The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, September 3, 2020
Women's Golf Day — Interview with Megan LaMothe — Must-click links in women's golf
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Women’s Golf Day
September 1 was Women’s Golf Day, and women from all over the country came together to play golf and learn skills that last a lifetime. Although I am ashamed to say I did not participate in the festivities that day, I made up for it yesterday by playing 18 holes. And I’m going to make up for it again today by talking about the impact golf has had on my life, and areas that I want to see women’s golf improve.
I was thinking recently that I can’t believe I went basically 26 years of my life without golf in it — as a fan, as a participant, and an employee in the industry, for that matter! I have actually reached the stage of loving golf so much that I’m taking swings in my living room trying to sharpen up my game. Golf has done me a lot of good, starting with my summer, two-month internship at the LPGA back in 2016.
Some of my best memories from my time there was first and foremost the people. Mike Whan was the Commissioner and our intern class was able to spend a handful of time with him, hear his story and his vision leading the LPGA. We were treated so well by many of the ‘higher ups’ who could have just kept their hands down. I thankfully made some sort of an impression, because I was recruited to my current role at the PGA of America by someone I met and worked with during my LPGA internship.
Fast forward to now, over two and a half years with the PGA (three years officially in December), and I’ve attended an overseas Ryder Cup, three PGA Championships and two Women’s PGA Championships, along with countless other events in fun cities across the country. It’s pretty wild I get paid to travel and be on my phone or camera at all times, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities that have come my way all because of the game of golf.
It’s been a fun learning curve, too, trying to better understand the golf landscape and what golf fans want to see and listen to. And the many conversations I stumble upon on working in digital and social media have been a blast (for the most part) to pay attention to. Golf has connected me to wonderful conversations and wonderful people. I think that is why I am so passionate about women’s golf especially, and why I want to see it grow and gain popularity amongst sports fan across the globe.
I saw a tweet the other day highlighting golf joggers. Which, by the way, I’m a huge fan. I was so amused by the comments on this tweet saying how terrible they are. It’s pretty fascinating that something I personally would consider trendy and cool gets completely bashed. The best reply was saying how much of a disgrace joggers are to “the world of gentlemanly golf attire.” Maybe he was joking. But what!?
My point in all of this is that sometimes I just wish golf fans would lighten up. Or maybe a better way to put it is to not take golf so seriously. What is there to lose if we let everyone just make the game into their own game? What is there to lose if we were all more open to different dress codes, personalities and ways of playing the game?
Call me crazy—but it’s pretty hard to “disgrace” the game of golf through change. There is nothing wrong with tradition. But at some point the industry needs to ride the wave of change and acceptance of every golfer, not just traditional golfers, because that is the society we live in. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results. Golf doesn’t grow without change. It’s possible to honor tradition while also evolving into something more.
I know women’s golf has evolved, particularly over the past few years. We saw what happened at the AIG Women’s Open and the conversations that followed. You probably heard that many people were chirping about how awful and embarrassing it is that Sophia Popov (featured here at The IX last week) does not get a five-year exemption on the LPGA because she won the major as a non-LPGA member. She can’t play in this year’s ANA Inspiration, either. It’s just a one-year exemption, with a five year exemption into majors.
As frustrating as that is, here’s why it’s great for women’s golf. It’s great because SO MANY people were talking about it, and a lot of media picked up the story. Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood were two players who spoke up about the dilemma. I wouldn’t consider this negative buzz. I would consider it a passionate conversation about wanting the absolute best for Popov’s career after an incredible finish at Troon. Everyone was rooting for her. And that’s something I don’t think three years ago would have even gotten much coverage to begin with.
If you missed Mike Whan’s response, I encourage you to check it out below. His leadership shined bright—and made me personally see a side to the argument I hadn’t really considered beforehand. With increasing popularity, comes more responsibility. And Mike Whan is the man that we want and need to continue the upward trend in women’s golf for years to come.
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This Week in Women’s Golf
Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
Five of the best LPGA performances in the last decade. (via Golf.com)
Six junior golfers will be competing for a spot in the LPGA’s Volunteer of America Classic. (via Dallas Morning News)
Austin Ernst rallies to win the NW Arkansas Championship last weekend. (via LPGA.com)
Mike Whan defends Women’s Open Championship limited exemption. (via Golf.com)
LPGA announces its 2020 national award winners, check out the lineup. (via LPGA.com)
If Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee was PGA Tour Commissioner, here’s the rule he would change. (via Golf.com)
Read about the week that changed Pernilla Lindberg’s life. (via LPGA.com)
Surprise major winner Sophia Popov facing an unexpected dilemma. (via Golf.com)
Jackie Stoelting recently returned from maternity leave and made a run for the title in Arkansas. (via Newsday)
Young star Yuka Saso is currently making bank in Japan this season. (via ESPN)
With baby in tow, former FSC standout making the most of her LPGA return. (via News Chief)
Golf stories you might have missed, including an amateur golfer tying a world record. (via Golf.com)
Golf’s new star Sophia Popov is living proof you should never give up on your dreams. (via WTVA News)
As sports leagues call out racial injustice, what is golf’s role? (via Golf Channel)
Rachel Rohanna balancing life on the farm, family and her pandemic game. (via Golf News Net)
Callaway golf launches REVA, a new women’s golf specific product line and platform. (via Golf.com)
Sophia Popov snub is as extraordinary as it is shameful for women’s golf. (via The Guardian)
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Foray Golf’s Megan LaMothe
When Megan LaMothe started Foray Golf, it was more personal than it was a business. There is a lot of meaning behind her vision as you’ll hear about below. After four years as Founder and CEO, she continues to crush it in the women’s golf apparel industry. And what better time to celebrate women doing big things in golf than the week of Women’s Golf Day?
I. How have you and your business held up during COVID? We’re doing okay, we’ve made it work. At first, things we’re kind of crazy and harrowing but then it got really good. One of the things we are really lucky—is that golf is actually thriving right now. It’s a little weird, but so many new people are picking up the game, and we’re really happy to be a part of it and see it grow. As bad as COVID is, it’s positive in a lot of ways.
II. You’re somewhat new to the game—how did you get into golf? It’s funny, I’ve actually played golf twice in the last month, and before that I hadn’t played since the beginning of April. It’s been so nuts and we’ve been really locked down. I forgot how much I love golf; I told myself ‘oh wow, yeah’ you actually love playing golf it’s not just making clothes.’ I only started playing golf about eight years ago with my now husband, but the concept was just finding something to do. I’m a fake it till you make it kind of girl. I got up and swung the golf club. I was a competitive tennis player and gave it up because I blew out my knee. My swing is super flat; literally just a tennis swing but lower. From there I fell in love with the game.
III. Talk a little more about how you found a career in golf? I had started my career at Victoria’s Secret and came up through the athleisure revolution when leggings became a thing where you could wear on the street and not in the gym. I remember saying at one point ‘oh I’ll never wear leggings’ but how wrong I was. So coming up through that, and seeing all the cool things happening, I thought it was missing in our sport. It tied me even more to golf. I knew I could solve that problem so I decided let’s just solve it. I quit the corporate job and tried to start the business. Golf is one of those things in my career that has got me into meetings, into conversations, into relationships that I never had any business being in. It’s been a great ice breaker and leveler.
IV. What exactly did you or didn’t you see in the market to help launch Foray Golf? It was a couple of things. One, coming from a place like Victoria’s secret, and I haven’t been to a store in a really long time, but their quality and attention to detail was absolutely insane. Imagine managing 1,500 stores across the world and having to make the exact same size bra—across this huge assortment, in the exact same way, on every single person, across multiple factories across the world. Just organizing that is a nightmare, so their product consistency is the thing they were able to create is unheard of. For me, taking that into what we do, is something I thought was missing. Some of the things we saw in the market, it was like they didn’t really care about women or think about women. They weren’t really looking at fit. They would just take a men’s polo and make it smaller. They didn’t know their customer either it felt like. If you think about a woman who plays golf, a lot of them are educated, affluent, a little obsessive compulsive to play this game consistently. Just wants to get better. So nobody was paying attention to that segment of women.
V. If you had to sum up the mission of Foray Golf, what would it be? I actually should probably write a mission statement, I don’t currently have one. For me, what Foray is more me is deeply different and personal to me. It’s about demonstrating to our daughters that you can build something from nothing. And for me, it’s literally for Ray [her daughter]. I want her to see her mother working hard for other women, with other women, to benefit women as a whole. For me, it’s a big parable to show her how she can excel and hopefully inspire other people along the way. The only way we’ve gotten where we are is authenticity and always trying to do the right thing. We have to align ourselves with that vision of doing the right thing, for the right people, for the right reasons…We’re deeply connected to the women that we’re servicing and deeply invested in continuing to make a better product and do things better every time.