365 days later — Interview: Laura Diaz from the LPGA — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Nov. 3, 2022
Happy Golf Thursday, y’all! If you can believe it, this is my 52nd post, officially marking a full year of being at The IX. It’s been a hell of a ride so far, and honestly it still blows my mind that every week you all choose to make me a part of your routine in some capacity.
A year ago, I nearly let impostor syndrome win. I couldn’t wrap my mind around being in the likes of real journalists. I almost allowed myself to believe that there was no way my words would compare to the remarkable talent of the other contributors. People who studied journalism. People who have a knack for analysis, and what it means to break down the news that literally alters the world around us. People who probably have a collection of those really cool media passes you get at events. There was just no way that I could hold a candle to them.
But then I talked to Howard Megdal, and he seemed to have all the faith in the world in me. (Editor’s note: I did, and still do!) And on our first phone call I could hear the excitement and passion radiating through his voice. I had no choice but to accept his offer.
At the very least, this weekly column would develop my writing skills.
But this journey has been so much more than ‘just writing’ — it’s been a cathartic process. This space is where I come to merge almost every facet of my life. Golf, psychology, culture, breaking news, and everything in between.
My favorite writers often write themselves into the stories they tell, I think the work means a little bit more if you attach a little piece of yourself to it. I try to do the same, not because I like to give my two-cents on everything, but because it’s a way to extend the conversation. I tell you how I feel, and just maybe you as a reader feel so compelled to reach out and explain how you feel.
I’ve been fortunate to receive a ton of messages and emails from you all. Some have brought me to tears, some have made me think deeper, and some have given me constructive criticism. No matter the message, I am appreciative of the thought that drives you to reach out!
This weekly column has enabled me to connect with people around our golf world, and without this space there’s no telling if our paths would have ever collided.
Last year, right before Thanksgiving, I interviewed Epson Tour player Hannah Gregg. Since then, Hannah and I have become best friends and we talk almost every other day in some capacity. Whether if it’s about our love of dogs or Harry Styles, we manage to find commonalities beyond golf. She is someone that I love cheering on and seeing her success this year has been incredible to witness.
In May of this year I chatted with Brooklyn based instructor Liz Breed, and it was an instant hit. She’s become someone that I look up to as an instructor, and I’m happy to announce that we will be Brooklyn neighbors, as I am moving to Big Apple next month!!
This year with The IX has taught me to take chances on myself because you could literally end up anywhere. In these last 365 days, my life has ebbed and flowed. I faced a lot of uncertainty in my career, with what I want to do and where I see myself. I juggled the idea of moving to other cities before landing on NYC. And the thought of walking away from golf (again) entered my mind.
But the constant that remained was Golf Thursday. I knew that every week I needed to provide a product good enough for you all and that kept me sane.
This is one of my favorite things to do, and I can’t wait to show y’all what we can do in year two.
This week in women’s golf
If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!
This week’s event is the TOTO Japan Classic , here’s how you can follow along and five key things you MUST know before tuning in!!!!
Atthaya Thitikul has reached No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings…also click to see the full breakdown of who has been crowned world No.1 and for how long
“I play golf because I want to take care of my family,”…more on Atthaya and how she appraoches the game (newsflash, she’s as humble as they come)
The USGA announced that Chicago Golf Club, in Wheaton, Ill., will be the host site for the 2033 U.S. Women’s Open
Hinako Shibuno’s homecoming at the TOTO Japan Classic
In some more unexpected new…Lydia Ko, instructor Sean Foley part ways after successful two-year run… after such a successful season, is this the right move for Ko?
This former PGA Tour winner-turned-instructor is making quite an impact on the women’s game
QBE Shootout field features 2 LPGA players, 10 of the world’s top 50, 11 newcomers and no Greg Norman
With two events remaining, top players vie for entry into LPGA’s tour championship
Carlota Ciganda will have the opportunity to defend her title at the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España 2022 – the final tournament of the current LET season
Dutch golfer Lauren Holmey has had quite the season on the LET Access Series from winning in Switzerland as an amateur to turning professional and clinching her place on the LET for next season
ARAMCO UPDATE: The Aramco Team Series returns to Jeddah in November and two of the world’s best players have confirmed they will be teeing it up at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City on 10-12 November.
Rose Zhang is unstoppable.
As college golf recruiting evolves, camps take on added value – even for elites
OPINION: A hidden inequality in golf…do you agree?
Dale McNamara, legendary women’s college golf coach who helped build the program at Tulsa, dies at 86
Just 52 days until Christmas…your golfer’s holiday gift guide is here
Why is Augusta National under investigation by the feds? A lawyer explains
Five at The IX: Interview with Laura Diaz, Senior Director of Community and Inclusion at the LPGA
This week I had the please of talking to Laura Diaz. Laura has a long history with golf and has been a part of organizations like The First Tee and PGA Tour Latin America.
She is the Senior Director of Community and Inclusion for the LPGA Foundation.
We talk about her role at the LPGA, the intricacies of the organization, players, and more…enjoy!
What is your official role at the LPGA?
In 2019, I started as ‘Director of Operations’ for the LPGA foundation in 2019.
The foundation oversees three main buckets: LPGA/USGA Girls Golf, our flagship junior golf program, our LPGA leadership academies, which are two day events focused on teaching character and building confidence, helping girls how to find their voice and how to set goals through the game of golf, and then our grants and our scholarships, financial aid opportunities.
In 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, like many organizations you know, we started exploring new opportunities for our organization. Given that the LPGA always sort of fell in the crotch that we are diverse, because we offer opportunities for women, that’s what we’ve done for 70 years, and we were founded by women.
We’ve been there for that gender equity cause, but we really hadn’t move the needle on the racial or ethnic side. So we put our heads together started a task force. I work closely with Roberta Bowman, our Chief Brand & Marketing Officer, putting together a strategy, putting together some goals and some pillars behind what the work was looking like.
So, I her and I were co-chairs for a good while. I’d like to say that I was really doing it on a volunteer basis, because I was also doing my full time job within the foundation. And then that evolves into my current role right now as Senior Director of Community and Inclusion, which really is all about driving our DEI strategy that has been set forth by our leadership and our board. And it’s really to create deeper connections with our tournaments and the communities we serve
What is the best part of your job
I feel like I’ve always been a connector as a person. So, you know, I see myself as that person that’s going to be bridging the gap, not just between the LPGA and the communities that we serve in our tournaments and the foundation, our partners, our sponsors, you know, our tournament operators.
I think oftentimes the LPGA gets forgotten about, and it doesn’t have that hardcore fandom that other sports may have, right? So just trying to invite people, you know, and say, hey, the LPGA could be for you. You could come out to our event like any sporting event, enjoy it with your family, enjoy the outdoors, and have a good time.
So really trying to be that person that connects it [The LPGA] with people and communities. It’s not about just the marginalized, right? Because we know there’s high net worth individuals that have spending power in the Hispanic community, Asian community and African America community that just haven’t ever thought about going to the play golf or to come to an event, because they just haven’t been invited or they just don’t know where to go, or who to go to. So if I can be that person then that I’m up for the challenge.
Also, the people that are at the LPGA are just kind of really fun people to be around! The culture in itself is, I would say is one of the best parts of working at the LPGA. And the fact that we’re a global organization.
What is something you wish more golf fans knew about the LPGA as an organization not just as a tour?
I mean, I think that the charitable arm is definitely something to point out. It’s kind of like that “more than just our tour” concept with our foundation size and our movement to get more young women, girls and women in general to be part of the LPGA.
And there really is something for everybody at the LPGA, which is kind of incredible. So you have the, the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf, right, and you can be part of that program when you’re younger. Which seven to 10 is really that bread and butter age. But then when you transition into a teenage years, you can apply to our leadership academy. Or you can become a leader where you can volunteer at a Girls Golf site, or, you know, you can help out at your school with maybe a team. And then that recreational arm, which is the LPGA Amateur Association, which was the former Executive Women Golf Association that we acquired, I believe it was in 2018. So there is a recreational side, if you graduate high school and you still want to play golf, hey, we have the LPGA amateurs. And then if you want to turn professional, you know, we have a system through the Epson Tour and the LPGA Tour.
We are also global! There’s like LPGA branded [official apparel] in Korea, and it’s super successful, and it’s a source of revenue for us. I think it’s something that not many people know about it. And then you know, we we’ve been in a joint venture with the Ladies European Tour for a little over three years now. And so we have an office in London as well. So, you know, trying to be overarching serving all women’s golf.
In your opinion, what has been the best moment from the 2022 season?
I was at the Chevron Championship, the last one at Mission Hills, which was super special. It was my first time in that at that golf course. So I’m glad I got to be there to see you know, Jennifer Kupcho.
When I was at the Founders Cup to see Minjee Lee.
I was at the US Women’s Open, which was great with the purse announcement.
But I really, I think if I were to narrow it down to like, the best moments of the season, I think, is probably knowing like, Jodi [ Ewart] Shadoff won for the first time after like, what, 246 stars for 10 years. I mean, those kinds of moments are just like, wow, the stories of our athletes are amazing.
I’m bummed that I can’t go the Rolex Awards. That’s a super special night where we get to hear a lot of stories in the speeches from the players themselves. But that’s, that would have been a highlight for sure.
Favorite player/players on tour? Can be former or current!
I love Lauren Ochoa. She might be just a couple years older than me, I grew up seeing her rise and you know, just love to see her as a player. She left the game early because she was kind of like, ‘I’m done and I want to do I want to do my thing’. And I’ve always admired her for that, like people that just do things on their own time. I’m always kind of like, oh, it’s pretty badass.
Se-Ri Pak, I’ve always loved her, seeing the rise of Korean golf with her and all these different highlights that you get to watch now on YouTube. Sometimes you watch them on YouTube and you’re like ‘oh, I remember seeing that, I remember watching that’.
These days, I love Mo Martin, she’s such a cool person. You know, I’ve had a couple of interactions with her she supported our Clearview Legacy Benefit, which is a fundraiser we do for Renee Powell. She played both years and she’s just awesome. You know, she’s there, she’s always present.
Michelle Wie who’s not playing as much, but is just very genuine and authentic. And, and I appreciate that with her. I’ve done it’s only done a small amount of work with her, but it’s just super cool. Always very present.
Mariah Stackhouse. You know, have to mention her because she’s about the work, she knows the weight that she carries and, and I think she keeps her head high and really works on inspiring the younger generation to look up to her.
I could go on, you know. I really have not had a bad experience with any of our LPGA Tour athletes because they’re all amazing.
What are you looking forward to as we close out the season and look ahead to 2023?
I was really looking forward to Rolex, just because it’s always so genuine and I’ve always been so impressed that the Asian players who might come in, you know, earlier that year not knowing English, and then they can deliver a speech in English by the end of the year, which to me is probably one of the most impressive moments to witness. They are amazing.
I’m looking forward to the rookies coming out next year, you know, in Gabby Then, Lucy Li, we’ve known her since she was 12 and now she’s gonna have her LPGA Tour card. So how cool is that?
Seeing the women play at Pebble Beach is going to be some something that I’m looking forward to next year with the US Women’s Open.
We’re also seeing former players come back and host you know, we didn’t have any players hosting events. And now we have Annika who host Pelican next year, we have Michelle Wie, who will hosting Mizuho. So it’s going to be a lot of fun.
And it will be Solheim Cup year and I’m really looking forward to that!
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