I’ve been anxiously waiting for my Michelle Wie West LPGA hoodie to arrive and I was getting a little worried until I checked online and learned it has sold out twice since launching in April! I am in good company and probably not the only one wondering!
This success is just great – profits from the hoodie’s sale will benefit two specific charities – the Renee Powell Grant and the Clearview Legacy Foundation. Renee was the 2nd black woman to play on the LPGA tour and her father, Bill Powell, built Clearview golf course in Canton, Ohio, when he returned from WWII and found courses closed to him because of discrimination. It is the only course in the U.S. designed, built, owned and operated by an African American. Renee’s charity provides grants to LPGA-USGA Girls Golf programs that are inclusive of black communities, while the Clearview Legacy helps to preserve and maintain the course for future generations.
Wie West says she got the idea from the success of the WNBA’s orange hoodie. “I loved how NBA players and other athletes and celebrities wore the WNBA hoodie. It was a very visible statement saying, ‘I support women in sports.’ I wanted to create an opportunity like that for the LPGA.” It’s working – PGA golfers like Ian Poulter and Justin Thomas have worn one and I was especially happy to see a few of my Golden State Warriors sporting them – thanks Damion Lee, Kent Bazemore, and Steph Curry!
Congratulations to Michelle! Increasing awareness, support and opportunities for more girls to learn the game of golf are super important goals that I certainly share. It’s why I’m doing my small part to help spread the message by writing about it.
I love golf. I started playing in college – I kept coming home to an empty house and my parents on the course – and I quickly became obsessed. I am a competitive person, so I took lessons and practiced, a lot. Eventually I competed on the Golf Channel’s amateur tour. I still play as often as I can, and one of the bright spots of the pandemic was that golf is an outdoor sport, so even with many new protocols, it was something still available to do. The benefits of playing golf are many. Aside from the physical benefits of exercise it helps build confidence, teaches patience, rewards hard work, and improves critical thinking skills and resiliency. Oh, and there’s also some math involved!
As a businesswoman though, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge one of the most important benefits to getting more women involved – golf is the game of business. Golf is interwoven into the fabric of business culture. An afternoon on the links can be an incredible networking opportunity. Playing in a foursome with the boss is one traditional way of getting noticed, building relationships, and ultimately getting ahead. Women want and need to be included in this traditional business arena. Achieving parity on the golf course will help in breaking barriers to the boardroom or management; you know, achieving equality in general in the business world.
Ensuring that young girls everywhere have that opportunity is critical and the first step is simply learning the game. Golf is an expensive sport and the cost of equipment, lessons, and access to courses are all real barriers. Supporting charities that address these needs is important and the hoodie is doing that but there are other things we can do too. First, if you’re not a hoodie person, donate another way. Financial support of any kind is key. Just as important? Be an ambassador yourself. If you love the game of golf – share that love and your knowledge. Teach a young woman you know how to play. Donate your used equipment. Invite them to a driving range. Teach them how to putt. Explain the rules. Take your daughter to the club with you. When planning the golf outing at your family reunion, invite both your nephews and nieces. Don’t know any kids? Volunteer at one of the LPGA organizations.
What is important is that we both encourage girls to play and give them real opportunities to do so. Do all women need to play golf to get ahead? No. Not all men do either. But everyone should have the opportunity to try. We should encourage girls to see themselves as strong and capable and help them gain life skills they can use in business, and more. The LPGA is committed to this goal and Michelle Wie West has done her part to help. C’mon fellow golfers, and hoodie lovers everywhere, let’s do ours!
Is that a delivery truck I hear outside? I hope so.