It is a strange feeling not knowing when we might be able to safely compete again. As difficult as the news was to hear, I fully support Mike Whan and the LPGA in the decision to cancel/postpone the upcoming stretch of events after we had already cancelled three events in Asia. Looking back now, in the hours and days that followed the announcement, it was really the only call.
The LPGA has been ahead of the curve in the fight against the threat of COVID-19. I believe it is our duty as an organization to do everything in our power to stop the spread of the virus. With that comes preventing any kind of gathering to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, caddies, staff, volunteers and communities in which we play.
Over the last 15 years, I have traveled the world on the LPGA Tour, competed on courses in numerous countries, visited more airports than I can count, and stayed in so many hotels that sometimes I have trouble remembering my room number from week to week.
In visiting the same markets each year, I have found some of my favorite local small businesses. Every year in Arkansas I visit one of my favorite clothing stores, Ropa. In Portland, I always make a few trips to Elephant’s Delicatessen. In Palm Desert, Castelli’s is a given. And in Australia, I visit the same coffee shop nearly every day. I have made so many friends through my travels, whether it is the amazing host families who welcome me (and my dog Zoe!) into their homes, young fans who look forward to coming out year after year to see their favorite players, or the shop or restaurant owners that I frequent, I can’t help but think about how they are all suffering through this pandemic.
I think about the charities in the local communities that are impacted by the absence of the LPGA. Most events have large charitable programs in line with our sponsors’ missions, like Simply Give at the Meijer LPGA (who help fill the shelves of local food pantries), the local children’s hospital in the community where the CP Canadian Women’s Open plays each year, or the nearly 20 different local charities supported by the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. The commitment to their communities is amazing and most of these charities depend on the presence of the LPGA to continue to provide their services.
I think about the rookies on tour who have worked so hard to get to the pinnacle of the women’s game who haven’t been able to make their first check. I think about the financial strain on Epson Tour players (my sister, Madison, being one of them) who are trying to work their way onto the LPGA Tour. The basis of professional golf is fairly simple: if you don’t play, you don’t get paid. Neither do the caddies, coaches, physios, trainers, and other support staff who travel with our tour on a weekly basis. I think about both our event sponsors and those who sponsor individual players. They believe in using women’s golf to tell their story and I think about how this impacts their businesses. And I think about the courses we play and their staff, many of whom are unable to go to work today to feed their families.
For the time being, our courses here are still open, and experts say golf is a great way to get out and be active without fear of spreading the virus. So, for now, my sister and I will still be able to get in some practice so we will be ready when we get the “all clear” to get back to doing what we love.
In a world where we are always on the go, it is hard for us to be told to slow down. Don’t go anywhere. Stay home. And we are all struggling with it. My husband, Andy, and I have been separated as he continues to work as the chief revenue officer of DC United, the Major League Soccer team in Washington, D.C. Under normal circumstances, that time apart would not be a huge thing, but the uncertainty of not knowing what each new day might bring is challenging. This might very well be the longest I have ever been in one place. That in itself is mind boggling.
I am certainly thankful for my small gym at home. Maybe I will finally clean out the garage that I’ve been meaning to do forever. Or maybe I will become the world’s greatest chef (haha!) But we are all trying to make the best out of a stressful and difficult situation. Madison and I are acutely aware that we have traveled a good bit in the last week and have been keeping safe distances from everyone we know, especially our family and friends who are at high risk for the virus. We want to be part of the solution, not the problem.
Golf brings everyone together. It is truly a universal game. And when this is all over, I have no doubt that the LPGA will continue to bring people together and make a positive impact on the world, helping us all heal. When the “new normal” comes, the longest running women’s sports organization in the world, and its players, will be ready.