Latinas in all business can benefit by learning skills to last a lifetime.
Women’s Golf Day (WGD) is a global movement that engages, empowers, and supports women and girls through golf and teaches them skills that last a lifetime.
The one-day, four-hour event has taken place at more than 1,000 locations in nearly 80 countries since its inception in 2016, and has introduced thousands of new golfers to the sport. WGD is the fastest-growing female golf development initiative. The event takes place on the first Tuesday in June each year. We got a chance to sit down with the founder of WGD, Elisa Gaudet. We learned about her personal journey and what this movement means to her. Read on to learn more!
As a young person, what factors helped shape your career aspirations?
My Aunt was a big influence and role model for my career. She was not only a judge, but one of the youngest judges in United States history. Her work ethic and ability to achieve what she did as a woman at the time were impressive, and it was not easy. Apart from her, my family moved several times, exposing me to different people and giving me the ability to meet new people and adapt to change. This ended up being a very important theme and skill to have in life.
What was a key job or experience that shaped your career goals?
Working for the Tour de las Americas, a Latin American golf tour, gave me my start in the golf industry. I then met some people from the PGA TOUR when I was in Argentina for business during the 2000 Golf World Cup. Through that connection, I was hired to run the EMC World Cup in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I lived there for 14 months just to execute the event, which only lasted one week! I consider this my sports business MBA. I am forever grateful for both experiences as they helped me grow career-wise, and I learned so much about the sports industry and international business. Both jobs gave me the experience and knowledge needed to do what we are doing now with Women’s Golf Day on a global scale.
Did you have a mentor who guided you through your journey?
I have never had a formal mentor, but I feel it is a great resource if you can find one. I did have informal advisors, and still do, in addition to the board we have for the company. They have helped guide me, give me strategic advice, and connect me with others that can help take the company in a different or more expanded direction.
What was the motivation or inspiration behind establishing your business?
There was a need to create more opportunity for women, and all the research studies in the past 10 years indicated women were quick to try golf but equally quick to leave. The industry consists of 52 million golfers worldwide and 32 million in North America (USA & Canada). 87% of the golfers are male. Golf is a great sport and it also offers great opportunities for business and networking. Women wanted to be able to have access and partake in this as well. I took the data and, given that information, created an event that spoke to the pain points that women often felt—golf was too long, or it was unwelcoming, or it’s hard to break into and hard to find opportunities. We created the event and beta tested it in Boston. It was a success and we were off.
Where is your company located and why did you choose it?
We are located in West Palm Beach, FL, but a number of people who work for us are remote. We also have about 40 WGD Ambassadors around the world. Florida is great place to be when you are in the golf industry. There are over 1,500 golf courses in Florida, as well as all the PGA of America and PGA Tour.
What was your start-up plan and timeline?
There was none. Women’s Golf Day was started as a side passion project under my consulting firm Executive Golf International, and it grew organically and quickly, so now it is my full-time job.
What skills did you acquire in business that prepared you for success?
Adapting to change and understanding other people’s perspectives, since we are global. I also learned to listen to others and take their perspective into account, but also to go with my instincts, gut, and what I feel will be best for the business.
Finances are important to a business. Did you research and anticipate start-up costs?
No. I self-funded, not knowing what it would become or what would be needed down the road. I would perhaps do it differently if I were to start today. Thankfully it worked out, but I do think we could have scaled faster with financing.
Tell us about the factors and people who have influenced the growth of your business.
The early support and encouragement by very well-known people in the industry was pivotal. Not many people want to jump on or put their weight and endorsement behind a company when something is not a success yet. What’s most interesting is that while we are a female platform, there are so many men willing to help, as they have daughters, wives, coworkers, girlfriends, and moms who they want to get involved in golf.
Women’s Golf Day, Pinehurst Golf Resort, North Carolina
Although you didn’t start off with one, in retrospect, what would you say are the essential elements of a business plan?
A few things that are really important are a clear understanding of your business and market/competitive analysis. Perhaps the most important thing is to have the financials and know how much cash you need and the terms of repayment.
Any future plans for your business?
Yes, we are always scaling more locations, which means more women participating. During COVID-19, like so many others, we had to adapt, and we created an online event for men and women called WGD Palooza. WGD Palooza is a fun, informational, online event that anyone can participate in. It helped join our sponsors and partners with consumers and create content.
Balancing professional and personal lives is a continual challenge. How are you handling the work-life balance?
This is tough for everyone, but I do feel it’s more challenging for women, given their traditional gender roles. There is a lot of guilt that we are neglecting some aspects of our lives, and we have to live with the idea we can do it all. No one can do it all. I have become more comfortable with the idea that during some days or periods of time, work will be more dominant and consume more of my time, and sometimes personal things will be a priority. It is in flux constantly.
What are the best rewards you have received from owning a business?
The ability to create something bigger than myself that will have impact on lives, now and long after I am gone. The ability to shape the life I want to live, make a contribution to society, and live and work with different people and cultures.
If could turn back the clock on starting a business, what would you have done differently?
I believe I would have taken finance or sought out a partner that knows the business to be a financial partner.
Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
- In golf, as in life, it is the follow through that makes the difference.
- “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” — Nelson Mandela
Enjoy this story? Learn more about Elisa’s work at www.womensgolfday.com & www.execgolfintl.com.