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 The information became outdated so I did a Women of Golf Channel (2018 Edition).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.


“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.

When will golf be a truly inclusive game?

When I told a new friend (who happens to be male) that I loved golf; he replied “You know what golf stands for?  (I thought here comes the joke all women hear when they say they have an interest in golf; wait for the punch line.  Here it comes.)  “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.”  I just rolled my eyes.  He laughed and said “I guess you’ve heard that joke.”  If you are curious…The origin of the term golf (according to the USGA Museum) is the Dutch word “kolf” meaning club.

I have a good sense of humor and know he was just joking but later in the evening I did think about the old Russian proverb — In every joke there is a bit of truth.  And, I would be in serious denial if I did not recognize the fact that there is still an exclusive aspect to my favorite sport.  Women are still (in many ways) second class citizens.

This year, Augusta National’s policy of not admitting female members, hit home even more.  Why?  Because IBM was the key sponsor and their CEO is a female; and all past CEO’s of key sponsors were offered membership at Augusta.  Of course, playing Augusta (let alone being a member) is just a dream for most of us (man or woman); but it would have been the perfect year for Augusta, “America’s mecca of golf,” to exemplify that golf is an “inclusive” game.

But what about the rest of the golf world?  Overall there are many great courses, instructors, and organizations that recognize the benefits of catering to women golfers.  But there is still a long way to go before women can go to any course and feel that they are as “valued” as their male counterparts.  And by “valued” I mean that women are not an afterthought.  Too often, my friends and I have tried a new course only to be disappointed by lousy amenities and poorly laid-out forward tees.

I do hope for the day when it is the norm that …

  1. All pro shops cater to women golfers.  Simple things like stocking ladies gloves and balls so I can grab them on the go.  Or decent rental clubs available specifically for women.
  2. All courses have forward tees that are as nice as the back tees (e.g. well marked, level, and well manicured.)  And, that ball washers and water at located by the forward tees too.
  3. All golf stores have an equal amount of “shelf space” allocated to women’s clothing, accessories, and equipment.

And although I have played with many very nice men there are many men that really don’t like women golfers.  It would be wonderful to have a future where men do not openly show disdain when a woman is put with their group.   After all, golf is a gentleman’s sport and being gracious to any additional member to your foursome is the decent thing to do.

Now, I am an optimist and do believe that the day will come when we no longer debate if golf is a truly inclusive game.  I do hope that it will be in my lifetime!  Until then, I will reward the courses, instructors, and stores that do make me feel welcomed by spending my golfing dollars with them!