If women are going to swing deals in the business world, they'd best learn to swing clubs on the golf course. That's the theory behind the Executive Women's Golf League.
The league, founded by a golf marketing director whose business meetings were confined to conference rooms because she didn't know how to play golf, is teaching women how to play golf so they can network like a pro.
"The whole country is waking up to the fact that there are business-women wanting to play golf; what a novel idea," founder Nancy Oliver said. "Women are going crazy over this. When they hear you don't have to be a great golfer to participate they are very relieved, and if they're new to the game they feel like they're finally getting an invitation to come on in.
"We put the emphasis on fun, camaraderie and networking; how to play golf versus competition."
Nearly half of all new golfers are women, many of whom finally are linking business with the links. For years, men have used golf as a relaxing atmosphere to learn about associates and strengthen relationships.
Women want in on the round.
"I have been in the golf business for 15 years in golf marketing, but I never knew how to play," said Oliver, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens. "I can talk a good game, but that's about it. I decided I wanted to go ahead and learn, but with other women so I wouldn't feel quite so alone."
Turns out, Oliver wasn't the only one.
In less than two years, the Executive Women's Golf League has more than 2,000 members nationwide, with 35 operative chapters and 15 more in the works.
Teaching professionals at host clubs throughout the country conduct beginner and intermediate clinics, helping women learn their way around the course and the clubhouse.
"You have to have that stage where you progress from being a beginner to being on the course," Oliver said. "It takes a while to feel comfortable enough to go out with the big boys. This gives women that nice safe zone for transition, a chance to build their confidence and then actually go out and utilize this in a corporate golf setting."
The only snag is that Oliver still doesn't play much golf. She's too busy getting new chapters on their feet.
"This thing just took over my life," said Oliver, whose home has become the league's headquarters. "I'm kind of like the coach for new chapters. I get out the promotional material and organizational manual, help with the public relations and help feed people who call to the chapter closest to them.
"I spend about 90 hours a week on it. The thing just keeps growing, like an amoeba."
For information on the nearest chapter, call Oliver at (407) 694-2820.
Die-hard dribbler: The historical significance of the occasion is not lost on Carey Schueler, but she'll stick with basketball just the same.
Schueler, the daughter of Chicago White Sox general manager Ron Schueler, was the 1,208th pick, by Chicago, in the amateur baseball draft last week. She is believed to be the first woman picked in the draft.
"It's pretty cool to be drafted in baseball, but I'm definitely going to DePaul to play basketball (on scholarship)," Schueler, a resident of Moraga, Calif., told the Associated Press.
Schueler was the first girl to play baseball at Campolindo High School when she made the 1990 junior varsity team as a pitcher. She pitched in one game _ giving up six runs in two innings _ and hung up her baseball career in 1991.
Schueler's true sport, however, is basketball. An all-state guard for Campolindo, she averaged 23 points and led her team to a 32-3 record.
Flush rush: Renovations have begun on restrooms at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that should allow spectators _ especially women _ to spend more time watching football games and less time in lines.
An estimated $3.7-million in improvements at the Coliseum will increase restroom space for women by more than 300 percent. Restroom space for men also will increase, but by a lesser percentage. Seventy-two women's toilets will be replaced with 306 new ones. Renovations are scheduled to be completed Sept.