The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, March 25, 2021
LPGA Tour moms — Michelle Wie West is BACK — Wiezy's press conference — Must-click women's golf links
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What it means to be an LPGA Tour mom
After a two-week break following the Drive On Championship at Golden Ocala, the LPGA is back in action this week at the Kia Classic. The women will tee it up at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California and the field is loaded, with the top 14 players in the Rolex World Rankings competing.
However, there’s one name that has been drawing a lot of attention this week, someone we haven’t seen in quite a while: Michelle Wie West.
While it’s no secret that the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion was struggling with a wrist injury the last time we saw her in action at the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Wie West’s 2 year hiatus wasn’t just focused on her much needed recovery.
She and Jonnie West tied the knot in August 2019. Michelle then began making a foray into golf television, appearing as an analyst for Golf Channel on their “Live From” coverage and working for CBS Sports covering The Masters. The couple also welcomed baby Makenna Kamalei Yoona West on June 19th of 2020.
Needless to say, it’s been a busy two years for Michelle and it’s obvious that she’s been having a blast in all of her new roles. If you follow her Instagram, you’ve likely seen plenty of “Kenna” content from the mother-daughter duo sporting matching Nike sneakers to the major champion trying to sneak in practice and workouts during nap time to the Wests’ family golf course outings.
But, amidst all of the cuteness, it’s obvious that mom has been putting in a lot of work to get her game back in competitive shape and after all of the swing videos she’s been posting, many of us were wondering if and when we’d see her back out on Tour.
Well, this week Wiezy is officially back, this time with a new perspective on her career and the goals she wants to accomplish and it was this most recent addition to the “LPGA Mom” contingency that has been growing among the game’s best stars the last few years that really got me thinking again about the differences between men and women in the professional golf space.
Having been able to attend both PGA and LPGA Tour events, there is a marked difference in how parents on each tour interact with their kids while playing in tournaments. At PGA Tour events, it’s not common to see players’ kids out watching except when the father has an opportunity to win the event on Sunday.
It seems they hardly ever follow their dads’ play and, even if they do, very rarely will you see a PGA Tour player interacting with his children over the course of a round or even during pre-tournament practice rounds. Family and professional golf appear to be two separate entities on the men’s circuit.
On the LPGA Tour, those lines appear to be much more blurred. It’s not unusual to see stars like Brittany Lincicome or Stacy Lewis interacting with their children during pre-tournament prep or competition and other moms like Jane Park sometimes even choose to bring their kid with them on course when playing practice rounds.
Even Annika Sorenstam’s kids were walking and talking with her during tournament play at the Gainbridge LPGA a few weeks ago, digging in her pockets for her ball marker and holding her hand from green to tee box like it was just any other day. Granted, it was a much more lax environment for the former world number one than what it would have been in her heyday, but regardless, you would NEVER see that happening on the PGA Tour.
I’m not sure what the exact difference is between the mindsets of PGA Tour dads and LPGA Tour moms when it comes to parenting, but I do know that the Wie Wests and Lincicomes and Parks are making an important statement even if they’re not intending to.
For too long, women have been questioned about motherhood and the potential effects it could have on a career, with many people often wondering if we can truly “have it all”. It’s an antiquated assumption that a child completely disrupts a woman’s chances at being successful outside of the home, but alas, even in 2021, many still think this way. And it’s insanely frustrating to be told that we as women have to choose between being a parent and having a career, especially when a father isn’t held to that same expectation.
What the mothers of the LPGA do every week challenges that assumption, ultimately proving those with old-school mindsets wrong. By involving their motherhood in every aspect of their professional golf careers, these women are emphasizing the fact there isn’t a need for a choice to be made.
Women can be moms AND professional athletes. Women can be moms AND win on the LPGA Tour. Women can be moms AND have a career.
As Michelle and Jane and Brittany and Stacy and countless other LPGA moms are showing the world, women DON’T have to be one or the other to be successful. We women can be mothers and anything else that we want to be.
We can choose both.
This week in women’s golf
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This is the must-read story of the USGA Golf Museum and Library, entirely operated by women, and what the staff is doing to showcase the diversity within the game. (via Golfweek)
The LPGA Tour has only ONE club trailer for the entire tour. Here’s how Paul Boehmer and six sponsors keep it running for club repairs. (via LPGA.com)
Callaway will be an official marketing partner for the LPGA Tour. (via LPGA.com)
Michelle Wie West is making her first pro start in 2 years. (via LPGA.com)
More on Michelle Wie West’s comeback this week in California. (via GolfDigest.com)
In Gee Chun opens up about her struggles with depression and says her new home in Dallas has helped her feel happier. (via LPGA.com)
2018 Kia Classic champion Eun-Hee Ji will be relying on her happy memories this week in Carlsbad. (via LPGA.com)
Jennifer Chang, a former USC Trojan, feels very familiar with Aviara even though she’s never played in the Kia Classic. (via LPGA.com)
Here’s how and where to watch the 2021 Kia Classic this week. (via LPGA.com)
The top 15 players in the Rolex World Ranking are committed to playing in the ANA Inspiration next week. (via LPGA.com)
There have been a few amendments to the 2021 LPGA Tour schedule. Here’s what you need to know. (via LPGA.com)
The LPGA Tour isn’t planning on allowing fans at events for quite a while. (via Golfweek)
The LPGA’s “Drive On” campaign is celebrating two years this month. Hear from Roberta Bowman, Chief Brand and Communications Officer, about her involvement with the initiative and what “Drive On” has meant to her. (via LPGA.com)
Check out this interview with Maulana Dotch, the second Black woman ever to earn her Class A certification as a PGA of America member. (via GolfChannel.com)
Here’s a full preview of this week’s Symetra Tour event, the IOA Championship. (via SymetraTour.com)
Ruixin Liu defeated top amateur Rose Zhang in a playoff to take home the first Symetra Tour title of the season. (via Golfweek)
After dealing with an injury in 2020, Ruixin Liu wins the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic. (via SymetraTour.com)
All about Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic winner Ruixin Liu. (via SymetraTour.com)
Amateur Rose Zhang almost won on the Symetra Tour last week and still counts the week as a success even without the W. (via SymetraTour.com)
After week 1, here’s where the Race for the Card stands. (via SymetraTour.com)
Remember Emily Kristine Pedersen? She teed it up last week in the Symetra Tour season opener. (via SymetraTour.com)
Trust Golf is the new sponsor for the Women’s Scottish Open. (via LPGA.com)
The queen of Spain has accepted the presidency of the Honorary Committee for the 2023 Solheim Cup. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Michelle Wie West Meets the Media at The Kia Classic
How is tour life treating you at least the last day and a half?
It definitely felt like the first day back at school. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone. Didn’t recognize a lot of people, to be honest. A lot of new rookies. Shows you how long I’ve been out. It’s been a lot of fun so far seeing you guys, seeing all the staff, all the rules officials, so it’s been great seeing everyone.
How is the game rounding into shape as you head into your first week back?
It’s pretty amazing how like hours-wise how much less I put in than before. But I’ve been talking to my friends, fellow mom Jane Park, and we were talking about it. We really only have at the max two hours to practice and just being hyper-focused, not even looking at your phone not even once, and just knowing what you have to do.
So it’s been a lot more efficient. Been having a lot of FaceTime lessons with my coach, David Leadbetter. We’re all getting used to Zoom and the lifestyle, but it’s been great. I’m just fortunate enough and grateful that I have the opportunity to come back out here and play, especially with having maternity leave and all that.
So I feel very grateful to be in the position I’m in right now.
And you feel like you’re bouncing back into shape post-pregnancy and your wrist as well?
Yeah. You know, my body is what it is. It’s just — every day I just, you know — I just feel grateful that I’m able to tee it up with my body. Especially with the baby, I have to be even more careful. There was one day where I went out there a little bit too hard and having to hold her all day, that’s one thing I want to avoid. Just being able to hold her is my No. 1 priority, so definitely putting a premium on my body even more so.
So I brought like three bags of like recovery stuff, so I’m here. I’ll have my hotel clinic going.
How would you characterize where your game is tournament-wise, tournament-ready? How do you feel? It’s got to be a strange feeling out here and practicing.
I mean, tournament-wise I don’t have an answer for you. It’s so long since I played a competitive round. But I’m pretty proud of myself for grinding it out there. I’ve been grinding. As I said, I’m just grateful I’m out here. I’m enjoying myself and having a lot of fun.
It’s been fun the last couple of days to get the competitive juices going. Especially playing the pro-am today and playing our own ball, it’s definitely getting me excited.
I’m definitely nervous, but also grateful to feel nervous again. The first time I felt nervous like this, you know, I said before being on live TV was the closest thing I felt to feeling the first tee jitters.
I’m excited out there and to be nervous tomorrow. It’s definitely — I can feel it brewing already, and already a lot of fun.
Can you tell us a little bit about Makenna? Are your parents here helping you out? Will you be using daycare? What is the week like with her?
Yeah, both my parents are here right now. They flew over from Hawaii, which I feel very grateful that they did. We have both dogs here this week which is a lot of fun. It’s a big family circus.
The last time I was here I just had Lola, but our family grew a little bit, and the more the merrier. It’s definitely hectic, but, yeah, she’s at home in the hotel room with my mom right now. We’re doing grandma daycare this week. I met with all the amazing ladies at daycare yesterday, and I think might go in. I’m easing my way in, especially with COVID. You know, just making the decision not to have a nanny and it’s just all weird.
But I am easing my way into it, and it’s hard. Even leaving her with my mom. Being just us for so long, it was just me and her and my husband that I’m learning to let go a little bit. It’s hard, but I’m learning to let go.
And the best advice you received from another mom or Inkster or your own mom maybe?
The best piece of advice I think is just the support that I get from everyone. You know, it’s just fun. I played with Stacy Lewis the last two rounds and it’s incredible. In our conversation, I don’t think we talked about anything else besides our kids. It was so fun just seeing — just getting all the support.
Even talking to Juli, talking to Brittany Lincicome, all the moms out here. I talk to Jane Park a lot. And just the support that we give one another. You know, it’s hard. It’s hard to leave your kid for that long, especially one of our first weeks being working moms. All working moms know. It’s a tough first week to leave your kid.
But the support we all give each other, I’m very fortunate about that.
We saw Annika Sorenstam make her appearance at the Gainbridge Championship exactly a month ago and she has even admitted that her son has inspired her to get involved with the game of golf again. Can you talk a little bit about how maybe this has been similar to your case and how having a baby girl has encouraged you to pick up your own golf clubs again?
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I thought I was done, to be honest. After KPMG in 2019, I thought I was done, especially when I found out I was pregnant later that year. I thought that cemented it. I thought there was no chance of coming back, and I told my husband that. He was like, No, no, just think it through.
Then we found out that Makenna was going to be a girl and that just changed my perspective of everything. It was crazy how just that one little fact just changes everything.
Then I started to think, you know, I kind of want to do it. I want to show her in real-time that I can — that I play golf. It’s one thing to have her watch YouTube videos, but it’s another thing to have her watch me with her own eyes. Seeing me go out there, work hard, and try to lead by example.
That moment that Tiger had with Charlie, is the first thing that popped into my mind and that’s been a huge motivation and that’s been a new dream of mine.
Heading into this week do you have a goal in terms of making the cut, finishing top 10, anything like that?
Yeah, my goal out there I told my caddie, I want to go out there and every shot I want full commitment. That’s something that I struggled with in the past, especially with my injuries kind of being forefront in my mind. I want to go out there and commit 100% to each shot.
Goal-wise obviously I want to win. I’m not out here just to make the cut or just to do whatever. But I’m really enjoying my time out here. I want to have fun, and I know that’s when I play my best, is when I go out there and have fun and really enjoy the game. I’m going to do that.
Also as a competitor, I want to kind of show everyone what I got. So I’m just going to go out there and take it shot by shot and enjoy myself, try to make my daughter proud.