The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, March 11, 2021
Ode to the women of golf — Interview with Amy Rogers — Must-click women's golf links
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To women in golf
With Monday having been International Women’s Day, I, along with most other women I know, took the time to recognize and celebrate the ladies in our lives that inspire, encourage, and support us each and every day. We all have mothers, sisters, colleagues, and friends that consistently have our backs, pick us up when we’re down, and cheer us on in our pursuits, making for some of the most significant personal and professional relationships.
In golf, finding women to lean on can sometimes be especially challenging since it’s typically lauded as a “gentleman’s game” and, at certain clubs across the country, also can be particularly exclusionary to women. Luckily, the archaic attitudes that have seemed to be inherently rooted within golf are now falling away and the game seems to FINALLY be becoming more accessible and inclusive across all demographics.
Even so, I’ve found that female friendships within golf are something to be cherished. There are so many incredible women that I have been lucky enough to meet during my time playing and working in the game that it’s hard to keep track of them all.
Nevertheless, for Golf Thursday this week, I wanted to pen a letter to the women of golf that have both impacted me and impacted the game in a positive way, driving the spirit and health of the sport through their tireless efforts to grow and nurture it, doing their best each day to burgeon the game they love so dearly.
Dear women in golf,
Man, how things have changed. When I look back over the course of my 20-year history with the game, I marvel at how different things look for young women pursuing golf. How many more opportunities there are. How many more women there are involved.
That kind of progress doesn’t just happen overnight, nor does it come without struggle and obstacle. It’s because of women working in golf that the game is beginning to look more like me and for that, I want to say thank you.
I see you. We all see you. Working as hard as you can to grow the game. Trying your best to garner interest in playing. Fighting for equality in media coverage and purse sizes. Telling female-centric stories. Your efforts aren’t unnoticed.
From writers and reporters to instructors and professionals, it takes an army to make a difference and women’s golf is lucky to have a determined one, committed to fighting the good fight, who refuse to shy away from the challenge.
We have women like Beth Ann Nichols, who single-handedly creates more women’s golf content for Golfweek in a week than any other major golf publication does in a month.
Women like Hally Leadbetter, who has made it her personal mission to make golf cool and engaging through her work with GolfTV and Golf Digest.
Women like Oneda Castillo, who became a Class A LPGA-certified teaching professional so that other women of color could see someone in their own demographic having success in a traditionally racially exclusive sport.
The list goes on and on and I could fill pages with names of women who have inspired me to be better and do better in my golf career. I want to take this moment to celebrate and thank them, but I also encourage them to keep going.
If you haven’t noticed, the women’s game is catching up. The gap between the treatment that men’s golf and women’s golf each receive is starting to close. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Progress is being made and it’s truly because of the women in golf that are fighting for equality that this forward movement is even happening.
There’s still so much work to be done yes, but I think that now more than ever, we are better equipped to handle the load. We have so many individuals that are affecting change that the disparities can’t last much longer. We must keep relentlessly forging ahead, driving on, because the future in golf is near and boy will it be female.
So, to the women in golf, thank you. Thank you for standing up, stepping out, and pushing forward, paving the way in this game for the generation behind you. I’m a product of the women who came before me and I hope to leave the game better than i found it for those that will follow me.
Keep working. Keep fighting. Keep making progress. You’re making a difference even if the results aren’t tangible just yet. Just continue to do your best. Trust me, the effort will all be worth it when even just one little girl chooses to make golf her lifelong passion, when this game captures her heart and she sees just how wonderful it is, when there’s finally equality in this sport.
You just have to keep going.
A woman in golf
This week in women’s golf
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Ron Sirak pens this incredible piece on equality for women in golf, defining what that word actually means and what it should look like. (via LPGA.com)
A great feature on 81-year-old Kathy Whitworth, golf’s winningest player, chronicling her life in and out of golf. (via Golf.com)
Leia Schwartz who works on social media for the LPGA Tour tells the story of her friendship with Shirley Spork, one of the original 13 founders of the LPGA. (via LPGA.com)
Ernst captures third LPGA Tour title with her victory at Golden Ocala on Sunday. (via LPGA.com)
All about 3-time LPGA Tour winner Austin Ernst. (via LPGA.com)
Jenny Coleman finished solo third at Golden Ocala and carded her career-best 54 hole total of 280. (via LPGA.com)
The Colemans aren’t the only identical twins that both have played pro golf. Leona Maguire has a twin sister that does too. (via Golfweek)
Ashley Buhai has been playing a bit of golf with Ernie Els recently and has been taking his money too. (via Golfweek)
Ashley Buhai has been taking Ernie Els’ money and getting a few short game tips from him as well. (via LPGA.com)
Jin Young Ko will play the 2021 ANA Inspiration. (via LPGA.com)
Sophia Popov is caddying for her boyfriend Max Mehles at PGA Tour Canada qualifying this week. (via Golfweek)
This major winner is looping this week at PGA Tour Canada qualifying. (via GolfDigest.com)
Check out the latest edition of the Forward Press podcast by Golfweek featuring Austin Ernst and the Solheim Cup. (via Golfweek)
More on the lawsuit Golf Channel is facing for discrimination in the workplace. (via WashingtonPost.com)
The HSBC Women’s World Championship will be played again this year and Sung Hyun Park and Jin Young Ko are both committed to teeing it up. (via LPGA.com)
Check out this video that Golf Digest released for International Women’s Day. (via GolfDigest.com)
The Symetra Tour begins its season at the Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic next week. (via SymetraTour.com)
The Mission Inn Resort and Club Championship will be played in May on the Symetra Tour. (via SymetraTour.com)
KXLY News Now will be the title sponsor for the Circling Raven Championship. (via SymetraTour.com)
Clear Golf will again be the official golf ball sponsor of the Symetra Tour in 2021. (via SymetraTour.com)
European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthews looks back at her time as a professional golfer and the strides that women’s golf has made since she began. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
The Ladies European Tour compiled a list of posts from golf organizations and individuals in the game about International Women’s Day. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Meet the Metraux sisters who are both competitors on the LET. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Rose Zhang has been invited to compete in the first event of the season on the Symetra Tour. (via Golfweek)
The Maryland women’s golf team is looking to be successful this spring, even with the challenges that COVID-19 has caused. (via Golfweek)
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Amy Rogers, Reporter for LPGA.com and GolfChannel.com
When did you become involved in golf and how did you begin your career covering the game?
My dad introduced me to the game when I was six years old. We used to play at a little par 3 course near our house where I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was also involved in other activities and sports, so golf wasn’t my main focus when I was growing up. When I went off to high school, my parents were concerned that soccer would be too physical given my small stature and wanted me to play a non-contact sport like golf. I played for my high school team and it was during my freshman year that my dad won tickets through the lottery to attend the 1999 Masters. That year’s tournament happened to fall during my spring break, so we were able to go. It changed my life. From that moment, I fell in love with the game. I became fascinated by the broadcast and wanted the opportunity to be the one to interview players after their rounds and share their stories.
A few years later, I was at the Memorial Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, where I went year after year with my parents. I ran into Scott Van Pelt, who was walking around the course one afternoon. He had been an anchor at Golf Channel shortly after it launched in the mid-90s and I had grown up watching him. I approached him at the course and told him about my aspirations to cover golf. We kept in touch and he connected me with people at Golf Channel who helped me get an internship while I was attending Syracuse University. I spent a summer covering the game and began freelancing for Golf Channel shortly after graduation.
What’s been your favorite event that you’ve gotten to cover? What story have you written or helped to produce that’s had the most impact on you personally?
My favorite event that I covered was the 2017 AIG Women’s Open at Kingsbarns. The course is about a 15-minute drive from St. Andrews, which is where we stayed for the week. The Old Course Hotel is located right along the road hole and my room overlooked the Swilken Bridge. Each morning, I could look out at the Old Course from my room and before I would head to work, I’d walk through town to Starbucks. It was an incredible way to start each day. Kingsbarns is one of the most underrated courses in golf. The course is magnificent. It hugs the coastline and is a true links-style course. The story that unfolded there was memorable, too, with In Kyung Kim getting major redemption after her heartbreaking loss in 2012 at the ANA Inspiration. It was an all-around incredible week.
One of the stories that has had the biggest impact on me has been that of Lizette Salas. During my time at the LPGA, I had heard repeatedly about her incredible journey. It had often been written about, but no one had produced a video feature about her story. So I set out to do that.
Lizette was the daughter of Mexican immigrants who had come to the United States looking for a better life for their family. Salas went on to become the first in her family to go to college. Her father, Ramon, who introduced her to the game, to this day works as a mechanic at a local golf club. To help her make her way to the LPGA Tour, they drove across the country in their red pickup truck, often sleeping in the truck when they had nowhere to stay at night, in order to make her dream a reality. Her inspirational story was one I could relate to in my own journey as my parents made tremendous sacrifices in their own lives to ensure I would have the opportunities they didn’t. Her story really resonated with me on a more personal level and by sharing her story I felt like I was sharing my own in a sense. And, by sharing Salas’ story I got the chance to produce similar features during my time at the LPGA.
You recently were a part of a powerful Drive On piece featuring Madelene Sagstrom. Why was it important to you to help tell her story and why is it so critical that we highlight stories such as Madelene’s?
Many of us have been, or know someone who has been, a victim of sexual abuse. Madelen Sagstrom was sexually abused as a seven-year-old little girl. For 16 years she held that secret. I hope that working with Sagstrom to share her story will help others to know that they don’t have to hold a secret like that for so long. It ate away at Sagstrom for years holding on to something that painful.
Like Sagstrom, who was motivated to share her story to help others, my purpose was the same. I had an incredible opportunity to work alongside her in sharing her story, in an effort to help anyone who might watch seek the help they need with the comfort in knowing they can have a positive resolution like Sagstrom. And, her willingness to open up about something so personal was also a chance for her to connect with her fellow players as well as fans on a much deeper level. Players have a powerful opportunity if they are willing to follow in Sagstrom’s footsteps, to connect with an audience beyond sport in sharing critical messages like those surrounding sexual abuse.
What needs to change in how women’s golf is covered? Are we closing the gap in the disparities between men’s and women’s golf coverage or do we still have a long way to go?
It has been encouraging to see in recent years the gap closing on the disparities in the coverage of men’s and women’s golf. However, there are definitely strides that still need to be made. I’d love to see more resources poured into covering stories on the women’s side as much as has been done on the men’s side. I’ve tried to show through my own storytelling, in producing stories like Madelene’s or Lizette’s, that there are compelling stories on the LPGA Tour to be told when the proper resources are provided.
What has been your biggest success as a golf reporter/content producer? Biggest challenge?
I think my biggest success is also my biggest challenge. In order to do what I do, to share players’ stories, there needs to be trust established between myself and the player. My biggest success has been establishing that trust among players on Tour in order to share some of their most personal challenges in life. That is a huge gift and responsibility. It’s an opportunity that has only come with time and a proven track record of accuracy, delicacy, and respect. Trust is the biggest commodity in storytelling and it’s something I work each and every day to build with players and their teams.