Golf always has been known as the top sport for mixing business and pleasure, but considering that one of the most prestigious golf clubs didn’t allow women to play on its grounds until last year, we don’t always equate women with this sport. But that needs to change.

If for no other reason than because very few sports come close to attaining the power golf has in building business relationships. (Partly because golf – unlike other sports – allows players ample time to talk shop between swings.) An estimated 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf, and according to Barrons,  one quarter of the 25 million golfers in the U.S. are top management executives, and a full 80 percent of that number agreed that the game is an important business development tool.

Clearly, golf is a major career booster in many industries, so if you’ve never picked up a club, it’s time to get golf ready. Just look at these eight women who golf and are at the top of their fields as well as their game. (In most cases anyway!)

Successful Women Who Golf

Condoleezza Rice

In addition to being a concert pianist, the former secretary of state is an avid golfer. But even she didn’t take up the game until she was 50, which means it is never too late for you to start! Rice says she enjoys golf because it is a thinking-person’s game. “I find that I enjoy walking from shot to shot and deciding how I’m going to get out of this or that trouble. I just enjoy the strategy of it,” she told Golf Digest. “It’s taught me to be more patient, and it’s taught me to try to rein in my tendency to always go for it.” Rice also is one of two women who was permitted to play at the Augusta National Golf Club for the first time ever. 

Sandra Day O’Connor

The first woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court made her first hole-in-one of her golfing career with an ace on a 125-yard par-3 at her home course in Paradise Valley, Ariz., in 2000.

Vera Wang

Fashion mogul Wang (with an estimated net worth of $115 million) is an avid golfer who has played since she was 12. She even has her daughters playing golf, and she often compares reading greens to designing clothes.

Virginia Rometty

Rometty, the new CEO of IBM, found herself in the middle of a controversy this past spring when the Augusta National Golf Club realized they were in a major bind. The club’s national tournament always invited IBM CEOs, but with its all-male policy, this presented a bit of a conundrum. The club ended up changing its policy, and though Rometty ended up not playing (she prefers scuba diving), it was still a monumental moment. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said of Augusta’s decision, “At a time when women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf, this sends a positive and inclusive message for our sport.” It should be noted that Rometty wore a pink jacket to watch the game at Augusta, instead of the standard green one.

Sheila Johnson

The billionaire co-founder of the BET network and CEO of Salamander Hospitality, which owns the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla., has said she isn’t the best golfer but she is trying. “I can putt. I have a little putting place on my farm back in Virginia,” she told TampaBay.com. “I don’t have time to practice. I’m such a perfectionist. With my violin, I used to play four and five hours a day. It’s just my DNA. Unless I can do something well, I’m not going to sit here and say I can play golf. I know how to hold the club, I can putt, I can hit a ball. Every time they ask me to hit a ball in front of the camera I do it and I don’t look stupid. I’ve taken enough lessons that I make myself look good. One day, once things level out, I’m going to really get into it.”

Darla Moore

Along with Condoleezza Rice, Moore, a partner in the private investment firm Rainwater Inc., was the only other woman to be admitted membership to the Augusta National Golf Club in 2012. Though one look at her resume and one has to wonder how this busy South Carolina woman has any time to play the game. In addition to her responsibilities at Rainwater, in 2002 Moore founded the non-profit Palmetto Institute, a nonpartisan think-tank aimed at improving economic growth in South Carolina. She currently serves as chair of the organization. Moore also serves on the board of trustees of the NYU Langone Medical Center and the national board of directors of Teach for America. Did we mention she is the richest woman in banking? LINK

In accepting the invitation to be a member at Augusta, Moore told The Wall Street Journal it was a “very happy and important occasion” to be able to join her “many friends” who are already members of the organization.

Beverly Johnson

This former supermodel, who was the first African-American woman to appear on Vogue, says she loves to golf. ”I take my clubs to my hotel room. I clean them, line them up and talk to them,” she told NBC. ‘Nuf said.

Celine Dion

Her heart goes on for the game of golf. It helps when you actually have your own course, of course. She owns Le Mirage in Terrebone near Montreal and has a course at her home nearby. She once jumped into a pond with Karrie Webb at the 2000 Kraft Nabisco tournament.

Photo courtesy of ESPN