Sadena Parks hasn’t played on the LPGA Tour since 2017. She earned her card in 2014 and has had some success on Tour − her best finish is a T11 in 2016 at the LPGA Volvik Championship − but in 2017, Parks only made four cuts in 19 events, lost her card and stepped away from the game completely. She began playing golf at nine years old, and after years and years of putting pressure on herself to perform, Parks desperately needed a break. But ahead of this week’s Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, Parks is back in full form. On June 2, she won THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Golf Invitational presented by Rocket Mortgage to earn an exemption into the event at Blythefield Country Club, a venue at which she’s always enjoyed competing.
“I took the time off to work on myself. So, it's the first LPGA event back. I'm amped, excited,” Parks said. “I earned this spot here, so I just want to hold onto that and carry on this week and see what happens. It just shows that the hard work that I'm doing, it's paying off.”
Parks said several of her fellow competitors were happy to see her return to LPGA competition this week. As one of the few African American players on Tour and just the fifth to earn membership in the history of the organization, Parks is something of a trailblazer. Though she understands that she is a role model to younger generations of Black golfers, Parks does not put pressure on herself to be a perfect example. In fact, the 32-year-old laughs that “she’s trouble” and knows that she doesn’t always “fit the mold.” But Parks remains unapologetically herself.
“Just being me and me being authentically me is the only, best way for me to succeed in this sport and achieve what I'm trying to accomplish,” she said. “But I do understand that there are people that look up to me and really want me to accomplish the goals that I have set out for myself. I really do want to make some good noise out here, just be a good example.”
Parks believes the best way she can impact the game is to succeed. Her ultimate goal? Be the first Black woman to win an event on the LPGA Tour. Though she has already achieved a lot of firsts as an African American golfer − she was the first African American woman to play golf at the University of Washington and the first Black woman to earn her LPGA Tour card through the Epson Tour − in five years’ time, Parks hopes to have achieved that ultimate first, irrevocably impacting the game.
“(Five years) looks like a lot of wins under my belt, a few majors under my belt. From there, who knows what that could do for women's golf,” she said. “What Tiger brought to the men's tour, my dad kind of instilled that in me. So that's my spark, is just to make sure that we all continue that legacy really.”