Alison Sausaman had never attended the Executive Women’s Day at The Players before Monday.
Sausaman, an attorney with Marks Gray law firm, said she’s made business contacts before major sporting events such as Jacksonville Jaguars games. But she’s wanted to go to this event held the week of The Players golf tournament in hopes of broadening her network.
“I want insight from powerful women,” Sausaman said before a luncheon at the observation suite overlooking the 18th hole of the Stadium Course.
She was sitting next to Laura Collins, development director of Wolfson Children’s Hospital, who was equally keen on making contacts. Collins said her first experience a year ago was invaluable.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to meet a lot of other successful, smart and leading business women in Jacksonville,” Collins said.
The PGA Tour launched the Executive Women’s Day in 2011 as an annual program in which women can access potential for commerce connections through golf. This year, the PGA Tour is hosting similar events at 10 Tour events.
The event includes seminars and luncheons with discussions from top female business executives. Monday’s event featured keynote speaker Tami Reller, executive vice president of Optum health services company.
Also part of the day are tours of the tournament grounds and operations such as media accommodations, sponsorship amenities and management facilities.
Amber Fulton, director of community outreach for the PGA Tour, said Executive Women’s Day is designed to get women into the inner workings of the business climate that revolves around big-time golf tournaments. Fulton said the women they’re targeting don’t necessarily have to play golf. But they quickly realize the sport and hallmark events on the Tour can result in lucrative business contacts, if not deals.
“When we first started this, we saw that we were missing a huge demographic of women in our tournament markets,” Fulton said. “They didn’t feel welcome.
“We said, ‘Let’s take down the barriers.’ Let’s invite them out to a day that is tailored specifically to them. Let’s not really talk about a ton of golf. Let’s talk about leadership and what you need to be the best leader that you can be. It’s taken on a life of its own.”
About 200 First Coast business women attended Monday’s event.
Fulton acknowledged the PGA Tour uses the event partially as a format for increasing interest in professional golf. But ultimately, the day is about getting down to business.
“It is about using golf as a business tool. We’re not here to put a golf club in your hand. But we are here to teach you how to be a part of the conversation and to teach you what’s going on out on the course,” Fulton said.
Drew Dixon: (904) 359-4098.