Let’s face it, golf is intimidating. Especially for women.
If you’ve never picked up a club, then you don’t want to whiff, you don’t want to fall over from being off balance and you definitely don’t want to risk being the laughingstock of the driving range or golf dome.
Anxiety is a huge barrier to entry in the game, especially among women. Men typically don’t have a problem going out with their buddies and trying something new. If they whiff a couple, they get in the cart and move on with a laugh. Women, on the whole, fear the embarrassment of failure far more than their male counterparts do.
That is why Abby Liebenthal, 29, formed Fore the Ladies in March 2019. A female-based community, Fore the Ladies was designed to introduce more women to the game, as well as bring women together to play golf.
“Most of my girlfriends did not play the game, and I really didn’t think much of it growing up. Eventually, my friends were saying they’d love to learn or at least try.” – Abby Liebenthal
Liebenthal felt that there was a void for young working women ages 20-45 who want to get into the game.
“I have always grown up playing golf whether it was leisurely (or competitively) and I played high school golf. But most of my girlfriends did not play the game, and I really didn’t think much of it growing up,” Liebenthal said. “Eventually, my friends were saying they’d love to learn or at least try.”
With a background in marketing and social media in the golf industry, Liebenthal launched her network with the goal of not just creating an online community, but real, tangible connections.
“I’m at this point in my life where I want to be able to give back to people and spread it around to people that I love and I admire, who expressed interest in learning the game,” she said.
With the help of friends and colleagues in the industry, Liebenthal hosted her first event at Newport (R.I.) Indoor Golf and 60 women showed up. (She will host another event there Saturday.)
After the initial event, Liebenthal took Fore the Ladies on the road, hosting two more events in 2019 in Jacksonville, Fla. and Chicago.
And the plan is for growth in 2020.
On Tuesday, in advance of the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, Liebenthal will host her fifth Fore the Ladies event at True Spec Golf in Scottsdale, Ariz. Fore the Ladies will also host events at Malbon Golf in Los Angeles on Feb. 12, at X Golf near Indianapolis on April 5 and at True Spec Golf near Boston on May 17. Liebenthal’s goal for 2020 is to stage eight events.
Each event costs $25, and that price includes an hour and a half of professional instruction, the use of clubs, drinks and tee gifts.
Phase Two of Fore the Ladies, the creation of regional communities for women, will be rolled out later this year.
“After the initial clinic, most women ask, ‘What now?’ ” Liebenthal said. “Now, we have dedicated Facebook groups to the regions I have brought Fore the Ladies to so they can connect and find more women-focused events in their areas. I am their resource to see what’s available to them.”
Liebenthal’s goal with Fore the Ladies is similar to what the LPGA is working to achieve with its LPGA Women’s Network and what KPMG and its partners are striving for with the KPMG Women’s PGA Golf Clinics. All are aiming to get more women involved and enjoying golf. But Liebenthal thinks her audience is a little different.
“I’m trying to get young professionals into the game,” Liebenthal said. “Music and drinks, and a fun atmosphere. Some women might just want to hit the ball once, and that’s enough for them. … It’s a little less serious.
“But before every clinic begins, I try to talk to them and say you have already taken the next step by showing up and (saying) I’m going to try this. For women who want to come or don’t know where to start, just give it a shot, you might not like it but you might love it. I’m not going to be the one to make that decision for you.
“But try it like you would anything else for the first time. No skill is going to be perfected the first time you try it. Give golf a shot just like any other fitness activity.”
Visit foretheladies.net for more information.
Abby Liebenthal is trying to get young professional women into the game. Photo: Courtesy of Abby Liebenthal
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