Should You Say No to Sports at Work?

sports-at-workYour office is planning an athletic event, and you want to stay far, far away. Even if you’re worried about feeling awkward, should you go anyway to take advantage of the networking opportunities? How can you say NO to work-related sporting events, like golf and tennis outings, and what are you missing out on if you do? Reader B wonders…

Your recent post about dressing for summer events led me to an older post about how to dress as a golf newbie… and boy, the comments struck a chord with me. Or maybe a nerve. I’d love to see a post, and more discussion, on how to deal with outings of all types — particularly when they’re for expensive and time-consuming sports that you don’t play and don’t want to pick up.

A lesson (or even a few lessons) are absolutely NOT enough to get me through a golf scramble. Can I swing and miss 18 times while joking gracefully? Can I pull off an outright refusal? Is it a bad idea to drive the beer cart (this always sounds like it should come with a costume), or just show up for drinks/dinner afterwards? And what do I do after 17 miserable holes, when my division manager is standing at the 18th with his arms folded to judge my golf game?

For reference, I’m in engineering, not law, with 15+ years of experience.

Interesting question, Reader B! In the past, Kat has recommended participating in athletic work events, even if you don’t think your skills are so hot, but we thought we’d get another opinion as well. We talked to Women on Course founder Donna Hoffman (who also advised us on our recent post on proper golf wear) to get her take on this situation. “Golf is so much more than getting the ball in the hole,” she says. “There are so many more benefits” — including the camaraderie, and the opportunity to build relationships.

Here’s what Hoffman recommends for Reader B:

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What to Wear to a Work-Related Golf Event

golf clothes work outingWhat should you wear to golf with colleagues — for example, in a golf scramble — and where should you shop for it? Reader L wonders…

Could you please do a post on clothes for work-related golf outings and where to buy them? I’m attending several golf scrambles with colleagues this summer, and as I’ve never golfed before, I have no idea what to wear or where to shop for it. I’d like to find things that are appropriate without being frumpy. Thanks!

Both Kat and I will freely admit to knowing next to nothing about golf, so we turned to an expert — Donna Hoffman, the president and founder of Women on Course, an organization that encourages women in business to take up golf by offering various events around the country, a membership program, and special discounts. About 15-20% of the women who attend Women on Course events work in the legal field.

Hoffman shared several useful tips for new women golfers planning to attend work-related events:

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Joining the Boys’ Club When You’re a Woman

Boys' club at work | CorporetteShould you join the office boys’ club if you’ll be the only woman? What if your male coworkers meet and talk shop outside of work while taking part in an activity — such as tennis or golf — that you don’t even like? Reader K, who works outside of the U.S., wonders:

I have a question regarding the ‘old boy’s club’ at work; my workplace is fairly conservative, with only 15% of the workforce women (although the number is increasing in the younger generation), but quite politically correct and thus nothing seriously sexist or misogynist. My male boss, in his mid-50s, has been fantastic to work with, and as a recruit (from a different company, relocating quite a distance), I’ve been happy with my position and also see potential in the company itself. BUT, after three years, I see that there is a ‘boy’s club’, where they get together and play tennis, have a beer, and get things done. My boss has even suggested that I join the tennis club (playing once a week or so) — but I’ll be the only female and really don’t like tennis. What would you do?

Tough question, K. We’ve talked about networking with older men, dealing with sexist coworkers, and whether or not to pick up the tab at lunch with a group of male partners, but not specifically about this topic. I’d ask myself a few questions first:

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What to Wear to a Company Golf Outing

golf skirtWhat do you wear for a company golf outing? Reader C has a great question that we haven’t talked about in a while:

Would you consider doing a post on what to wear to the corporate golf outing? I have several to go to this year, in US and UK – and need some guidance.

Wowza. We talked about what to wear to a company golf scramble back in the early days of this blog (with a bit of help from a girlfriend of mine who is a golfer), but I thought we’d revisit the topic. I’m not a big golfer myself — readers, what would you wear to a golf outing?

Some thoughts from poking around the web: [Read more…]

Coffee Break – Classic 48-Inch Automatic Golf Umbrella

GustBuster Classic 48-Inch Automatic Golf UmbrellaI normally think it’s rude to carry a huge umbrella on city streets. Sure, the person who carries it stays dry, but everyone else on the sidewalk gets jabbed and poked. But when it’s seriously raining, and you *must* be outside, I suppose that’s when it’s time to break out the big guns: the GustBuster. This highly rated golf umbrella can supposedly even weather gusts of 55 miles per hour. Nice. It’s $34.95-$49 at, available in hunter, black, navy, and burgundy. GustBuster Classic 48-Inch Automatic Golf Umbrella


Reader Mailbag: Golf Clothing for a Newbie

golf clothing for a newbie2017 Update: Links have been updated below on this post about golf clothing for a newbie; you can also check out our latest discussion of what to wear to a work-related golf event.

The summer golf outing thrown by your company or firm can be one of the trickiest for women professionals. Are they still great networking opportunities for young women? You betcha. Here’s the request from someone desperate for golf clothing for a newbie:

Would love to hear suggestions on what a young female associate who has never stepped foot on a golf course should wear to a corporate or firm golf event.

Okay, here’s an admission: we are totally wimps when it comes to golf. Thus, we had to call in a girlfriend who’s a golfer, a fashionista, and an MBA to boot. At our friend’s request, we asked for more information, and it turns out our intrepid reader is attending a golf scramble. (Our friend’s initial response: She has no prior experience and she’s in a scramble? This has humiliation written all over it.) Below, our friend’s advice in blue. (Picture at left: Grand Cayman Golf, originally uploaded to Flickr by Fevi in Cayman.)

First, I’d recommend some time with a golf pro. Try calling the club or a driving range to find such a pro — group lessons are always cheaper, but a good price range to expect to pay is about $100/hour. Take a few lessons to get comfortable with the clubs, golf terminology and etiquette (very important). You will probably rent or borrow clubs; sharing with another player is frowned upon. If your lessons get you hooked on golf, by all means discuss investing in a set of your own with the pro, he will have some sound advice. In addition, a beginner set will not set you back too much. You’ll also need to select some balls and tees (buy extra – they are easily lost). [Read more…]

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