Why Are There Still Firsts?
It's a typical day in February, I'm looking through my Facebook feed and see endless story headlines that read, "The first women to (fill in the blank)" or "The first African American to (fill in the blank)". I do my obligatory click heart emoji and share the post to spread the good news! Then suddenly I think, "why is this just now happening in 2019?!" Have you ever asked yourself that question? . . . No, maybe you should.
When I think of my favorite sport, golf, I have easily achieved many milestones in my short 34 years on this earth! Let's see I've. . .
. . .started the first golf team at my high school (Laurel School, 2000)
. . .been the first African American to play and captain for my college golf team. (Gannon University, 2002)
. . .worked as the first woman head golf professional at two golf courses. (Cleveland Metroparks, 2008)
Sadly, I most likely have not reached the end of my trailblazing years. There are so many firsts to be had in this industry! In 2019 alone, we celebrated Suzy Whaley, the first woman president of PGA of America; Robert Lee Elder, the first African American to receive the Bobby Jones award (USGA’s highest honor); and Mackenzie Mack, the first African American to receive a national award from the LPGA (Junior Golf Leader), and these are just national recognitions. Should we even celebrate these accomplishments? Of course! But try looking at the big picture.
Why are there still firsts? Because opportunity has not been given to those who don’t fit the mold. You've probably heard of the Masters, right? You know, that tournament Tiger Woods won four times! Augusta National, where the Masters has been held since 1939, just allowed female membership in 2012! This example of slow progression is what gives the perception that all golf courses do not welcome women or people of color. Hence, we are still experiencing firsts.
How do we resolve this issue? Great question! Training is the first step. Golf course owners, operators, and staff must learn to create an environment that welcomes people of diverse backgrounds. This takes a little bit more than a friendly hello at the door or on the phone. It requires empathy and willingness to understand how to best connect with people not like them. It would also be helpful to have a diverse team (meaning more than a couple of minorities) to create this environment.
If the “firsts” dilemma resonates with you, then you get why this narrative needs to change. Consider CARE (Customer Awareness, Retention, and Engagement) Training to learn how to attract and retain diverse customers. The training program will not only positively affect your team and bottom line, but your community as well!