Photo by Thomas Winter
Depending on how you look at it, this story starts 125 years ago, when golf was first introduced at the College. Or 20-odd years ago, when Leslie Andrews ’82 first learned to play golf. Or perhaps it was just last year, when Andrews decided to come to reunion for the first time, and she wanted to hit the links.
She got the golf game—and more. Last fall, Andrews signed on as the new director of golf at the Nehoiden Golf Club. She wasn’t looking for a job. But when she heard about the vision for Nehoiden’s future from Nancy Coleman, associate provost and director of strategic growth initiatives, and Rob Haley, general manager at Nehoiden, she was hooked. “I said, ‘Sign me up, and when do we start?’” Andrews remembers.
Although the course has been owned and operated by the College for more than 100 years, it may be an overlooked—and underutilized—gem. “When I was a student at Wellesley, I did not know that the golf course was available to me,” Andrews says. “Alums are not necessarily aware that they can be members. We want to make sure that the community knows that.”
Of course, when Andrews was a student, she was busy playing three sports, none of which was golf. She didn’t learn to play until the summer after she got her M.B.A. from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Andrews then went on to forge a successful career in business, primarily at ESPN. There, she discovered that learning to play golf had garnered her more than just an enjoyable pastime; it opened doors for her career, as well. “There were not very many women at ESPN who played golf, so when there was an opportunity to play it with a client, very often I would be asked,” Andrews says. “It gave me an opportunity to have exposure to important clients that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
The lack of women available to play golf piqued Andrews’ curiosity. “I found it to be a really powerful business tool, and I always wondered why more women didn’t play,” she says. In that disconnect, she saw an opportunity to create a business of her own, so she embarked on a second career. As a golf pro, she is a certified Class A member of the LPGA, and she’s worked with numerous companies to create golf workshops to help recruit, retain, and promote women. In addition, she runs golf schools in Florida in the winter and runs trips to golfing destinations around the world. She even wrote a book: Even Par: How Golf Helps Women Gain the Upper Hand in Business.
Now she’s bringing that wealth of experience to the College, where she hopes to give Nehoiden the reputation it deserves, considering it was named one of the top 25 9-hole golf courses in the country in the 2018 book The Finest Nines. The course is now managed by Wellesley’s Strategic Growth Initiatives Group, which is developing nontraditional education and growth ventures for the College. Its long-term vision is to make Nehoiden a destination for women and golfers across the country and to link it more closely with the College. Andrews isn’t wasting any time getting started on that work. This summer, the club is launching a number of pilot programs, including monthly alumnae golf programs, a weeklong program called “Dynamic Leadership Through Golf” for high school girls, hosting private events.
“We’re trying a lot of new and different things,” Andrews says. “Some of it will work, and some of it won’t, and we’ll build from there.” Luckily, they are building on the solid foundation of a great golf course. “Good players really enjoy the challenge, and yet it is also accessible to beginners,” Andrews says. “And it’s beautiful. It’s really a spectacular little place.”