Sharing Your Story Is An Act of Trust

Reflections on Two Years of Drive On

“We wanted to celebrate the attributes of strength, focus and perseverance that have built the LPGA over more than 70 years. To give voice to the fire that you feel inside when you discover your passion and your gift. We wanted to share the stories of people whose courage and accomplishments inspire us, on and off the golf course. And, to give a name to the determination, resilience and sheer grit that it takes to chase your dreams. We called it: Drive On.”

I remember standing on the stage at the JW Marriott in Phoenix. We had run a preview for players on Tuesday night, March 19, 2019 before the full launch for media and special guests the following morning. We’d chosen The Founders Cup to introduce the LPGA’s brand refresh, Drive On, the perfect week to connect the past with the present and the future. As the lights dimmed and the screen went dark, I remember feeling a rush of excitement, uncertainty, optimism and a little terror.

Drive On, and the video that introduced it, This Is For Every Girl, was a different kind of message for the LPGA. It’s less about golf and more about the golfer - who she is, where she’s from and her “why” in life. In short, Drive On is about the stories behind the players.

Storytelling is at the heart of our common humanity. It’s how we communicate and connect. Drive On is about creating that bond; about bringing more fans and sponsors to the LPGA, and, ultimately, changing the face of golf.

That feeling of excitement and optimism when I took the stage in Phoenix came from believing that our players’ stories would have an impact. The uncertainty and terror came from not knowing whether or not our players would embrace the idea and make it their own.

Sharing your story is an act of trust. In a sport where every weakness is exposed; in a social media environment that can be harsh and unforgiving; in a world where images are carefully curated, would our players be willing to share both their dreams and their struggles?
It turns out, the answer was, yes! Our players got it. Authenticity and diversity are what make the LPGA special. Our players’ journeys are as different as the individual. For every player who learned the game on manicured country club fairways, there’s one who learned hitting into a net, on a driving range or, yes, in LPGA USGA Girls Golf.

What are the results two years into Drive On? This Is For Every Girl has been viewed more than 11 million times on social media and millions more times on TV. All indicators are up: viewership and engagement; brand strength; sponsor interest in the LPGA; and women and girls in golf.

Drive On is a journey. And the brand platform has taken it to places we never imagined two years ago. When it was safe to resume play after the COVID lockdown, it was only right that the new events added to the LPGA schedule were called Drive On Championships.

Our players, fans and sponsors have adopted Drive On, whether it’s LPGA Founder Shirley Spork taking her place at The Founders Cup, the enthusiastic fans at the 2019 ShopRite Classic or seeing world number-one Jin Young Ko rocking Drive On socks at the CME Tour Championship.

But the heart and soul of Drive On will always be the stories. We’ve featured a broad cross-section of players and LPGA members. From rookies to the top names on tour; people ranging from 14 years old to 50; from 4-foot-9 to over 6 feet tall. They are players from golf-rich countries and players who are the "firsts" from their nations or tribes.

Our stories are like our signature; uniquely our own. For all their diversity, some common themes emerged. Here are a few reflections on two years of Drive On stories:

No one does it alone.

In this most individual sport, every player has a person or group of people she credits for her success. Most often it’s a family member. Sometimes it’s a coach. But it is always the person who believed in her when she lost her motivation or self-belief.

Every story is a love story.

Love of golf is what binds these Drive On stories. Golf as a gateway to opportunity. Golf as an obsession. Golf as a source of joy and heartbreak. But like most love stories, in the end, love wins.

Play for something bigger than yourself.

Most of the players embraced their role in creating dreams in others. Everyone talked about the LPGA player who inspired them. Now, they want to be that role model, that inspiration, for others.

Never give up.

No matter what they called it, every player talked about never, ever quitting. Drive On was a big part of their stories. Lizette Salas said it well. “Why do I Drive On? Because I was taught at a very young age that the struggle and the dream is worth it.”

"It’s not a story. This is my life.”

Those words are from Sophia Popov as we talked about her Drive On feature. I know what she means.  "Story" has an air of fiction; not so with these features. Every player, every person, has a story. Some are jaw-dropping and heartwarming. Some are less extraordinary but no less meaningful. Authenticity and diversity have always been at the heart of the LPGA.  And these stories of our players and members are resonating well beyond golf and sports.

Sharing your story is an act of trust. Thank you to the players who took the leap of faith to open up and give meaning to Drive On. And to our fans and sponsors, thank you for honoring their stories with your trust, your admiration and your support.

Drive On is a journey and we've only just begun.