My daughter, Kennedy Anne (age 8) has been playing golf for four years. The past two of those in high level competition. Her dream is to be a professional golfer, and has held Natalie Gulbis in her heart as her favorite player since she first saw her in person at a charity golf tournament in our hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. As an incentive for her to do her best and reach for the stars during the fall junior golf tour she was playing in, we promised her a trip to an LPGA event to see Natalie again. Well, she won the coveted title, Player of the Year, in that tour for 2011 and qualified for the World Championships. So, we made good on our promise to take her to an event. We chose THE event of the year, and planned our trip to the CME Group Titleholders at Grand Cypress. As excited as Kennedy Anne was to be going to her first LPGA event, she was overwhelmed with excitement when she was invited to be a part of the 2012 “See Why It’s Different Out Here” LPGA ad campaign commercial shoot during the week of the tournament.
I knew it was going to be a special week for Kennedy, but I have to say that the staff, the players and everyone associated with the LPGA and Grand Cypress made it extraordinary from the moment we turned into the club.
The commercial shoot on the first day of our week was impressive. The LPGA staff, producers and talent seemed to have a natural rapport and the experience was tremendous. The next day, Kennedy was invited to hang out behind the scenes while the LPGA players shot their parts to the commercial. Again, what a fabulous experience. Kennedy watched every detail. The producers included her in the process and made her feel important, but the players embraced Kennedy Anne and seemed to almost “pull her in” to the LPGA family. The players all have such great relationships with each other, that it really impressed upon Kennedy the idea that although these girls compete against each other, at the end of the day, they are still friends. And that’s what matters and makes memories for a lifetime.
Later that evening, we got a message that Natalie Gulbis wanted to invite Kennedy Anne to walk inside the ropes with her during the Pro-Am the next day. A dream come true for Kennedy…walking inside the ropes with her idol. That morning, Kennedy Anne showed up on the practice putting green and helped Natalie practice her putts. This was a job Kennedy took very seriously, and Natalie and her caddie couldn’t have been better hosts. Once the round started, Kennedy wasn’t treated as a tag-along. She was included in “Team Natalie.” With all of the graciousness in the world, Natalie Gulbis treated Kennedy as a fellow player and made her the happiest little girl golfer ever. They talked between shots, Natalie gave Kennedy putting tips, and I was in tears the entire round watching my daughter living a dream.
The next few days were the tournament rounds. We planned our days based on watching the players that Kennedy Anne had been with during the commercial shoot. In addition to Natalie, Kennedy Anne found a special connection with Morgan Pressel. And even though both of these players were in competition mode, they made the effort to seek Kennedy Anne out in the gallery and talk to her. Talk about feeling special! Morgan made Kennedy feel like the most important fan she had. We are LPGA fans for life!
In Kennedy Anne’s words, “That was the best week EVER! When can we go to another LPGA event?”
Topics: For the Love of the Fans