Beyond the Green

Sandy Cross, Geno Auriemma, Kathy Hannan and Nancy Henderson pose for a photo Tuesday at Valhalla Golf Club.

Auriemma offers advice on how to grow game for women at "Beyond the Green" event

By Bob Denney, PGA of America

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma loves the game of golf. He’s played it for 30 years, has posted one hole-in-one and owns a 7 handicap. The game, he said, also has a parallel to his Hall of Fame coaching methodology.

“I ask that my players not focus on the score, but on the game itself,” Auriemma said Tuesday at Valhalla Golf Club.  “If you do your job, you will look up and find that you have won. Years from now, you won’t be thinking about a score or a round you played. You will be thinking about the moments. Golf is full of memories.”

The architect of nine NCAA Women’s Division I Championship teams and 879 career victories, Auriemma joined an executive panel discussion, titled “Words to Lead By,” while addressing  60 business women from the Louisville area. Together they explored “Beyond the Green," a unique professional development experience in conjunction with the 96th PGA Championship. The event incorporated panels of national sports and business leaders, networking and an inside-the-ropes tour of the grounds.

“I enjoy being among groups like this, “ said Auriemma, who has been a popular motivational speaker for many years at similar business and leadership conferences. “It is a chance to meet great people. I learn as much as I can. There is a true interest level for more women to get into golf, but it comes down to time and having others to join them to play. There is no question that golf is an invaluable experience for anyone in business, and how great it is that you can learn more about someone while playing a round of golf with them.”

Auriemma was joined in the opening panel discussion by Jodi Allen, vice president of North American Marketing, Procter & Gamble; and Stacy Reichert, senior vice president of Strategy & Business Development, PepsiCo Foodservice.

“I’m a firm believer in working outside my comfort zone,” said Allen, who outlined her 27-year career with Procter & Gamble and the challenges of also being a mother of four children. “When things go wrong I take the responsibility and when things go right, I let my team know it is fantastic.”

Reichert expanded upon the responsibility of leadership: “It’s one thing to set an aspirational goal. It’s another to face the reality of what it takes to get there.”

Moderators featured Kathy Hannan, National Managing Partner and Global Lead Partner, KPMG; Sandy Cross, PGA of America senior director of Diversity and Inclusion; and Kelly Tilghman, Golf Channel anchor/reporter/host.

“We had a tremendous day,” Cross said. “It exceeded expectations from my perspective. We had a tremendous talented lineup; we had a great showing of executive and professional women from the Louisville community. We imparted some excellent professional development content.

“There were personal nuggets that can help the women in attendance advance themselves personally and professionally. A clear takeaway from the event is that we emphasized the idea of invitation.”

Cross said that all attendees were encouraged to invite another woman to join them the next time they play golf.

“That’s how we are going to grow the game," Cross said. "If we don’t invite others to join us, the game is not going to grow. You don’t go to the golf course by yourself the first time. We also offered PGA and LPGA Professionals to offer the Get Golf Ready program at their businesses.”