What it’s like to play in an LPGA Pro-Am — Catching up with Nelly Korda

The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, May 9, 2024

Happy Golf Thursday, friends! This week, the LPGA is in Clifton, NJ for the Cognizant Founder’s Cup, an event centered around the 13 women who rallied together to create the leading organization for women’s golf. Connecting past, present, and future, Founder’s Cup embraces the tour’s rich history while paying it forward to the game’s next generation of young women. I got the opportunity to participate in Wednesday’s pro-am, walking the fairways of Upper Montclair CC alongside some of the game’s best young talent, Yealimi Noh and Lucy Li.

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My pro-am group, left-to-right: Alan Bastable, Zephyr Melton, Yealimi Noh, Lucy Li, Addie Parker (me), and Michael Bamberger (photo via Addie Parker)

A pro-am is a special format that pairs up a group of amateurs with golf pros in a bit of friendly competition. Pro-ams are usually ways for the players to see the course and grab a practice round before competition starts, and for this event in particular to pair up LPGA*USGA Girls Golf participants with a few of their heroes.

My group was the last to go out (but you know what they say…you save the best for last), after a 40-minute weather delay. The course had dried from the morning’s downpour and was primed and ready to go — and the views could be more stunning.

UMCC is surprisingly flat and easy to walk. But with narrow fairways and greens that are deceitfully quick, the course is no walk in the park. We managed to grind out an eagle and seven birdies, finishing at a solid 9-under round of 63.

Here’s what I learned:

If you’re lucky enough to play in a pro-am, be mindful that the first rule is to have fun. It’s a unique opportunity and you want to enjoy it as much as possible. Ask questions, get to know your group, and embrace the experience to the fullest.

As much as you should soak it in…don’t be the reason your group is slow. Pace of play is crucial (we had a very brutal six-hour round and exhaustion set in at the turn). Formatting varies from event to event, but par was our max, and there were five of us, if you hit a bad shot, shake it off, your partner’s got your back.

Pay attention to what the pros are doing. You’re witnessing their process up close, take notes! Both Yealimi and Lucy (and their caddies) were very forthright with every question we asked and it was incredible to pick their brains a bit. One thing in particular I was facinated with, was both players utilize some sort of aim-point when reading and analyzing greens. They are rather methodical about it, really using their feet and as many of their senses as possible.

Keep conversation light, and ask things beyond the realm of golf. Our group explored a wide range of topics, from the Kendrick Lamar/Drake rap beef to Formula 1, we covered a lot of ground in six hours.

Take pics!!!!! (this is obvious)

Editor’s caption: ICONIC. (Addie Parker photo)

Take advantage of the freebies. Most of the time, the party favors at a pro-am are pretty nice. This one one thing I didn’t do (I had too many friends to say hello to and got distracted), but UMCC set up a TravisMathew truck near check-in and had goodies that you could pick out and send directly to your house! On course, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse provided some premium hot dogs and refreshments that we indulged on whilst waiting to the green to clear.

I lucked out with Founder’s Cup being my first pro-am, with the activations and amount of familair faces—it was the perfect day. It was the best start to what will be a special week. I’ll be on-site during Friday and Saturday, capturing all the content imaginable, so feel free to message me with things you want to see or questions about the tournament, the course, the players, and beyond!

See you on the ‘gram!

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 addieparker25@theixsports.com ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!


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Five at The IX: Nelly Korda’s chase for six, her high-fashion night, and the Nelly invitational

It’s been a busy few weeks for the world No. 1, from the MET Gala to hosting a namesake junior invitational, Korda catches us up ahead of this week’s Cognizant Founder’s Cup.

Q. Have to talk about The Met. What was that experience like? How did that come together? Who was your favorite outfit, or who you were a little starstruck by?

NELLY KORDA: Gosh, it was so, so crazy. You’re standing in line ready to get on the carpet and you’re like seeing all these people you usually watch in TV shows or movies and they’re like famous singers and you’re starstruck the entire time. It’s the best people-watching for me. I was just silent looking at everyone’s dresses.

I would say like I saw Shakira and I just love Shakira. She’s so beautiful. Then Jaden Smith was really, really nice. He was the first person to say hello to me and introduce himself.

Everyone was really amazing. I can’t just point out one person. The dresses were unbelievable and the whole evening was just a dream come true.

Q. We know you have a really good fashion eye. To be in that setting, wear Oscar de la Renta, can you out into words how cool it was for you with that hobby, be in that environment?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, it was just a dream come true. I got a couple dresses to try on from Oscar de la Renta, and they were all so stunning. It was so hard to decide. I actually switched it up last minute, probably like 20 minutes before I started to get ready, and I had to completely change my entire look. I was going to go with a long sleeve gown so I was going to have my hair up.

Then I saw this amazing red dress and I just changed my entire look probably 20 minutes before I started to get ready. Switched it up on everyone.

It’s just, I mean, this is me. This is me, visor on wearing golf clothes. This is my comfort zone. It was really, really neat to step outside of my comfort zone and do something like that. That was my first time ever walking a red carpet and went out with a bang. I think it’s just downhill from here.

But it was such a neat experience and I’m just so grateful that I had the opportunity to do that.

Q. I know you keep things on the golf course as far as your accomplishments go outside of your bubble. To have an AJGA event that you have really embraced and being the host of that to going to the Met Gala, have you let yourself soak in those achievements off the golf course and think about them a little bit more?

NELLY KORDA: Yeah, I was looking through the photos of just my past week it, and it was amazing having my junior am and supporting Satchels, you know, that’s a local shelter in my area, and then coming out and also having the Boys & Girls Club and spending time with all the people that did donate to all those charities was a lot of fun.

And then seeing all the girls embrace the event and trying to make it as fun as possible for them too was really fun. I got to do something completely different and get a spray tan for the first time ever. I couldn’t show everyone my lovely permanent sock tan. Just doing something outside of my comfort zone is definitely really cool.

I thought, you know, I would never ever think that I would ever be able to attend the Met Gala. As a girl I watched it growing up and just in awe of all the dresses. To be on the red carpet or green carpet was a dream come true.

Q. The Met Gala, was that something that had been on your radar for a while or was that just something, a last-minute invitations?

NELLY KORDA: No, it was more spur of the moment for sure. I got the invite and obviously could never say no to that. It was a dream come true. Very grateful to Casey Wasserman for inviting me. It was just a dream come true, yeah.

Q. You’ve had a couple weeks here to sleep on the possibility of winning six in a row the first time on tour. Have you thought about that at all and what will it take to get to six in a row here?

NELLY KORDA: If I’m being honest, I have not thought about it at all because I’ve had so much going on those two weeks. Then obviously yesterday — or Monday I had The Met, so haven’t had too much time to think about it.

My track record hasn’t been the greatest in New Jersey. Last year missed the cut and we played KPMG here last year too and that was a nice missed cut as well.

I’m really just trying to keep it one shot at time, see how it goes. This golf course is tough. It’s very, very narrow off the tee. The rough is very penalizing. And it’s wet this year, so it’s even worse.

So just not getting too ahead of myself and taking it a shot at a time. As boring as it sounds or as many times as you’re going to hear me say it, that’s the motto and I’m going to stick to it.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
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Saturdays: Gymnastics
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Written by Addie Parker