The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, February 6, 2020
Celebrating women in golf — Interview with Chantel McCabe — Must-click links in women's golf
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Celebrating Women’s Golf on NGWSD
In the spirit of National Girls and Women in Sports Day (celebrated yesterday), I’m going to be highlighting some of the movers and shakers in women’s golf – whether they are players, ambassadors, retired from the sport or work in the industry.
My podcast at the PGA, Fairway Tales, has opened my eyes to all the great work going on in the golf world and all the amazing stories that we should be screaming to the rooftops. Ultimately, it’s the people making women’s golf “go” and and the people tirelessly advocating for women’s golf who make it blossom.
And when I say make it blossom, it’s absolutely blossoming. One statistic that caught my eye yesterday was the growth of USGA*LPGA Girls golf. In 2019, they reached over 90,000 girls, awarded over $400,000 in grants and started programs at 48 new sites. Those numbers impress and will be impactful for years to come. Merely introducing girls to golf at a young age is a huge factor in growing the game. I think about that often – what would have happened if I played golf at a younger age? I never even considered trying golf when I was a kid. Would my family have played too if I did? Would my friends growing up? That matters.
Now let’s turn our attention to those movers and shakers. And since we are on the topic of the USGA – it makes sense to highlight their newest hire, Abby Liebenthal. I brought her on the podcast back in November, and she told us all about her side hustle and passion project, Fore the Ladies. I have a feeling this opened some doors for her and from what I can tell, it became official today that she’s now the Senior Manager, U.S. Open Fan Engagement at the USGA. She’ll continue to do amazing work there and, if you haven’t yet, be sure to check in where Fore the Ladies is headed next!
Next on my list is Annika Sorenstam and all the work she’s done for the game through her foundation. Although I haven’t seen any numbers from 2019, in 2018, “550 girls from 60-plus countries participated in one of the foundation’s events” in 2017 and “more than 600 ANNIKA competitors have played golf at the collegiate level, with 45 earning LPGA Tour cards.” At the collegiate golf level, which I’d assume the ANNIKA Foundation has something to do with creating higher demand and interest, 157 new women’s golf teams have been added since 2008. This accounts for all three NCAA levels—and is triple the growth rate of men’s golf.
I also can’t leave out a few other podcast guests who are killing the game in broadcasting and golf media: Henni Zuel, Hally Leadbetter, Alexandra O’Laughlin and Chantel McCabe (more from her in the interview section). I appreciate that through each of their unique personalities and ways of covering golf, more people start to become interested. Even if someone starts paying attention to golf because they enjoy Henni’s work or Alexandra’s work or whoever else, that’s a win! They work tirelessly to tell the stories in golf and women’s golf and if we didn’t have them, we would have far less reasons to care about the sport.
I’d be remiss if I left out PGA of America President Suzy Whaley! She is undoubtedly growing the game by not only making history by becoming the first female President of the PGA, but by being an instructor, by being connected to all the other female ambassadors in the game, by being a former professional golfer herself and by making it her mission to make golf a game for everybody. She’s probably one of the busiest people I know these days, but her vision does not go unnoticed. Our game could never have enough Suzy’s, I know that much.
Mike Whan also has to be mentioned in the same breath as the movers and shakers of golf. Whan has done more for the LPGA, and women’s golf, than any other Commissioner in its history, and I still feel like he’s just getting started. There was an article on him a couple months ago where he was talking about his family—and always wanting to have a daughter. He ended up with three boys, but now gets to look after hundreds of empowering women who play on the LPGA. Sometimes life doesn’t always go as we envision, but he found his calling at the LPGA.
This list of people is by no means exhaustive and I could probably write a novel on everyone doing great things for women’s golf. The point is to highlight some that immediately come to mind, and to celebrate a day (one day late) that brings attention to girls and women in sports. The work being done in our industry should be talked about more often and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do that each week for you!
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
Still love this LPGA insight from the Power Plays newsletter. A must-read!
New episode on the pod with Golf Channel’s Chantel McCabe!
I also did a quick write-up on Henni Zuel for PGA.com last week.
Take a look at the notes and leaderboard from Round 1 at the Vic Open.
Cheyenne Woods is starting the LPGA season with a lot of hope.
Due to coronavirus outbreak, the LPGA cancels China event.
The Symetra Tour announces its 2020 schedule in its 40th year.
After having her first child, Stacy Lewis makes her return in Australia.
Another #DriveOn feature is out! Check out this testimony from Celine Boutier.
Golf has a reason to celebration National Girls and Women in Sports Day!
Are we on the cusp of a major mixed-gender golf event? More on the Golf World Cup.
Golf associations react to the the USGA/R&A distance insights report.
This is a must watch reaction to getting an invitation to ANWA!
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Chantel McCabe
To further hammer home the point that the work being done by women in golf is critical to its success/growth, here are portions of my interview with Golf Channel’s Chantel McCabe. Even though much of her work is on the PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour, she is another voice in our choir encouraging people to either get out and play, or to just appreciate the uniqueness of golf entirely. McCabe became the youngest-ever Golf Channel personality to host Golf Central and today is one of the more familiar faces you’ll see on set.
I. On being new to the golf industry: There are so many opportunities in golf to get comfortable. Like in Orlando, at Winter Park 9, it’s so casual and there’s no dress code. If more places like that existed, it would be so much more welcoming. But that requires an entire business strategy and is a business operation, so I think it’s like anything; If I tried any new activity I would be out of my comfort zone. You have to stick your neck out. I wish there were more ample ways to highlight all of the great parts of golf. I take it upon myself to do that in my own circle by asking my girlfriends to go for drinks and then I take them to a golf course. I let them use my clubs. They enjoy it!
II. On the LPGA’s impact in golf: I’m not out on the LPGA very much, but I will say, covering the Solheim Cup a couple years ago was amazing. It was.. gosh, I’ll never forget the comeback Lexi had in singles. I love Lexi. I think she has so much pressure on her and to see these women up close I was just thinking, ‘Wow, you didn’t even get to grow up. You were playing professional events at age 16.’ I respect the heck out of that. How do you balance all of that and then become an adult under the spotlight?
III. On equality in golf: I don’t think the purses will ever be the same. And that’s not to say that women don’t deserve the same as men, but if we’re being honest, when we consume sports, LPGA players aren’t going to WNBA games, they’re going to NBA games. The same is happening across other sports. Bronte Law and I talk about this all the time; the men’s and women’s games are different so you have to treat them different. We of course want the best for them, but you have to realize how to get the best is a different route.
IV. On watching men’s and women’s golf: It’s an interesting conversation because I think there are a lot of factors on why you watch one versus the other. When you explain it this way, as people choosing to consume different sports for different reasons, people say they’ve never thought about that before. I get it, I am a woman in a man’s world, I get why there are frustrations—but I do also see the obstacles and realistically, we have to find different, creative approaches to the ultimate end goal we want.
V. On growing the game: We get wrapped up in comparing the PGA to the LPGA; it’s all golf and they are all professionals. Look at it this way: Nike and Lululemon. You buy and wear their products for different reasons and purposes. They are two premium things, and the best of the best, but they are used differently. I also want to talk to Jay Monahan (PGA TOUR Commissioner) and ask him how close we are to a mixed event…I think the guys would eat that up and fans would eat that up. What an opportunity—I hope they have an event like that coming.