William Blair Hosts Women on Course: Reinventing Your Game

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

From left, Jamie Fischer, LPGA golf professional, Jane Geddes, former LPGA touring professional, and Laura Linger, managing director with William Blair Private Wealth
From left, Jamie Fischer, LPGA golf professional, Jane Geddes, former LPGA touring professional, and Laura Linger, managing director and wealth advisor with William Blair Private Wealth at William Blair's Women on Course golf event.

Former LPGA touring professional Jane Geddes headlined William Blair’s Women on Course annual golf event on June 21, sharing stories with humor and passion of how she reinvented her career, from professional golfer to an executive with several sports organizations including World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

Geddes, who never swung a golf club until she was 17, won the Women’s U.S. Open at the age of 26 defeating many of the women who had played more years as juniors and amateurs than Geddes played in total. She went on to win 14 tournaments during her 20 years with the LPGA. After retiring from golf, Geddes earned her law degree, became a business executive and is now raising 12-year-old twins.

“I’ve lived my life in reverse—but that’s ok because we all live our lives in different ways—and it’s been amazing,” Geddes told the crowd. 

The secret sauce is being able to adapt and finding the confidence to take risks, she says.

Women on Course 8th Year

Now in its 8th year, William Blair partnered with LPGA golf instructor Jamie Fischer to host the golf outing at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Illinois. This year’s theme, “Reinventing Your Game—Golf and Life,” was an opportunity for women executives and LPGA veterans to network, share career and life stories, and work on their golf skills.

“The past year has given us an opportunity to look at our lives and re-evaluate,” says Geddes, encouraging the audience to be confident and take risks.

Geddes lives that advice. She grew up in Long Island, New York, and moved to Summerville, South Carolina, as a teenager when her dad was transferred for work. Geddes says she was completely out of her element in Summerville until her mother suggested trying golf—an idea she proposed after reading about an up-and-coming golf amateur Beth Daniel, coached by pro Derek Hardy who lived nearby.

Geddes—who played sports in New York but not golf—was hooked after one lesson with Hardy. The challenge and the idea of “competing against myself worked for me.”

“That was my first invention that I never, never thought would ever be part of my life.”

From there, Geddes had many more reinventions. Playing golf for Florida State as a walk-on, with the team winning the national championship in her junior year. She turned pro immediately afterwards. Following 20 years on the LGPA tour, Geddes retired from golf. In her 40s, she went to law school. Then entered the business world after earning her law degree. Today she is CEO of the LPGA’s Legends Tour.

Building Confidence, Taking Risks          

One of the biggest career risks she took was taking a position with WWE as the head of talent relations, the first woman and first non-wrestler to hold that role in the history of the company.

“The risk was tremendous—but what I was able to do based on trying to be confident was an amazing learning experience,” Geddes says. “I say that because I think there are many of us here that take twists and turns in our careers many times, and it’s hard to make decisions, especially as women.”

Women are more likely to second-guess themselves and qualify their accomplishments rather than taking bold moves which men are more likely to do, and “that’s unfortunate,” says Geddes.

“For me, the way I rationalize being ok with working at WWE and doing crazy stuff is—I already won the U.S. Open. Everything else is like my cherry on top,” she adds. “Everybody should have a U.S. Open moment that makes them standup and say I’m good … because we all have one.

“Let’s think about what our U.S. Opens are and our opportunities beyond that and continue to grow on that.”

Conversations on Adapting to Life’s Twists and Turns

The event also included a discussion on the 2021 economic recovery introduced by William Blair global economic strategist Olga Bitel. A conversation on reinventing your career followed, featuring a panel of women executives: Deb DeHaas, a former managing partner at Deloitte; Erin Murray Butler, head of William Blair real estate management; and Kelly Oliven, a William Blair senior wealth planner. Diane Offereins, an executive vice president with Discover Financial Services, moderated the talk.

Attendees later enjoyed nine holes of golf or a golfing clinic at the practice range with former LPGA players as their instructors.

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