LPGA Child Care Helps the Tour Perfect its Long Game
One thing they don't have to think about -- who will look after the baby.
Just check out the news from ESPN: since 1993 the tour has been trucking child care behind players, bringing teachers and equipment to tour locations, and making working and parenting possible. "Knowing that my child would be well taken care," golfer Sydnee Michaels told ESPN, "was such a relief."
The focus on family makes sense. The LPGA tour needs women and women want to have babies. Child care ensures that motherhood doesn't come at the expense of career. "We [at the LPGA] want to provide opportunities for our players to pursue their dreams through the game of golf," one LPGA spokesman told ESPN recently, noting a baby boom will add six or seven infants to the program next year. "If having a family is part of that pursuit, we want to ensure that we have programming in place to help them achieve that."
Bringing Golfing Mothers Back to WorkThe approach is an uplifting counterpoint to the World Tennis Association, where top-ranked working mothers struggle to maintain their status after a baby, and where players are currently fighting for the kind of support offered to golfers. "I want the WTA and the women's tennis tour to be a pioneer in having excellent maternity leave and policies that our athletes feel comfortable with taking their time and starting a family," two-time Grand Slam champion and new mom Victoria Azarenka told ESPN recently.
It's all made the sports world an unlikely avatar for the highs and low of corporate return-to-work policies. Modern elite athletes -- like women throughout industries -- are delaying childbirth until the prime of their careers. New mom Serena Williams -- currently marching toward the U.S. Open semi-finals a year after her first baby -- is 36. Two-time golf champion Cristie Kerr (who has a 4--year-old son) is 40. Kerr has won five tournaments since becoming a parent, wrote ESPN recently. "I wouldn't be able to do this without the day care," she told ESPN.
LPGA Child Care - A Strategy for Today's Short Game and Tomorrow's Long GameAnd it's not just the LPGA's short game at stake. Today's successful golfing moms are the role models showing tomorrow's how it's done. And the newbies are taking note. "When I found out I was pregnant," 30-year-old Sydnee Michaels told ESPN, "I was immediately able to say, 'I've seen other moms on tour do it and excel,' so I knew it wasn't a death sentence for my career." So a well-worn path paves the tour's long game as well.
The LPGA's success is instructive -- and not just for athletes. On and off the field, the old victory photo of a winning man shouting out to his wife holding the baby is out of date. Increasingly today's MVPs ARE the moms; they're simply not sitting on the sidelines anymore.
So helping women to successfully work and mother?
Let's just say it's all par for the course.
PS. A big shoutout to the Bright Horizons' director and team behind the LPGA child care program -- brava!