is doing the inviting, it’s very powerful.”
  • Jane Geddes:  “Part of the reason people join LPGA Amateur Golf Association (the former EWGA) is to be in a warm, comfortable environment.”
  • Marvol Barnard, as a teaching professional, hosted an event where she asked her students to embrace #inviteHER to its fullest and invite a woman in their lives to a special event clinic. Not two hours after the invitation was sent out over email did she get so many responses of people wanting to participate that she scheduled a second event. Soon enough, she had so many people wanting to participate that she had to start turning people away.

What an Invitation Looks Like

  • How should experienced golfers address concerns about a new golfer’s inexperience around the course?
  • Jane Geddes: An invitation doesn’t have to mean a full round of golf. It could be something small, like a ride-along on a round or a tour of a facility.
  • Cathy Harbin: If a facility needs to start a new group for new golfers, then start a new group. Being welcoming is what’s important.
  • Donna Orender: New players can make the game their own and adapt the game to make it work for everyone.

Watch the Full Panel Discussion