Why Not?

Donna Orender, the former WNBA president, used that theme of “Why Not?!” to kick off the second annual Southern California Women’s Golf Summit hosted by the SCGA and SCPGA on Thursday, May 9. Her keynote speech was on point to a group of women who are breaking the collective glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry.

Orender, who was a 17-year senior executive of the PGA TOUR before moving on to the WNBA, inspired the 100 women and men attendees with engaging stories of how she’s tried to help include, invite, engage, and lift women, think outside the box, promote creativity and be a leader in the non-profit sector and professional sports worlds.

Why not ask for a raise? Why not play golf with the men? Why not push for that seat at the table?

“Asking why not can be very liberating,” Orender said. “Everywhere you go, put that in your head. ‘I can’t hit the ball 200 yards.’ Really? Why not?”

U.S. Open champion Sandra Palmer and USC golfer Alyaa Abdulghany were among those who attended the event at Arroyo Trabuco GC as well as about 10 vendors on hand to offer products, advice and information including Nike, ForeFitness, Spitfire Petite, Lululemon, Liquid IV, San Soleil and more. It was a collection of heavy hitters in the golf industry.

Orender, who is the CEO of Orender Unlimited, gave all attendees copies of her book, “WOWsdom! The Girl’s Guide to the Positive and Possible.”

During her speech she showed off a ShoeTips product that read “Breathe. Focus.” Those golf tips – some of which can also be used in life – clip on to the top of the golf shoe, one on each shoe. The 18 tips are meant to help the mental game, said Santa Monica resident Ellen Rudolph, who does marketing for the company. She finds women are usually more receptive to wearing the swing tips.

Orender said the five keys to owning a why-not mindset are: Have the courage to ask, stay in it, do not quit, perfection is the enemy of go, be open to the positive and possible and connection.

Those tips, especially the notion that we don’t have to be perfected, resonated with those in attendance.

Attendee Mabel Maeda, 91, came to the event from Hawaii. The Honolulu resident was in Southern California visiting her children and grandchildren, who are golfers.

She loved the camaraderie and was thrilled her daughter, Joan Karlzen, included her in the day.

“I don’t golf, but my children and grandchildren do and my husband used to,” Maeda said. “This event, I just admire everything. I didn’t expect this. It’s been very nice.”

She won a bottle of wine from Wilson Creek Winery for being one of the attendees who lived the farthest, in addition to women from Colorado and Florida, too.

There were meaningful sessions in the afternoon from “where we play” and “who we play with” to “golf tips for the mental game,” the “#inviteher initiative drives change” and more.

Azucena Maldonado, who founded of the Latina Golfers Association in 2008, was on the #inviteher panel and has figured out how to encourage women to embrace the game. She’s still working on adding to her group that now boasts 1,700 members more than a decade later.

“I know the reason we’re successful is because I approached it from an outsiders point of view. I was on the outside trying to get in,” Maldonado said. “… My space is the Latino community. I did my homework. I was at every Latina meeting, conference, passing out cards. It started with one person. One #inviteher at a time. They tell their friends and tell their friends, and we’ve grown organically.”

The day concluded with wine (which many panelists said is never a bad thing to pair with a golf event to bring women to the game) and a putting contest presented by Blast Motion.

The laughs, meaningful anecdotes and education left attendees feeling a sense of camaraderie, empowerment and the feeling of:

Why not?!

By Jill Painter-Lopez
Originally published on scga.org

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