This month MyGolfSpy tasked me with writing about different women in the golf industry for Women’s Golf Month. From women like Stephanie Luttrell who works in the R&D department at Titleist to Sue O’Connor and Clare Cornelius who are Master Fitters at Cool Clubs, and Renee Parsons at PXG who serves as President of Worldwide Apparel, I learned how women are touching the golf equipment industry in various ways. These women are just a small sampling of what’s taking place behind the scenes.
But it also led me to think: what women in my life have played an important role in helping me develop my love of the game? As I started to reflect, I realized more women had influenced my golf career than I previously thought. And without them, my career on the LPGA would have likely never happened, nor the career that came afterward – writing about golf, producing series around women’s golf, and hosting a podcast with the LPGA.
So, this piece is dedicated to the women who led me to where I am now. I encourage everyone reading this to think about the women in their lives who have helped foster their love for golf in big and small ways, and let’s continue to find ways to get more women engaged in the industry, as players, and spectators and weave them into the narrative of the legacy of the sport.
The Most Notable:
My Grandma: Mami Cuy is the foundation of everything that I do now, despite me never having the opportunity to play golf with her. She pushed back against societal norms when she started playing golf in Mexico City in the early 1950s, developing a passion and love for the game. At her course, Club de Golf Mexico, she spearheaded the junior program to get more young people playing and also urged the club to let the caddies play. Golf, for her, was a game that was meant to be enjoyed by all, and she would famously say, “You guys remember all the bad shots you hit, while I just focus on remembering all the good ones I hit because it happens so rarely, I want to cherish it when I do.”
My father, who played on the National Junior Soccer Team in Mexico had no interest in golf, so when my grandmother made him miss a soccer match to attend the World Golf Championship at their club that changed the course of his life. There he saw Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and other all-time greats. After watching them play, my father wanted to be like them, and soon quit soccer to play golf, eventually earning a golf scholarship at the University of Texas in El Paso where he met my mother.
It’s safe to say that without my grandmother making my father miss his soccer match to watch golf, that I wouldn’t be here, and therefore I would have never even played golf.
My Mom: When I decided I want to play golf competitively, and told my mom that I wanted to play on the LPGA Tour one day, she did everything in her power to help me get there. Every day she would drive me to practice, and then sit and read a book in the clubhouse until I was done. She never complained when I wanted to stay longer, and would patiently listen to me as I would talk about all the amazing things I would do in golf one day. To help me get access to a better practice facility, she worked in the snack shop at a country club on the weekends in exchange for me being able to practice there. When her 9-5 job got in the way of taking me to practice, then quit and started cleaning houses so she would have a more flexible schedule. There is nothing my mom wouldn’t do to ensure that I was given the tools to succeed. Outside of the financial sacrifices, she put many of her own dreams on hold. She believed in me, and while we have this idea that this is what every parent would do, I don’t know many parents who took it one step further as my mother did.
When I earned a full-ride to the University of Washington to play golf, my mom was proud, but she didn’t feel like her job was done. After graduating, I turned professional, and my mother caddied for me at my first professional event, the Colorado State Open, where I made a whopping $770. From there, we drove to a U.S. Open qualifier. My mom took care of all the details; where we would sleep, what we’d eat, arranged a caddy, and made sure I was as mentally relaxed as possible. When I qualified, my mother quickly went from being elated to figuring out how we would afford to play in the tournament. She started reaching out to family members, friends, and anyone she could think of who might donate. She raised enough for her and my dad to come and enjoy the moment with me, and when I made the cut at the U.S. Open, she also felt like her job wasn’t done: I still had to qualify for the LPGA.
For the next two years, she helped me through my highs and lows on the Symetra Tour as I had missed qualifying for the tour through Q-school, once by a single shot. When I earned my card for the 2014 season, she continued supporting me by helping manage my finances, but more importantly, being an emotional rock during my highs and lows on the tour.
Now in my new career as a writer and producer, she lends me the same encouragement and helps me develop my story ideas. She believes in my mission to make golf a more equitable space for women, and that belief propels me forward.
Other Stars in My Life
Regina Goodwin: She is the only female golf instructor I’ve had. I started taking lessons from her when I was 13 years old. She knew my family didn’t have a lot of money, so she didn’t charge us and would always make time to help me when I needed it. Having someone like Regina put effort into helping me reach my dreams meant a lot to me as a little girl. She was kind and generous and was yet another person in my life who reinforced the idea that I could achieve anything I wanted in golf. Now she’s coaching her daughter who plays college golf, and she continues to give back to the future of the game in various ways.
Marylou Mulflur: She was my head coach at the University of Washington and the reason why I chose to attend there. Her passion for the school, along with developing great players and great people created an atmosphere where you constantly strived for the best. Whenever I had a problem, whether it was with golf or personal, she would help me find a solution to deal with it. She helped me realize that the way I dealt with my emotions on the course took the joy away and made me play worse. She instilled in me a sense of self-belief that if I worked hard enough, I could accomplish anything. Choosing to play on her team was the best decision I made as a teenager, and having a strong woman guide me during a very transformative time in my life helped me feel prepared for the step I would take into the world of professional golf.
Ashleigh McLaughlin: When I approached Ashleigh at the LPGA Women’s Network about doing a podcast focused on issues in women’s golf, she jumped at it and helped bring the idea to life. We brainstormed for hours with each other about the topics we would cover. It was Ashleigh who came up with the name Talk Birdie to Me, and she established a marketing plan to get out to the masses. Because she gave me a platform to talk about golf in a way that is less about who’s winning on tour, and more about how we can grow the game, I look at golf differently. We’ve been able to cover issues that I didn’t previously know existed in the game. Her saying ‘yes’ to the podcast, and what I’ve learned through hosting the show has reinforced my belief that golf can do better as an industry.
Are there women in your life that have played an important role in regards to your relationship to golf? Share in the comments below and show them some love!