The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, September 17, 2020
Women worth watching — Interview with Nisha Sadekar — Must-click links in women's golf
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Women Worth Watching
With the second LPGA major of the year in the bag — which was a real treat I might add — now seems like a great time to talk about the future of women’s golf.
Let’s start with the next two LPGA majors: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (Oct. 6-9) and the U.S. Women’s Open (Dec. 10-13). Mark your calendars, friends. Tune into the coverage. Be a part of the conversation.
I can’t stress enough the importance of being an active supporter of women’s golf in all of these ways—watching, talking, engaging. I don’t necessarily agree with the belief that any publicity is good publicity. But I do agree that some of the chatter surrounding women’s golf these days—like the Sophia Popov situation, and “the wall” controversy last weekend at the ANA Inspiration—shows a level of investment that hasn’t always been there. If fans and golfers are catching wind of these conversations and feel compelled enough to be a part of them, that’s a wonderful sign.
In mentioning “the wall” situation at Mission Hills, I might as well get you up to speed. Without fans this year, the setup on the 18th hole had a blue wall/backstop-looking structure behind it in place of the grandstands, essentially. There were a handful of complaints that it was dumb to do that—because players could just go for the green without any fear of hitting it into the water behind the wall. If players did hit the wall, and the ball was up against it, they got a free drop away from the wall so they are able to comfortable chip or putt.
Many were proposing an island 18th green (like Nelly Korda) and to play the final hole without any structures at all. Others didn’t quite understand the logic behind the conversation to begin with. I am all for a thriller-finishing hole, but I would have to side with Marina Alex on this one. I don’t think it took away from the championship in any way. And as she points out, it’s actually not any different than having the grandstands there. The PGA Tour is facing these same situations without fans—but for whatever reason, nobody has complained about course setups or saying they have too much of an advantage.
Again, these conversations are great for the women’s game. LPGA players prove time and time again that they are worth watching and engaging with. So let’s get as many people as we possibly can to hop on this train. It’s important because more women’s golf fans means more advocates, more ticket sales, more sponsors, more money and more viewers. It’s annoying that women have to work harder than anyone else to prove their worth. But all of us together will help move women’s golf in a better, stronger direction. Every little nuance of support matters.
All of us together can help eliminate the fact that LPGA players are still having to buy their own golf clubs. Yes, you read that right. A professional athlete, who is the best in the world at what they do, is still having to pay out of her own pocket for clubs. One story recently surfaced about Janet Lin during ANA in that she allegedly had to purchase the Mizuno irons in her bag that week.
It gets better, though.
Mizuno released a statement following the accusations basically denying that they wouldn’t send her clubs. They claimed that it was “too late” to get them to her so she went and purchased them locally. It’s an incredibly empty statement; I had to read it a few times to even understand what they were getting at. Lin clapped back confirming that what they said was inaccurate.
These are the stories I hope go away sooner rather than later. There is absolutely no reason for this to happen to LPGA players. There isn’t a chance in hell this would ever happen on the PGA Tour. It’s unfair and just flat out wrong. Not only are these women worth watching. They are women worth paying, supporting and flat out just getting behind. The future is female. The future of golf is female.
It’s time to get on board with that or golf will be hurting as a result.
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This Week in Women’s Golf
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Mirim Lee wins a stunner at the ANA Inspiration. (via PGA.com)
Amid Asia cancellations, LPGA announces another new event. (via LPGA.com)
Because of poor air quality, the Portland Classic was cut to 54 holes. (via ESPN)
Vancouver native Caroline Inglis makes return to Portland LPGA event. (via The Columbian)
From Sophia Popov: a letter to her sisters on tour. (via LPGA.com)
Brooke Henderson falls short in wild finish at the ANA Inspiration last week. (via The Star)
Lindsey Weaver is still playing without a caddy with modified protocols. (via Tennis World USA)
Caddie Master volunteers honored at Cambia Portland Classic. (via LPGA.com)
This 17-year-old Chinese golfer is turning heads after winning three straight events since turning professional. (via MSN.com)
Nothing was typical at this year’s ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage. (via Patch)
No fans at the U.S. Open changes golf’s revenue picture. (via New York Times)
Here’s why Annika Sorenstam supports developing the athlete first. (via PGA.com)
Ron Sirak’s awesome recap of the ANA Inspiration. (via LPGA.com)
Spotted on tour: Palm-Springs inspired Callaway golf bag. (via Golf.com)
Brooke Henderson isn’t the only player to withdraw from the Portland Classic this week amidst the poor air quality. (via Sportsnet)
The next LPGA major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, will also be held without spectators. (via PGA.com)
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Nisha Sadekar
Nisha Sadekar is one who lives and breathes the motto that the future of golf is female. Her company, PGD Global, is empowering golfers far and wide, but especially the female golfer. Her and I had a fun conversation about how her work is moving the needle to make golf more inclusive, how far we’ve come since she was a young girl and where she sees the industry going.
I. Tell us a little bit about yourself. My name is Nisha Sadekar and I am the CEO of a company called PGD Global – Play Golf Designs, Inc. And I produce high-level celebrity golf tournaments and fashion experiences, but all based around the game of golf. Inside those events we celebrate diversity and inclusion and women’s empowerment. We’ve built this really cool business where we can bring forward, after 30 years of playing golf, all the gaps that my sister and I saw in the industry that we can fill through our events.
II. How did you get into golf? I remember being 8 or 9 years old and my mom loved to watch golf. When you’re that young, everyone looks old, so I thought only old people played golf. I remember when my dad started to say that he wanted us to play golf and he wanted to take us to the golf course. We didn’t understand why because we never saw anyone playing golf that looked like us—or with that youthful energy. We’ve come a long way in 30 years. I’m thinking about now where I want to be when I’m 50 and how we can grow the game. There is so much opportunity at the moment.
III. How did your perception of golf change over time? When I got into golf, going back to my Indian parents, we couldn’t challenge our parents. We were very much like okay we are going to go to the golf course and do our homework. But my dad, because he saw potential in us, would take us to the course really early in the morning and we would be late for school in our golf shorts and shirts on. We were made fun of and bullied because of golf—that was hard. We knew right away that it wasn’t cool. I was so young I didn’t know but I was feeling a lot of pain. At the same time, I enjoyed it. There was a beauty about the game, so I was trying to find balance and my identity. Looking back on it now, I’m really happy my dad kept us in the game. If I didn’t go through that, I wouldn’t have the ability to connect at the level I do.
IV. How are you helping make golf more inclusive? Some of it is almost subliminal but some of it is also very in your face. Some of the things that are subliminal are working with BET or Soul Train and creating a golf experience; talking about the journey of these brands on the golf course. As you’re playing golf, we will have par yard signs that take you on a journey telling you about the history of BET. We’re working with Indigo Gin right now, which is Snoop Dog’s new gin, and we’re trying to create a golf platform because Snoop loves golf. So how do we create some swag, and a level of cool, on the golf course? So we’re introducing golf to an audience that might be thinking they don’t belong and telling them a different story.
V. Golf has come a long way since you started playing. But what do you think has to happen at the local levels to invite more people into the game? There is a lot you can do from an event standpoint and making those experiences more fun and exciting. But I would also say just to be sensitive when communicating with women. If we understand what we know right now as it relates to women’s golf and the growth of women in the corporate world, we’re going to start to see a lot more decisions financially made by women. And golf has to be on their radar. Golf has to be something they understand. Women are not going to stand back and be quiet and just follow; I think we’re entering a new phase. When you walk into a golf club, you’re not going to see very many women. If you are the first point of contact, and you know what a woman feels like when she walks in the gates—there’s a lot of permission and unknowns going through her head. I think it’s important for clubs to have a system in place for how to treat women. Because golf is a sensitive sport, and that’s key. If the future of golf is female, start opening those doors and recognize how you are receiving and welcoming women into the game.