In light of all the attention surrounding Augusta National’s decision to admit women into its golf club, we talked to a female golfer to get her take. When FOX Business Network anchor Sandra Smith is not reporting live from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange or doing hits in New York on the stock market swings, she is on the green. Below she talks about how she fell in love with the sport, whether she’s ever felt unwelcome at any of the courses she’s played and about the similarities in what it takes to be successful in business and golf.
What was your opinion of Augusta National not admitting women?
From a business standpoint, just as women have the right to organize a private club, so do men, so in that sense it infringed on the rights of a private club to force them to invite a woman. However, I am thrilled to see the club has now invited two successful and accomplished women to join on their own merits. Cheers to them! It is a door-opener for women, not just here, but in a more broad sense. This sets a standard for some of the oldest golfing institutions.
Would you join Augusta if invited or would you not jump at the chance just because they changed their policies?
I would absolutely accept! 110 percent. This is one of golf’s most iconic clubs and I would not turn down that chance of a lifetime.
Have you ever felt resistance on the green because you were a woman?
No. If anything, I have met so many wonderful people, men included, on golf courses. When I first started playing, I was fearful of the stereotype that men would roll their eyes as a woman approached the tee because there are so few woman golfers, but I have found that golfers in general are cordial, respectful and out there to enjoy themselves. Attitude is everything on the golf course. As long as you are positive, informed and respectful of the game, you can play with anyone, and everyone will enjoy playing with you.
When did you start playing golf? Why? What is so appealing about it that has led you to continue to play?
I learned the rules and etiquette of golf before I learned to play the game itself. I was a caddy at Chicago Golf, the oldest 18-hole golf course in North America, for a summer when I was about 14. I got the itch to learn to play the game about four years ago when I was asked several times to play in a business environment. Once I learned, I realized there are so many wonderful reasons to play.
I love being outdoors and exploring different courses all over the country. It really gives you a sense of the natural environment in which you are playing. I have seen amazing coastlines, birds, trees, animals, flowers and other wildlife as I play. But at the end of the day, I am a very competitive person, and golf, I have found, is a game that will challenge me the rest of my life.
One of my favorite reasons for playing golf is participating in a multi-decade Smith family tradition that takes place every Thanksgiving morning: The Smith Family Turkey Trot. All the golfers in my family bundle up, pack hot beverages and play a scramble while the turkeys are in the oven. We play rain, snow (it's happened) or shine and have a plaque that boasts the winners’ names from each year.
What are some of the most noteworthy courses you’ve played?
My favorite course is Cantigny, it's about 20 miles west of Chicago, near where I grew up. It's manicured to perfection with rolling fairways and plush greens. It's a real treat. Other favorites: Kingsmill on The James in Virginia; The Champion at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens; Little Traverse Bay and Birchwood in Harbor Springs, Michigan; Tiburon in Naples, Florida. One of my other favorite courses, which I haven't even played yet, is Bethpage Black, where we watched the US Open in the rain in 2009.
Why is golf the go-to sport for business and networking?
You learn so much about a person playing golf. Heck, I learn a lot about myself playing the game. Patience and endurance is key. But it is also a game of skill and strategy and the way you handle yourself over 18 holes says a lot about how one may handle similar challenges in business.
Business and golf are two worlds where women have been the minority. Have you experienced any similarities or differences since you’re a business anchor and a golfer?
Just like business journalism, with golf, you can't fake it. Male or female. You've got to do your homework and know your stuff, and you're never done learning.
If you could golf with anyone, who would it be?
I’ve read that House Speaker John Boehner is an amazing golfer, so I think it would be great to get to golf with him.
Sandra Smith Bio
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