Women of the Golf Channel (2023 Edition)

In 2012 I created a post titled Women of Golf Channel and it was my most popular post. The information became outdated so I did a Women of Golf Channel (2018 Edition). It’s time for another update.

In 2020, Golf Channel announced they were moving from Orlando, Florida to NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut which had a huge impact on their employees. A lot of familiar faces on the Golf Channel were gone including; Chantel McCabe (now with ESPN), Lisa Corwell (was very vocal about discrimination at Golf Channel and has a book coming out May 2023 called TroubleMaker), Bailey Mosier (TV personality and married to Brandel Chamblee so occasionally appears on Golf Channel), and Lauren Thompson (works for NBC sports NEXT – the technology division that includes GolfPass).

You would think that Golf Channel would list it’s TV personalities in the about section of their website but that would be to easy. If you want to find them go to NBC Sportsgroup Press Box for a list.

Here are the current women of the Golf Channel

Anna Jackson (formally Whiteley) – joined in 2019 as a co-host of Morning Drive (replacing Cara Banks-Robinson who was promoted to Golf Central. She came from England. Morning Drive was cancelled when Golf Channel moved to Connecticut but Anna remained and now co-hosts shows like Golf Central and Golf Today.

Cara Robinson – joined in 2015 as a co-host to Morning Drive (replacing Holly Saunders). In my opinion, she has become the “Kelly Tilghman” of Golf Channel and does the “Live from” broadcasts from all the important championships.

Paige Mackenzie – joined full-time in 2015 but has been doing on-air appearances since 2012. Her title on her bio page is “Analyst, LPGA Tour” but her role is much bigger with appearances on Golf Today as the analyst discussing PGA tour betting odds, analyst at PGA Tour Waste Management and LPGA tour events.

Morgan Pressel – joined in 2021 and officially took over Judy Rankin’s roll in the booth for LPGA tournaments when Rankin retired in 2022. Her first work was as an on-course analyst for LPGA events while she was still actively playing on the LPGA. Her first on-air TV work was at the 2015 USGA US Women’s Open.

Karen Stupples – joined in 2013 and is an on-air course reporter for the LPGA. She has occasionally been in the booth and I thought she may get to replace Judy Rankin but Pressel won the job. As a side note, she and her partner, Jerry Foltz (former LPGA on-course reporter) are a couple that became “social media” popular during the pandemic because of their amusing twitter feeds. Foltz has left the Golf Channel to join LIV as a golf analyst.

Kay Cockerill – joined in 1995 (since the start of Golf Channel). Her role now is mostly as an on-course reporter for LPGA events. She also does some women’s college events and NCAA golf championships that air on Golf Channel.

Kira Dixon – joined Golf Channel PGA tour coverage in 2021. Prior to her role interviewing players on-air, she was on the digital platform Golf Pass as a lifestyle reporter. She also did digital work for the USGA.

Amy Rogers – She fills-in for Anna Jackson on Golf Central and also is seen on LPGA coverage doing interviews. Amy is listed as a “contributor” on her Golf Channel profile. She is also listed as a contribution on the LPGA Network.

Henni Koyack – Not sure if she is an NBC employee but in 2023 she joined the Golf Channel Podcast “Beyond the Fairway.” Occasionally she appears on PGA Tour coverage on NBC/Golf Channel doing player interviews or special content segments. She also worked for the PGA Tour GolfTV and is most recognized for her exclusive interviews with Tiger Woods. She is from England and a former LET golfer.

Blair O’Neal – I don’t know if she is an employee of Golf Channel but she is the co-host of School of Golf so most people associate her with the Golf Channel. In 2010, she won the Big Break which was a wildly popular Golf Channel show.

As a side note, some people think that Dottie Pepper and Amanda Balionis-Renner work for the Golf Channel but they do not. Both women work for CBS Sports. They get to work The Masters and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AM so if I had my choice of jobs of all the women highlighted in this post, I’d want Pepper or Renner’s job.

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YouTube Golf – it’s a thing!

Do you know about the YouTube golf “community” comprised of channels where average Joe golfers publish videos of their on course adventures. There are a lot of average Joe YouTube channels with small subscriber numbers but then there are some of these “average Joe” YouTube golfers that make a living as “content developers” and are considered big “influencers” in golf. They are a self-described “community” because many do cross-channel content and there are even YouTube channels that just talk about what is going on in the YouTube golf space.

I pretty much stumbled across this whole YouTube golf thing. One day I went on YouTube to see if I could find a course review. I did not find a review but I did find a video of a guy playing the course I would be playing. His YouTube channel is Perfectly Average Golf. I found Alan, the golfer, to have a pleasant personality but I was really watching to see the layout of the golf course, not because I wanted to see him critique his game. After viewing that channel I started to get YouTube recommendations for other golf channels and it was crazy how many golfer “vlogs” exist on YouTube and now I have been watching a number of them and it is incredible how many channels have huge followers; and therefore they are making a living as YouTube Golfers.

Here are some of the most popular YouTube golfer channels. The information is from their “about section” on their channels on March 5, 2023.

  1. Rick Shiels Golf, 2.47 million subscribers, 650,669,633 views, joined YouTube in October 2011
  2. Good Good Golf, 1.14 million subscribers, 234,972,505 views, joined YouTube in July 2020
  3. GM Golf, 857,000 subscribers, 191,815,453 views, joined YouTube in April 2013
  4. Peter Finch Golf, 529,000 subscribers, 139,815,453 views, joined YouTube in October 2011
  5. Micah Morris Golf, 419,000 subscribers, 42,135,491 views, joined YouTube in October 2018
  6. Bob Does Sports, 390,000 subscribers, 47,603,737 views, joined YouTube September 2021
  7. Grant Horvat Golf, 345,000 subscribers, 28,328,887 views, joined YouTube April 2014
  8. Fore Play Golf, 297,000 subscribers, 94,279,403 views, joined YouTube January 2019
  9. Bryan Bros Golf, 198,000 subscribers, 24,611,743 views, joined YouTube March 2014
  10. Zac Radford, 122,000 subscribers, 56,679,596 views, joined YouTube April 2011
  11. Golficity, 81,300 subscribers, 24,818,435 views, joined YouTube September 2012
  12. Busta Jack, 79,600 subscribers, 5,342,020 views, joined YouTube October 2021

Rick Shiels it the “grand daddy” of them all. His numbers far exceed others with 2.47 million subscribers and total channel views of 650,669,633. He was a teaching professional and started years ago with teaching videos but expanded to other content, including matches. He doesn’t teach anymore and is solely focused on his YouTube Golfer job. His “Break 75” videos where he plays a course to see if he can break 75 is very popular. His last “Break 75” from Bay Hill (posted March 3rd, just five days prior to the writing of this post) has 618,767 views. I like watching the series because of the courses. My favorite is Royal Birkdale – Break 75 (again, to see a beautiful golf course I doubt I’ll ever visit myself). I actually ended up enjoying watching the golf because he had two other players with him trying to break specific scores.

If you’re not aware of the YouTube model it’s basically — reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours and you can join the YouTube partner program and monetize your channel. Basically, there is a YouTube algorithm, which embeds advertisements into every video and pays the creators depending on how many people watch the ads, and for how long. Also once your content is posted and it continues to get views you can potentially make money forever on the content (even if the video is five years old). Another revenue stream is that once you become popular, companies approach you for promotional deals. Many of these YouTube golfers have apparel deals. They even get deals for non-golf products. I’ve seem them promoting shaving products, alcohol (mostly beer and hard cider), food meal preparation kits, and (not surprising) sports betting companies.

In the last few months some of the channels have gotten so big that brands like Callaway and TaylorMade are sponsoring the YouTube Golfers. Think about it – A golf brand can spend marketing dollars on a Tour Pro that may or may not get TV time or spend money on a YouTube Golfer with over a million followers, posting content weekly, with half a million views per video. And these companies can use these YouTube channels to promote PGA and LPGA players. For example, Good Good and Callaway announced a deal on January 3, 2023. A few months later, on the “Good Good Extra” Channel a video, Knockout Bunker Challenge with LPGA Tour Winner Andrea Lee was posted. Lee is a Callaway Ambassador and gave the good good guys bunker tips and then they played a 5-bunker game. In the first hour on YouTube the video had over 11,000 views.

In general the golf “vlogs” follow familiar formats on each channel, golfers play a match or scramble and post two videos (front nine match video and back nine match video). Again, some of the channels are so popular that they have fans or golf industry contacts that invite them to play amazing courses (many private courses I’ll never play). The marketing impact for the golf courses can be significant too.

Also, adding legitimacy to these YouTube golfers is the fact that PGA tour players are guests on channels. Two fun matches to watch are Max Homa and Keegan Bradley on Bob Does Sports. Ricky Fowler has been on both Rick Sheils and Good Good Golf. Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood and others have been on Fore Play. Other players appearing on various channels are Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Kisner, Scott Stallings, Beau Hossler, and Billy Horschel.

Cross-channel content is a common format. YouTube golfers will play together and post content from their matches on their respective channels (usually a nine-hole competition on each channel). As a community this appears to be a way they really help each other build followings. It’s how I found out about many of the channels I have highlighted in this post. For example, Good Good Golf members have stated that the playing series they filmed with Rick Shiels helped them passed the million subscriber mark on their channel. I assume Rick Shiels benefited too with the young audience Good Good Golf most likely brought to his channel.

Also once you start watching you realize how various channels are connected. Good Good Golf was founded by Garrett Clark (GM Golf), his cousin Micah Morris and three other guys (who also have their own channels). It is now a huge brand with a very popular apparel line. I found it fascinating that Garrett Clark said at age nine, he watched the Bryan Bros on YouTube and knew that is what he wanted to do – be a YouTuber. This year a “big drama” in the YouTube community developed because Micah Morris and Grant Horvat, who where part of Good Good Golf, left the group (channel) to do “their own thing.”

Rick Shiels and Good Good have great content but some of my favorite channels are currently Bob Does Sports, Busta Jack, and Golficity. Bob Does Sports has three unique guys (Bobby Fairways, Joey Coldcuts, and Fat Perez) with different golf skills and they can be very funny. And Bob Does Sports is a popular channel for Pros to go on and play a match (the pro against the three guys playing scramble). BustaJack is a newer channel and gaining popularity. They are pretty good golfers and have a series “Golfin’ Old Glory” where they are playing a course in every state. Golficity have played a lot of pretty courses in the the Northeast and one of the main reasons I watch the videos is to see courses I may never get to play (e.g., Sleepy Hollow). Every now and then the YouTube Golfers will have silly “challenges” which I think are gimmicky and not of interest to me but perhaps these “challenges” (like Bob Does Sports Taco eating on the course) appeal to their target audience.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the female YouTube golfers. Their presence on YouTube is small compared to the men. A few women female YouTube golfers are well known because they participate on popular channels (e.g., Hanna Cook on Barstool). In this post, I will just highlight the few female YouTube golfers I’m aware of that have their own channels and play matches. I did find a few female golfers with large subscribers but to me their content was more lifestyle brand focused (with little golf playing content) so I am not highlighting those channels.

  1. Paige Spiranac, 391,900 subscribers, 49,129,462 views, joined YouTube August 2016
  2. Claire Hogle, 103,000 subscribers, 16,155,935 views, joined YouTube January 2015
  3. Hailey Ostrom, 43,000 subscribers, 6,543,496 views, joined YouTube October 2019
  4. Mia Baker, 22,900 subscribers, 3,468,654 views, joined YouTube March 2020
  5. Gabby Golf Girl,12,400 subscribers, 413,495 views, joined YouTube January 2014

I’m not really a fan of Paige Spiranac’s social media presence overall since she does play up the “sexy golf girl” persona (especially on Twitter and Instagram) but it’s her way of marketing her brand and that is her choice. Regardless of how one might feel about her brand, you can’t ignore the numbers and she actually does post matches on her channel. Claire Hogle is a great golfer and has played with Garrett Clark and and other YouTube golfers. Mia Baker is a British golfer and more “average skills” but can be amusing.

Gabby Golf Girl is a 15 year old and has 125,000 Instagram followers and setup her “new” YouTube channel in February 2023 (even though YouTube has her joining in Jan 2014). She has game and she has done video matches with Bob Does Sports, Grant Horvat, and as of this writing, baseball star Johnny Damon. I think if she keeps creating the type of content she does that she will be big in the YouTube golf community given she’s only really been posting for a little over a month and with only six videos (and 14 shorts) she has 413,495 views. Her most recent video was Gabby playing a scramble format with Johnny Damon to see how low they could go with their scramble score; and pars were worth $100 and birdies $200. At the end of the video they went to a grocery store and paid people’s groceries up to “the money value of the final score.” Now that is unique content!

So I am now watching golf on YouTube more than on the golf channel. I still love to watch the Majors, a few PGA Tour events (e.g., Waste Management, The Players Championship), and the LPGA tour on TV. Honestly, I never thought I’d enjoy YouTube Golfers but I guess the saying “never say never” is true. I like to watch YouTube golf videos for three reasons. First, to see the beautiful golf courses. Second, I actually find some matches engaging while being entertained by some of the personalities. Third, I can get my golf watching fix when I want (and it’s what I choose to watch and not just whatever is available on TV).

Do you watch YouTube Golf and what is your favorite channel? Let me know in the comments below.

AIG Women’s British Open Purse Increase

AIG and The R&A “put their money where they mouth is” with a new record overall purse for a women’s golf major. The purse total is $5.8 million with $870,000 for the winner. And they announced they are committed to raising the 2022 purse by a million to $6.8 million. The purse increase announced by AIG and The R&A is great news for women’s professional golf.

At least for the majors, I’m happy to see in 2021 things are moving in the right direction. For example, back in 2012 the USGA’s purse for the U.S. Women’s Open was $3.25 million with $585K going to the winner and in 2021, the U.S. Women’s Open purse total was $5.5 million with $1 million to the winner.

I do find it interesting that sponsors for the women’s majors get to associate their name with the major. For example the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship versus the men’s PGA Championship. But if that is the price to pay for higher pay for the women the so be it.

The USGA has a history of having the highest purses for the majors and with Mike Whan, former commissioner of the LPGA as the new CEO of the USGA, I’m hoping that he makes a big statement for women’s golf in 2022. I would love to see the governing body be the first golf organization to have the men’s and women’s purses be the same amount — a girl can dream!

The chart below lists the purses for both the women’s and men’s majors for 2021. I do care about pay equity and wrote about it in my 2012 blog “The Gender Gap in Golf Prize Money”. I’m not going to go in to deep comparison because that would require looking at regular season tour events (as I did in 2012). My hope would be that perhaps one day sponsors will see the value of women’s golf equal to men’s golf and the money will follow.

I am providing a chart because I know readers (as I did) will wonder what the payouts were in 2021 so I did the research for anyone taking the time to read my blog.

Women’s MajorsTotal PurseWinner’s ShareMen’s MajorsTotal PurseWinner’s Share
U.S. Women’s Open$5.5 Million$1 MillionU.S. Open$12.5 Million$2.25 Million
AIG Women’s British Open$5,8 Million$870KBritish Open$11.5 Million$2.07 Million
KPMG PGA Championship$4,5 Million$675KPGA Championship$12 Million$2.16 Million
ANA Inspiration$3.1 Million$465KThe Masters$11.5 Million$2.07 Million
Evian Championship$4.5 Million$675K   

Great Day for Women’s Golf: Augusta National Announces a Women’s Amateur Championship

For years I have been wishing Augusta National would take “meaningful action” to support women’s golf. Yes, Augusta welcomed female members in 2012 when Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore were extended invitations to join the club. However like most women who love golf, and as a fan of women’s golf, I wanted to see women play Augusta National.

Today the announcement came! Perhaps this announcement was not the one that women professional golfers hoped for but the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship is monumental for women’s golf. Here is the post from Twitter:

Masters Announcement on Twitter

Augusta National Tweet – Women’s Amateur Championship

The event being conducted within the same time frame as Drive, Chip and Putt and The Masters is excellent! The event will be held right before DCP (the wonderful golf championship for young golfers). Just imagine a young girl participating in DCP, watching the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship and knowing that one day (if she works hard) she may be playing the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship!

Of course, the big question for the LPGA is what does this mean for the ANA Inspiration? Will the top female amateurs, who normally play the ANA Inspiration, now have to choose between the two events? My guess is the LPGA will move the ANA (perhaps the week before the new amateur event). After all, it would be a communications manager’s dream story line – promoting the opportunity to watch the top amateur female golfers playing in the ANA Inspiration who will be then playing in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship the following week.  And if the ANA is after the event, the LPGA promotes the winner of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur playing in the LPGA’s first major of the year. I say it’s a win/win for the LPGA (unless they do not move the date of the ANA)

I can’t wait until 2019 when I can watch the inaugural Augusta National Amateur Women’s Championship.

It’s a good day for women’s golf!

Women of the Golf Channel (2018 Edition)

CLICK TO SEE 2023 UPDATE

I find it interesting that my post Women of the Golf Channel is always a top visited page (even though it was written back in 2012). A lot has changed with the on-air talent so I thought I’d write an update.

From my post on March 8 2012:

Only two of the six women I highlighted in my previous post are still with Golf Channel. They are Kelly Tilghman and Lauren Thompson.

(1) Kelly Tilghman has a bio on the Golf Channel site but to be honest I watch a lot of Golf Channel and golf tournament coverage and I don’t see her that much except for “Life From” during major championships.

(2) Lauren Thompson is a co-host on Morning Drive. Back in 2012 she seemed to be a fill-in on-air talent for Holly Sonders (who left Morning Drive and went to FOX in 2014). Now Thompson is a key member of the morning team. You can read her full bio on the Golf Channel Website.

More Great Women on Golf Channel:

If you go to the bio page for TV personalities for Golf Channel you will see 11 women listed which is wonderful. I would break the list into two groups: On-air TV show personalities (e.g., Morning Drive, Golf Channel, etc.) and golf tournament coverage talent that do the on-air analysis for the tour coverage on Golf Channel.

As I did in my 2012 post, I am going to list just a few of the 11 women. At the end of the post is a list of links for the bios of all the women on Golf Channel’s website.

chantel-mccabe-golfchannel(1) Chantel McCabe is my new favorite on-air personality and seems to be the “go to person” for golf channel. By that I mean, McCabe is on Golf Central, Morning Driving, does interviews at PGA and LPGA tournaments, and does digital work for their website. It makes sense to me that the leadership at the golf channel would tap her for so many jobs because she is great on air. I like her style, her voice, she asks good questions, and she has a good sense of humor.

She is a seasoned reporter with experience working for FOX sports prior to joining the Golf Channel and was a reporter for a local television station in Springfield MA. She also scores points with me because she is a New England Patriots fan.

paigemackenzie_320x400(2) Paige Mackenzie is a co-host on Morning Drive. She joined Morning Drive while she was still on the LPGA Tour. The reasons I really like her is because she is very down to earth and relatable! For example, she chooses on-air outfits that any woman might wear. What I mean by that is sometimes (not always) other women, like Bailey Mosier, are so into fashion that their outfits seem over-the-top for a golf morning show.

I also enjoy Mackenzie’s tips when she does the “Watch and Learn” segments on Morning Drive. In these segments she reviews a player’s swing or a specific shot of a player from yesterday’s golf tournaments and explains what we can learn from it.

karenstupples_320x400(3) Karen Stupples is an on-course reporter and analyst for LPGA tour coverage. Stupples played on the LPGA and LET (Ladies European Tour) for 15 years and is the 2004 Women’s British Open Champion. She had an albatross (a 2 on a par 5) which you can watch in this Golf Channel video flashback.

I always find her insights interesting and her personality comes through even though you only hear her voice during coverage. She is funny and I often enjoy the banter with the other on-air analysts.

Golf Channel Bios

This would be a long blog post if I reviewed every women so below is a convenient chart with each woman’s name linked to their official bio on the Golf Channel website.

On-air Personalities Golf Tournament Coverage
Cara Banks Kay Cockerill
Lisa Cornwell Judy Rankin
Paige Mackenzie Karen Stupples
Chantel Mccabe Social Media Host for Tournaments
Bailey Mosier Alexandra O’Laughlin
Kelly Tilghman
Lauren Thompson

 

Lifestyle Ship Sticks Ads Get My Thumbs Up

It’s amazing how commercials really can shape your view of a product, service, or company. I have always thought that Ship Sticks (a service that will ship your golf clubs so you don’t have to lug them through an airport) was a great idea but I hated their commercials. In fact, I hated them so much that it tarnished my view of their brand.

Ship Sticks anywhere

The first one that really bothered me was an ad with a beautiful women at her door talking to a ship sticks delivery man picking up clubs. The joke of the ad was a male voice coming from inside a golf bag asking “Honey, are we there yet?” My reaction to this ad was that it was insulting to men. And I wondered if male golfers found the ad funny? Also, I have no problem with beautiful women selling product but I think the overt exposure of the woman’s cleavage in this ad is gratuitous and using this tactic is just plain lazy. If you haven’t seen it, you can view the “Ship Sticks Anywhere” for yourself.

Ship Sticks LarryThe next ad that seemed to run a lot on TV was called “Larry” which featured three co-workers giving a man a hard time for not having his clubs at the airport. Again, I thought to myself, do men really want to be portrayed as idiots (the three men questioning their co-worker)? At least “Larry” looked at the three men like they were idiots. Both these ads try to use humor but to me the ads are sophomoric and annoying.

I assume the ad agency presented the leadership of Ship Sticks all the demographic data that would indicate these commercials would be successful. Perhaps they are but I always thought the #1 Rule in advertising was don’t insult your customer; and 80 percent of golfers are male. Of course, I am a woman and have no idea if men find the portrayal of the man hiding in the bag and three co-workers insulting or funny.

Anyway, I am not writing because of the ads I dislike. I am writing because of the new direction of their commercials with two ads I recently saw on TV that I like.

The new ads use what I believe is a lifestyle approach focusing on things that golfers actually can relate to in their own golf lives. First is “Challenges” (see below) which shows images of bucket list golf destinations (with a voice over about ship sticks service). It might be viewed as boring or basic but if you are a golfer it catches your eye and makes you day dream (even if only for a few seconds) of playing those courses.

 

The other new ad that I like is “4 Buddies” (see below). Every golfer loves a great golf trip with their friends. Obviously, the reason I like this one if because women are the “buddies’ in the ad. Too many times I have seen golf commercials, online articles or print ads that are written as if only men take buddy trips. Not true! Yes, the majority of buddy trips are taken by men but I know many women golfers that take buddy trips. Now I think the ad will also catch the eye of male viewers because the women are young and beautiful (nothing wrong with that but I would surmise that most women taking golf buddy trips are a bit older).

 

Bottom line, I’m just one woman golfer but a smart marketer knows the “power of the purse.”  Personally, my opinion is that these ads appeal to a much broader customer base and improved the brand image of Ship Sticks; and I might even try their service when I take my next golf trip.

 

My Golf Journey – Overcoming my fear of playing with strangers

Golf is Hard

It is common knowledge that golf is hard and anyone who plays the game knows that anxious feeling on the first tee. New or less skilled golfers often describe golf as intimidating and pray they avoid cringe-worthy moments in front of other golfers. And for women golfers add the crap shoot factor of possibly being paired with men who do not hide the fact their round was just ruined by your presence in their foursome. For me the anxiety created from feelings of intimidation often felt overwhelming. And, for years I let my anxiety of playing golf with strangers keep me from enjoying the sport I love.

Source of My Fear

As a young girl I watched golf on television but it never occurred to me that I could play golf because I didn’t know anyone that actually played the game. In my late-twenties I met my ex-husband, a golfer with an eight handicap, and my golf journey began.

My ex-husband went on a business trip to Japan. He was gone for a month so I got clubs and took lessons. Besides teaching me swing basics, the golf pro gave me tips for playing with my husband (e.g., play fast, pick up your ball after your hit your drive and hit your second shot from where your husband’s drive lands) and for my last lesson he took me on the course to teach me golf etiquette.  Above all the pro told me “Don’t be that golfer that plays slow, takes too many swings, or is clueless about what is going on around them.” I knew exactly what he meant because my ex-husband would complain about “that golfer” when he talked about players in his Tuesday night golf league. All the tips were great but the message “don’t be that golfer” was probably not the best thought to put in someone’s head who already had a tendency to care too much about what other people think.

In the beginning I only played with my ex-husband and he was very supportive when we played alone. I played fast, ready golf and I had excellent golf etiquette. However, when we were paired with other golfers, my ex-husband made me feel uncomfortable. On the first tee, he would excessively reassure the other golfers that I wouldn’t slow them down, or he would pick up my ball even if I was not slowing anyone down. I have one clear memory of a golfer whispering to me, “Don’t let your husband pick up your ball. You’re doing fine and not holding us up. Play your own game.” Instead of feeling grateful for his support, I just felt embarrassed. Of course, these experiences sewed the seeds of my fear of playing with strangers.

After my marriage ended, I only played golf with two female friends. My fear kept me from playing golf when my friends were not available. At one point I joined a women’s golf association hoping for the opportunity to play golf in a less intimidating environment. Unfortunately the few times I played, the women in my foursome were seasoned players and not very welcoming. Instead of finding women in the chapter that were more welcoming, I just felt stressed and went back to only playing with my two best friends. Even with my friends, if a stranger joined our group my anxiety went through the roof.

I moved to a new state for a job and did not know anyone. I knew if I wanted to play golf I had to address my fear. I knew “getting out of my head” was part of the solution but telling myself not to worry wasn’t going to cut it.  I needed something tangible to focus on to improve my game which would boost my confidence and hopefully reduce my anxiety. My tangible issue, a reason I felt I could work on, was the lack of distance in my game.

Create and Work a Plan

My plan was simple. (1) Find a good teaching pro and I defined “good” as someone I felt comfortable with and who taught in a way that fit how I learned. (2) Practice what I learned in my lessons. (3) Force myself to play with strangers.

I found a great pro, Mike Havay at Quail Brook Golf Course in Somerset New Jersey. I knew from my first lesson he was a great fit for me because he was honest about the work it would take to meet my goals. As we worked together that first day he explained the first swing change he wanted me to work on in four different ways, after which Mike said to me “you are a very visual learner.” Bingo!

Basically. we had to completely rebuild my swing. I was not offended when Mike described my swing as a “typical beginner women’s swing” (even though I had been playing golf for a number of years). My swing was over-the-top, steep and all arms. My driver and woods went about the same distance (and not very far) because I wasn’t creating any power.

I worked hard at rebuilding my swing. After each lesson with Mike I would sit in my car and put notes into my phone. I would go to the range after work to practice before my next lesson. In the off season I would swing a club in my house. By the end of the second golf season Mike told me it was time for new clubs! I was so excited because I knew that meant my new swing was consistent.

During the time I was rebuilding my swing I joined the local chapter of Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) which was the golf association I had joined but never really participated in while living in Boston. I played in the Tuesday night league and attended a few weekend outings. I also joined the golf club at work and forced myself to play in work golf outings which was very stressful because many of the staff played college golf. Playing in my first work golf outing I was paired with a woman that played from the back tees, hit her drive 230+ yards and had a 0.7 handicap. I hit my drive about 130 yards (with roll) and my handicap was 34. Talk about triggering anxiety!

You would think that after two years I would be completely cured of my fear. I had made great strides! I had no stress playing with golfers I did not know at work or in my EWGA chapter. I even played competitive golf (e.g., EWGA championship events and work championship events). But the reality was I still could not get myself to signup for a tee time as a single.

Every week in my lessons, Mike reassured me that I was a good golfer and I just need to go play with strangers. He said you may get paired with guys that don’t want to play with you but that’s not about you (they’re just jerks) so don’t let them get in your head. He told me to remember every golfer has a bad shot, a bad hole or even a bad day. That’s just golf and no one is judging you. If anything, most golfers just hope they don’t catch a struggling player’s bad mojo and find their own game going south. The only thing golfers hate is the same thing you hate – slow players or players that display bad golf etiquette. After his mental coaching, I took the leap and booked my very first tee time as a single.

Weeks later I was taking a lesson with Mike, two men in a golf cart (making the turn) stopped and said “Hi Catherine! Remember us? We played a few weeks ago.” Then they said to Mike “She’s a lot of fun to play with but don’t make her any better or she’ll beat us!”  They drove off and Mike said to me “In all my years of teaching I have never had any golfers stop and make comments about one of my students. And certainly not male golfers about a female student. You need to realize how big this moment is for you.” I just laughed. Looking back at that moment, I now recognize it was a big deal.

Results

As golfers we always look at our numbers. I track greens in regulation (GIR), putts and other parts of my game to discover areas to improve but how I play (my score) is really the ultimate measure. I typically shoot in the mid-to-low 90s but twice this year I broke 90 (breaking 90 was a goal I set for 2017).  I also set a goal to get my handicap to 18 this golf season and I exceeded that goal (handicap chart below).  I am thrilled with my numbers but overcoming my fear is my greatest result!

My Handicap History 2017

This year, four years after I made my decision to address my fear, I have no anxiety going to the course and playing as a “single” or being paired with men to fill out a  foursome. Sure I have the first tee jitters that most golfers feel but that’s normal. I have bad days and feel a bit embarrassed (and frustrated) when I play poorly but I know all golfers have those feelings when their game leaves them.

The overwhelming anxiety is gone. I feel excited to get to the course. It saddens me that I still have to face the “cold shoulder” when I get paired with some men but I don’t let it get in my head. After a few holes the guys usually get very chatty with me trying to make up for the blatant disdain they displayed on the first tee. And, playing more as a single I have experience more nice guys that like playing with women then men that jump to conclusions about playing with me just because of my gender.

One last important metric – rounds played. The active golf season for where I live is April 1 to October 30 or approximately 30 weeks. In 2013, I only played 12 rounds of golf compared to 2017 in which I have played 40 rounds of golf. My 2017 rounds could be inflated because of the great weather this year – playing golf in November and the handicap season was extended to November 15. The point is, I played!

 

“Lydia Ko goes Pro” video gets four stars

It has been many months since my last post because I have had a lot of life changes in the past nine months (no, I did not have a child).  I have moved to a new state for a dream job! As we all know with a new job and a big move other things fall to the wayside.  But now I am more settled in my job and new home; and of course fall is here (so less daylight hours to play golf), which makes it a logical time to focus on my blog.

I wanted to start with something light and fun!  And Lydia Ko’s announcement that she is turning pro is just the ticket!  I read that she decided to release a video rather than do a press conference and sure enough she tweeted out to her followers the link to the video on October 22.  Here is the video for your enjoyment:

I give the video four stars because it is entertaining (Lydia speed golfing) and shows her personality (e.g., she laughs a lot); and it certainly beats a boring press conference video.

I have said in a previous post that I am not a fan of the younger and younger players we see in professional events.  And that a player like Michele Wie is a cautionary tale because she is only 23 and struggles to find her game.  But, Lydia Ko seems to be a very poised and talented young women.  Ko has won a number of professional tournaments and made history winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open in 2012 and 2013. As the press has pointed out, Ko has left over $1 Million in money on the table as an amateur.

Now we just have to wait for the LPGA Commissioner, Mike Whan, to approve her request to waive the rule requiring LPGA professionals to be at least 18 years old.  The waiver is a  “fiat accompli” given the popularity of Ko, the fact she has already won multiple professional events as an amateur, and Whan waived the age requirement for Lexi Thompson after she won an LPGA event.

As a professional, Ko will face a new kind of scrutiny because everyone will be watching to see if she falters under the “pressure” of being a pro. Time and time again a young amateur golfer is hailed as the next “Tiger or Annika” and seems to lose their talent (or maybe free spirit) as a professional.  Only time will tell if Ko is able win as much as a professional as she did as an amateur.

Hopefully, she will have a smooth transition from the “darling of the amateur ranks” to a regular pro on tour. Bottom line, I know I will be watching to see how she plays in her first tournament as a professional.

Michelle Wie’s 2013 season is off to a rough start

Michelle Wie is a very popular LPGA player.  She really made her name as an amateur and was viewed as the golden girl who would help rejuvenate the struggling brand of women’s golf when she turned pro in 2005 (note: her LPGA Rookie year is 2009.)  Fast forward to 2013 and Michelle Wie is still a popular player on the LPGA tour but she has not achieved the “greatness” bestowed on her as an Amateur.

In the press this week Michelle Wie spoke about all the hard work she had done during the off-season — working on every part of her game.  Unfortunately at the Women’s Australian Open this week Wie missed the cut by 2 strokes or 1-over par.  That might not seem bad but it is awful compared to the leader (after two rounds) at 15-under par.  So Wie starts her 2013 year where she ended her 2012 season — missing cuts.

2012 really was a horrible year for Wie. She played 23 tournaments and missed the cut 10 times.  We could state this in a positive way and say she made the cut (or played the weekend and earned money) 13 out of 23 times (or 56% of the time) but that is still awful.

Let’s look at some statistics for the last three years.

Chart of Stats for Wie

Michelle Wie has never been a great putter and in 2012 she had no confidence.  She would stand over a putt for an eternity and still miss it.  Wie has always been long off the tee (she is ranked 4 in overall driving distance) but being long does not matter when you look at Wie’s greens in regulation (GIR) and driving accuracy statistics which are poor.  In general, the statistics I have looked at indicate that many of the top players have GIRs between 72% and 76%. The top players also have putting averages below 30 (the really great putter’s have averages between 25 to 27).  Let’s look at Wei’s statistics against two other American stars.

Stats Comparision ChartOne last comparison (for fun) — Michelle Wie was in the LPGA rookie class of 2009.  Another member of the 2009 class, Jiyai Shin.  Shin won the Women’s Australian Open this week beating Yani Tseng (#1 Ranked women golfer in the world) and Lydia Ko (#1 ranked amateur golfer in the world).  Shin is also the current RICOH Women’s British Open Champion.  In 2012, Shin played 18 LPGA tournaments and made the cut in all 18 events. In 2010, Shin was the #1 player in the world rankings for 16 weeks.  Shin is a serious contender in 2013.

Will Michelle Wie ever achieve the success of, Jiyai Shin, her LPGA rookie year classmate?  Will Wei regain some of the glory of her amateur career?  Will she find the success so many people expected of her since turning pro?  Only time will tell but it crossed my mind today that maybe time is running out for Wie to achieve “greatness.”  Given Wie is only 23 years old that might seem like a ridiculous statement but the LPGA is full of young talented players so it is easy to jump to the conclusion that Wie may have missed her time to dominate.  My hope for Wie is that she finds her game soon.

2013 PGA Merchandise Show – Morning Drive and LPGA News

The ability to follow the PGA Merchandise show from the comfort of your own home is amazing!  I am here in the cold Northeast (seven degrees this morning) and seeing updates on Twitter, Facebook, Ustream and more.

The Golf Channel Morning Drive show and the LPGA both started tweeting early in the morning that big announcements were coming.  Given I am a fan of both, I was curious to see what was “big” to each organization.

Morning Drive Announcement

The Morning Drive show is expanding to seven days a week.  Great!  They are adding to the cast.  Most of co-anchor additions make sense because they have been on the show or are members of the golf channel.  The one odd addition is Ahmad Rashad. He is an NBC broadcast “star” so I get that but what does he know about golf?  I guess we will find out soon.

The other big reveal was the new set of the show.  Below is a photo of the old set.

Morning Drive Set

TV Screen Shot of Holly Sonders on Morning Drive Set. Click image to Enlarge.

Now one thing I always liked about the current set is that it seemed “cozy” and had lots of golf memorabilia and “chotskies” on the set.  I also think the intimate feel of the set added to the relaxed style of the co-anchors.  It never felt like a “formal” news show like the evening recap show, Golf Central.

The Golf Channel provided a photo gallery of the new set.  If you click on the photo below it will take you to a cool time-lapse video of the construction of the new set.

Click on Photo to see a time-lapse video of the construction of the new set.

Click on Photo to see a time-lapse video of the construction of the new set.

The new set and staff is a clear indication of the success of the show.  I will keep an open mind but I hope what I loved most about the show does not get lost in the new high-gloss set.

LPGA Announcement

In a previous post, The LPGA’s Marketing Challenge, I noted some concerns about the tour’s perception in the American market.  Basically, the LPGA is a global tour but the American market needs a new star which I felt was Stacy Lewis.  I am happy to see that the tour is now promoting Stacy Lewis.  Stacy certainly made it easier for them by winning Player of the Year.  I am happy to see the management at the LPGA finally embracing Stacy Lewis as a tour star.

The LPGA also deserves credit for figuring out a way to capitalize on the statement they have been emphasizing all year that they are a “global tour.”  I was thrilled with the announcement of the “International Crown” by the LPGA.  It is a new match play tournament that will debut in 2014.  The tournament will be 8 countries vying for the crown. I also like the promotional video.

And to my point earlier about promoting Stacy Lewis, there is a nice video of Stacy talking about the new tournament.

I like the International Crown for two reasons.  First, the LPGA did not just follow the PGA tour and create a “Presidents Cup” for the ladies.  The Presidents Cup is the USA against the rest of the world (minus Europe).  Second, it ties nicely to the fact that golf will be part of the Olympics in 2016 and what do we all love to do during the Olympics? Cheer for our country.  The fact fans love to cheer for their country should make the International Crown a big hit among golf fans; and hopefully, bring new fans to the LPGA.