The “dream life” of a lady professional golfer
The life of a woman professional golfer seems very glamorous on the outside, between globetrotting the world, high potential revenues and the exciting ideas of meeting successful people. However, reality can often prove to be very different than expected.
In order to succeed like top athletes, women professional must maintain a very disciplined lifestyle. In other words, they must accept high intensity practice sessions while living the life of an ascetic. The tournament calendar along with all the travelling involved (23 tournaments in 17 different countries for the European Tour and 33 tournaments in 14 countries for the American Tour) require an exemplary hygiene. For some it comes quite easily, for others it is more difficult. All the players at that level are talented so what does make a difference is the desire to comply with such a rigor. The improvement in the average score on the LPGA over the past ten years, speaks for itself with a drop of 1,3 strokes on a par 72 and 2 strokes for a par 71 (LPGA data).
Moreover, the tournament agenda does not match the rest of the population's whose holidays are usually taken during the high golfing season that is to say in the summer time. It is then even difficult to maintain friendships, not to mention a romantic relationship. Engaging in such a relationship is indeed challenging when one is to travel so much and to have one's boyfriend as a caddie quickly finds its limits. Many women realise the need to swiftly modify that choice not to jeopardize one's relationship.
Later on to be able to start a family requires a flawless organisation and the perfect babysitter, eager to travel the world. Nevertheless when the children are about to enter school, things change drastically and all of a sudden, the mother has to be home. The great Patty Sheehan, 36 victories on the LPGA and mother of two, summarizes it well: " in the end, we have the feeling of doing nothing correctly; we are never there for the family and we do not practice enough either" (Golfweek, November 2014). On the LPGA, only 8 players are still on Tour after 20 years!
Another difficulty to be found in all sports nowadays is the ever younger players turning professional. So fine tuned and eager to go on Tour, they leave school too early to realise only later that education is part of a successful career and an enjoyable life.
In any case, it is important to differentiate the LPGA from the LET since the first one accounts for 61,6 million dollars in earnings while the second one for only 11 million euros. Prize money is different, media coverage is different and the quality of the courses is unparalleled. Mostly because there are many more players willing to access the LPGA, this makes the level of play so much higher.
Over time, only a few "wonder women" have managed to juggle family life with victories on Tour; such are American players Nancy Lopez (48 victories), Julie Inkster (31 victories) or Scottish player Catriona Matthew (4 victories including the British Open). Others managed to set their biological clock so that they got pregnant right after stopping their professional career; Hall of famer Annika Sörenstam (72 victories) and Lorena Ochoa (27 victories) among the most notorious. They indeed succeeded in raising a family and starting a new career; the first one in golf course architecture (most recently in Estonia) and the creation of a golf academy and the second one in getting involved with charity back in Mexico.
So yes, it is quite an ordeal for women to juggle family and professional life and in fact this might even be one of their biggest challenge!