By Lily Marguy
Since Fall 2022, the Institute for Women’s Leadership has partnered with Nichols College Men’s and Women’s Golf Head Coach Tim Howard to introduce a program that helps women gain confidence and experience while helping prepare themselves for entering the workforce: Drive Confidence Golf Clinic. For 5 weeks in the Fall and Spring, eighteen girls venture to the Dudley Hill Golf Club to learn the basics of playing golf and golf etiquette. IWL members Keeley Cerbo ‘24, Gianna Bouchard ‘26, and Sabrina Morgan ‘26 shared their experiences with the Drive Confidence Clinic.
1. Where did you hear about Drive Confidence?
- Keeley Cerbo: I was the office assistant for the IWL when the Drive Confidence program first started and heard about the program during one of my shifts. I was the one who drafted up a flyer for the program!
- Gianna Bouchard: I heard about Drive for Confidence from the Nichols IWL Instagram story and post and decided to contact Leslee (IWL Director) about it.
- Sabrina Morgan: I heard about Drive Confidence through Leslee while doing homework in IWL.
2. Describe what Drive Confidence is to someone who doesn’t know what it is.
- Keeley Cerbo: Drive Confidence is a program where women can learn about golf etiquette and the basics of golf when out on the course while also improving on their game. It does not matter if you are a beginner or not, the Drive Confidence program helps all women. This program gives women the confidence to go out on to the golf course and to not feel intimidated by the men, whether it is at a work event on the course or during a normal game of golf.
- Gianna Bouchard: Drive for Confidence is an educational golf clinic for women who are looking to either learn the game of golf as a beginner or improve their golf as someone who is well versed in the game. It provides a safe and fun environment that encourages uplifting and supporting everyone’s progress.
- Sabrina Morgan: Drive confidence is an awesome group of women all learning how to be bosses in the business world while having fun and staying true to our authentic selves!
3. What made you choose to participate in Drive Confidence?
- Keeley Cerbo: I have always had an interest in golf. I was on the women’s team at my High School during my Senior year but did not get much from that experience. The coach would take the boys out on the course each day while the girls were left practicing how to chip and putt. I never made it out on the course because of this. After hearing about the Drive Confidence program, I felt like this would be a great opportunity to not only work on my game, but to also improve my confidence while out on the course. I have been a part of the program since the first one started my junior year.
- Gianna Bouchard: I knew there was a lot that went into golf, but I never had the courage to show up to the green and try to learn by myself, so I was excited by the opportunity to increase my confidence. Golf is closely correlated with business so I thought it would be a good opportunity to diversify my skill set, even for the sake of a conversation.
- Sabrina Morgan: I participated in drive confidence because I realized golf courses are where all the important talk happens and if you cannot play golf then how are you going to participate in the important conversations?
4. How was your experience with Drive Confidence?
- Keeley Cerbo: I loved the Drive Confidence program. This program not only taught me how to improve my golfing skills, but it also taught me the etiquette required when out on the course. I was also able to become more confident when driving the golf ball and when chipping or putting it into the hole. Before this program, I found it embarrassing to go out onto the course because I was not as experienced and always feared messing up in front of others. Now, I feel like I know what I am doing and have much more confidence.
- Gianna Bouchard: I had a wonderful time participating in the Drive for Confidence. Our instructor was great, and I quickly went from never having touched a club to driving the ball across the green. This is in part due to the supportive and uplifting environment that was created. Everyone present was supportive of each other and it was something I looked forward to attending every week.
- Sabrina Morgan: My experience was awesome, and Tim made it really fun and interesting
5. Why do you think it’s important for women to learn how to play golf?
- Keeley Cerbo: It is important for women to learn golf because there may come a time when they need to know what they are doing, especially when working in the business world. There may come a time when they need to complete business on the course. By having some background and knowledge in golf, they will feel more comfortable around their coworkers when on the course and will have the confidence to be out there with everyone else when closing a deal.
- Gianna Bouchard: Golf is one of those things that will forever be correlated with business. It is a great way to network and get to know some new people and work as something to add to conversations. Knowing the game of golf is beneficial to everyone.
- Sabrina Morgan: It is important for women to learn how to play golf because it opens doors to conversations you would probably never have the opportunity of having if not out on the course where the men let their guards down. Plus, it is actually a really great sport that teaches you discipline and patience and really commands strategy and attention to detail. It also helps you to gauge your own strengths.
We can see how important the members believe learning golf can help you improve your professional career. Men’s and Women’s Head Coach Tim Howard shares his experience with the Drive Confidence Clinic and its beginning.
1. How did you become involved with the Drive Confidence?
- Two years ago, I was speaking with our athletic director Jack Hayes and the head of the IWL at the time, and we were talking about how important it is for women in particular to feel confident in themselves in the workplace. We discussed how important it is for women to understand the game of golf, because often many business deals or opportunities arise on the golf course. So, putting this 5-week class together to show the importance of golf and how it relates to business was the basis behind this course.
2. How do you run your sessions of the Drive Confidence?
- I typically spend the first two weeks going over the rules, etiquette, the relationship between golf and making business connections. I make it clear to them all that women are sometimes at a disadvantage, because they either do not know how to play the game of golf, or sadly not invited to participate in work events. Once I feel that I went over the basics of etiquette, safety, rules, etc., we all head to the course in which we play a couple holes. We also learn how to hit off of the tee, putt, and hit iron shots. Throughout our program we become familiar with typical golf language, just so everyone knows what it means when someone says a certain phrase.
3. What’s your favorite thing about the Drive Confidence?
- I really love seeing the enthusiasm of the ladies when they get on the course. I love seeing improvement throughout the five-week course. My favorite part, however, is after the course is finished hearing back from some of the ladies inquiring about how they can join the team here on campus, or where they can purchase clubs, etc. I like that because it shows me that they truly do enjoy the sport of golf and want to continue to pursue the game.
4. Do you think it’s important for women who want to enter the business world to learn golf? If so, why?
- Absolutely! As I mentioned, a lot of business occurs at the golf course. In order for women to excel in the business world, learning the sport of golf is a very important piece to reaching the highest of potential. You never know when a potential client, work partner, or boss is going to ask who can golf, and I feel if more women can raise their hands and say they golf, numerous opportunities will open up for them.
Leslee Ruggeri, Director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership reflects on Drive Confidence as this spring will mark its 4th official season. “The Drive Confidence Women’s Golf Clinic has impacted over 50+ women in the campus community. Golf, frequently used for business meetings and negotiations, offers opportunities to highlight one’s skills, build rapport, and discuss matters outside the formal office environment. Drive Confidence has taught our women students not only how to play golf and improve their skills but has also fostered confidence and empowerment within participants. The clinic goes beyond the sport itself, allowing women to enhance self-assurance and leadership qualities but also contributes to success and visibility when they enter the corporate world.” Women on campus who hope to join the Drive Confidence Clinic can expect to hear more information early in March. The spring session will begin on April 2nd. For more information, contact Leslee Ruggeri.