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March 18, 2015
THE MODERATOR:¬† Good morning, everyone.¬† Little girls, big dreams:¬† You can't do that, you're just a girl, dream on.¬† Words, phrases, stereo types, that keep little girls from following their dreams and realizing their potential.
That's where Girls Golf comes in.¬† Girls Golf is a place of inspiration.¬† It's a place where young girls gather first to learn the game of golf and then through golf learn life skills that are specific to young girls, like self‑esteem, confidence, and perseverance.
At Girls Golf, we empower girls, not only to follow their dreams, but to dream big.¬† This is the official kickoff to our little girls, big dreams campaign.¬† Thank you all for being here.
And let me tell you this is quite a production to get everybody up here on stage, but Girls Golf, we are so happy to be here in Phoenix for a couple of reasons.
First of all, our Girls Golf program was founded here in Phoenix by Sandy LaBauve who is a LPGA teaching and club professional member.¬† She was actually pregnant at the time and wanted a place where her daughter could play with other girls, sort of a club, and that started over 25 years ago, because Sandy, like myself and many others, grew up in programs where there were nine boys and only one girl.¬† So Girls Golf today, has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to Sandy and her vision and many others.
One of the things we want to talk about is the growth of Girls Golf.¬† Girls Golf pre‑LPGA Founders Cup had less than 5,000 girls engaged in Girls Golf.¬†
Thanks to Mike Whan's vision of honoring the founders, celebrating the present and paying it forward to the future, we have now over 50,000 girls involved in our Girls Golf program, which is an amazing growth.¬† And that growth has come for a couple of reasons.
First, because of the support of many of our partners that have come out of this Founders Cup event:¬† RR Donnelley, who is the title sponsor of this event, even though they are not involved with this event, they continue to support Girls Golf and thanks to our LPGA Tour professionals who donate their Pro‑Am dollars each week to our Girls Golf program.
And finally, our partner in LPGA‑USGA Girls Golf, the USGA, who has been our partner for more than 20 years. ¬†Right now, in fact, we have Beth Major with the USGA, thank you so much for your support.
This Sunday on the 18th green, LPGA‑USGA Girls Golf will be awarded that check and $1million to support our program.¬† So growth does come from dollars, but it also comes from partnering with like‑minded girls' organizations.¬† We've partnered with organizations like Girls in the Game, Girls in the Run and Girl Scouts.¬† This week we have already had a fun run and first swing clinic in partnership with Girls on the Run.
This Saturday we'll have a first clinic presented with the Girl Scouts and the goal is to introduce girls to the game of golf and then have them transition into the local programs and then we are so proud to parter in with those organizations.
And speaking of organizations, one of the main differences in LPGA‑USGA Girls Golf is the connection with the LPGA Tour and to have incredible role models like the four ambassadors we have here:¬† Our Engage Ambassador, Tiffany Joh; our Enrich Ambassador, Stacy Lewis; our Empower Ambassador, Brittany Lincicome; and Lizette Salas, our Energize Ambassador.
And you all are not seeing double.¬† We do have lookalikes up here and they are so excited to be up on stage with one of their role models.¬† What's the best thing about the women that we have up here on stage are that they are incredible role models to young girls who not only are here today but all over the country.
I know myself growing up, I sat in front of the television just mesmerized by my role model, Nancy Lopez, who will be here later this week to support Girls Golf and to play a nine‑hole exhibition.¬† But I wanted to be Nancy, and I know these girls want to be just like their role models.
So with that, we have a young girl with us today who is already a big dreamer, and she's actually the girl that won a contest we had to design our ticket here this week at our Founders Cup event.¬† So not only is she a great golfer, but she's also an incredible artist.
So Cynthia, if you can come up and bring your picture with you, this is Cynthia Lee, she comes all the way from New York.¬† Cynthia, if I understand correctly, is part of the program in Nassau county.¬† She's just started water colors and has won many art contests, and she told me she likes art just a little more than golf; although her coach at her Girls Golf has inspired her in golf, as well.¬† Now you've never been to Arizona, have you?
CYNTHIA LEE:¬† No.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Talk to us about this photo.¬† You have some cool stuff in it that has to do with Arizona.
CYNTHIA LEE:¬† In the background, it's mountains and the golf course in Phoenix, and then there's girls that represent the letters LPGA.
THE MODERATOR:¬† There's a cactus on there, as well, right.
CYNTHIA LEE:¬† And the cactus like represents the climate and nature and plants in Arizona.
THE MODERATOR:¬† And the little girl at the bottom, is she the one that wins the tournament?
CYNTHIA LEE:¬† Yes.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Do you have a favorite LPGA player?
CYNTHIA LEE:¬† Not really.¬† (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR:¬† That's the best answer when there's four of them standing up on stage.¬† Cynthia will be in the autograph area in the tent signing some tickets later this week.¬† We're so happy you can join us and that's an incredible picture, thanks for being here.¬† We had over 400 submissions and I have to tell you, that's incredible.
On that note, I'm going to bring up the manager for our Girls Golf program, Ashley Anderson, and she's going to ask the girls a few questions.
ASHLEY ANDERSON:¬† Thank you.¬† And I just want to add that I am actually one of the 300,000 who have been impacted by our LPGA‑USGA Girls Golf program.¬† I started playing the game of golf when I was ten years old really just to hang out with my dad and didn't realize that 20‑plus years later, just about, that I would be pursuing a career that I love and making an impact on young women's lives through the golf industry.
Are so I'm very happy to be up here on the stage with our LPGA Tour ambassadors and really the message here today is all about inspiration.¬† So I'm going to ask you guys a couple of questions about your journey, which led you here to being a professional on the Tour.
We'll start actually with our lookalikes.¬† We're going to let you guys introduce yourselves.¬† If you wouldn't mind introducing yourself, tell us your name, how old you are, how long you've been playing golf and what your big dream is.
MIKA:¬† I'm Mika, I'm 13 and have been playing golf ever since second grade and my dream is to play college golf at Stanford.
HANNAH:¬† I'm Hannah, I'm 12 and I've been playing golf for four years.¬† My big dream is to play college golf and be a veterinarian.
CALISTA:¬† I'm Calista, I'm 12.¬† I've been playing golf for 1 1/2 years, and my big dream is to become a professional golfer by the age of 21.
KENDALL:¬† My name is Kendall.¬† I'm 12 years old and my big dream is to play college golf and I've been playing for two years.
OLIVIA FLORENCE:¬† I'm Olivia Florence, I'm 12 years old and I've been playing golf for five years, and my dream is to play college golf at Texas A&M.
ASHLEY ANDERSON:¬† Let's start with our ambassadors, if you wouldn't mind re‑introducing yourself and tell us how old you were when you picked up the game of golf.¬† Tell us how you were introduced to the game, as well.
TIFFANY JOH:¬† My name Tiffany Joh‑‑ what is the other question (laughter).¬† I started when I was 12, and actually I started in a local junior golf program at San Diego State where my dad was a professor because it was free baby‑sitting.
STACY LEWIS:¬† I'm Stacy Lewis and I started playing golf when I was about eight.¬† Just started playing with my dad and it was really a way to get out and play some golf with him, and that's kind of all it was.
BRITTANY LINCICOME:¬† I'm Brittany Lincicome.¬† I started playing when I was nine years old, and same kind of as Stacy, my dad and, I have two older brothers that played, and I think more in the beginning I just wanted to drive the golf cart.¬† But I fell in love with it right away and knew it was something I wanted to do long term, so here I am.
LIZETTE SALAS:¬† I started playing golf at the age of seven thanks to my dad who happened to be a head mechanic at a public golf course for over 30 years, so thanks to him, I'm right here standing with everyone.
ASHLEY ANDERSON:¬† Did you have anybody growing up who was sort of your inspiration who encouraged you to play at a higher level?
LIZETTE SALAS:¬† Yeah, definitely.¬† I had several role models.¬† I had Nancy Lopez as a role model, I had Lorena Ochoa as a role model and just someone that I could relate to background‑wise and experience, but really my true role models were my parents.¬† They came from M√©xico, really didn't have much and had to work for everything they had and so I really think I learned my work ethic and determination from them.
BRITTANY LINCICOME:¬† I would say on the LPGA, my role model was Juli Inkster.¬† Just she was always in contention, I remember just seemed to be a great competitor, very fiery.¬† I loved her attitude on the golf course.¬† Seems like she always had a good time and being older and watching her, she raised a family out here with two kids, and just how hard it is to play golf out here, let alone raise a family.¬† It's pretty incredible to see how she did it.¬† She would be my role model.
STACY LEWIS:¬† You know, for me, I didn't watch a whole lot of golf as a kid and I didn't really plan on doing any of this.¬† I didn't really have any golf role models.¬† I had my parents, I think they were role models for me in general growing up, but I didn't really pay attention like these girls do now.¬† So it's a good thing.
TIFFANY JOH:¬† I think on a personal level, my parents, they were very encouraging and very instrumental in how I grew up.¬† But in terms of the LPGA and 1998 when SeRiPak won the U.S. Women's Open, that was actually the year that I picked up a golf club for the first time and it was kind of the first time I saw someone that looked like me on TV.¬† I remember she hit that iconic shot where she took off her shoes and went into the water and ended up winning that playoff.¬† I remember it was a huge moment because she took off her shoots and socks, and she had this gnarly pin (inaudible) and I remember thinking then, I thought, I really need to get one of those (laughter).
ASHLEY ANDERSON:¬† It's amazing what girls have been inspired by.¬† You're also our Engage Ambassador and what that means is strong, positive female role models.¬† Our philosophy is that it's hard to be it if you don't see it like you mentioned.¬† Tell us about why it's so important to you to be that role model to young girls.¬† You obviously with your YouTube video, you feel pretty comfortable being yourself, which we love.¬† But tell us why that's important and why you feel strongly about being an ambassador for Girls Golf.
TIFFANY JOH:¬† I think the most important part of being engaging is just to be yourself.¬† I think when you're growing up, especially in you're as awkward as I was and still am, it can be kind of difficult.¬† But growing up playing golf, not a lot of other girls played golf.¬† I think just going out there and being comfortable in your own skin, I think that is engaging and I think that is very attracting to other people.
So I think that's just the biggest part of it is don't be afraid to be different.¬† Everyone's a little different.¬† Some people are just a little bit more outward than other people.¬† Some people wear unicorns on the inside and some people wear it on the outside.
ASHLEY ANDERSON:¬† Speaking of confidence, I'm going to bring it over here to you, Brittany, our Empowerment, that's what it's all about.¬† It's empowering girls to feel confident and strong with who they are as an individual.
Tell us, did your parents play a role in you being a confident individual growing up or was there somebody else who was involved in your life that helped you?
BRITTANY LINCICOME:¬† No, I definitely think that would be my parents.¬† They were always very positive and giving me advice even if I had a good day or a bad day, especially on the golf course.¬† They are always there to encourage me to want to do better and want to stick with it.
Obviously golf is a very challenging game sometimes and sometimes it's really good, so it's just more motivating yourself into just keep playing and pushing on and never giving up.¬† That's probably my No. 1 thing of telling young girls is never give up.
Even us pros, we can shoot a really good score one day and a really bad score the next day, and there's no reason why, just the game of golf and the way it happens and just being strong and wanting to come back the next day.¬† I think everybody in this room really loves to play the game of golf and that's what brings us back each time and just ever giving up and always pushing on.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Lizette, you play with passion, and Nancy Lopez was very passionate, as well, with her play happy philosophy.¬† When you were growing up‑‑ sometimes the game of golf is challenging.¬† Was there anything you would do or strategies you would use to keep your practice fun?
LIZETTE SALAS:¬† Well, I didn't have many girls in my community playing golf, so the way switched it up or I was forced to switch it up was I played with boys.¬† That really helped my confidence level because not only did I beat them, but it was fun doing it.¬† I was the only girl on my high school team so in high school my nickname was golf team, it was really weird.
Just to play games with friends or with family, I played a lot of games with my dad until I started beating him and then he stopped.¬† And you know, you just play little games on the putting green and you switch things up on the driving range to make things up.¬† It's supposed to be fun.¬† It's not supposed to be a job.¬† Even though we don't think of it as a job.¬† Golf is always different.
So you have to change your routine.¬† You have to spice things up a little bit, play with different friends, not with the same people all the time, different tee boxes.¬† Sky is the limit on how to approach this game.¬† So just keep practicing.¬† Quality practice.¬† You don't want to spend three hours just whacking mediocre shots; an hour, decent, really good shots and you can go home and enjoy yourself.
ASHLEY ANDERSON:¬† So Stacy, you are our Enrichment Ambassador and for us, it's all about the life lessons through golf that you can take into your life off the golf course.¬† Tell us about some of the lessons that you learned.¬† Obviously you had some adversity and some challenges growing up, but now you're in contention to be the world No. 1 on the LPGA Tour, the biggest stage in golf.¬† Tell us about that.
STACY LEWIS:¬† Growing up, I had a lot of struggles and golf it was really my outlet.¬† That was the time I got to get out of my back brace and got to go just be one of the other girls.¬† You know, I didn't have to worry about wearing it.¬† I didn't feel different.¬† I felt like everybody else.
So golf was really my escape growing up.¬† But I just think this game, you can learn‑‑ it doesn't matter how old you get, you learn something from this game.¬† I liked hearing these girls all saying their goals were to go to college.¬† Only a couple talked about the LPGA, but I love that they want to go to college and to learn and to grow as people.
I think that's the biggest thing is golf teaches you just life lessons in general and teaches you how to be a good person, a good, honest person, and that's what I like about the game and I think these girls are on the right track.
ASHLEY ANDERSON:¬† Absolutely.¬† Now, Nancy mentioned that the LPGA‑USGA Girls Golf program has really bloomed in the last five years, from 5,000 girls participating to about 50,000 girls participating Nationwide.¬† So tell us a little bit about why it's important for the industry to get behind this movement.¬† We are calling it the Girls Golf Movement.¬† Our goal is to get every golf course that have little girls like this out there playing on the weekend.¬† Why is that important and why should people support that mission?
STACY LEWIS:¬† I think you look at the golf industry right now, it's struggling, and the women's and Girls Golf is the area where I think‑‑ and I think you're seeing it in the manufacturers.¬† They are starting to make more clubs and more things designed for more women.¬† You know, it's really the area right now that is growing and that has opportunities‑‑ the opportunities are endless, so I think you are seeing more access to golf courses, not quite so strict on the rules of when women can play or when kids can play.
Growing up, I couldn't play until after noon on the weekend.¬† Even though I could beat most of the guys on the golf course, I still couldn't play.¬† You're seeing things changing and we're getting it at a good time right now where the money is there, the opportunity is there, and you know, it's really a huge opportunity right now and we just need people to jump on board.
ASHLEY ANDERSON:¬† Any kind of last comments that you could leave the girls here with in terms of dreaming big and not letting anything stop you from accomplishing your dreams?
BRITTANY LINCICOME:¬† I think, if you want my opinion, just stick with it.¬† I mean, obviously like I said earlier, there's good days, there's bad days and those days where my dad had to take the clubs out of my hand for a week if I was getting upset, if I was getting frustrated and then we would start playing again and then it was fun again.¬† Just stick with it, whether it will be a college scholarship or if you get to turn pro one day, which would be amazing, we would love to have every one of you out here with us‑‑ I'll be retired by then hopefully but we would love to have you all come out and be LPGA players, that would be amazing.
But even like Stacy was just saying, if you can play golf‑‑ guys use golf as business tools all the time to play golf with clients, and there's not enough women, I don't think, that use that and go out and take their clients out and play a round of golf and kind of entertain them on the golf course.¬† I think golf opens up so many avenues, some of the great avenues for business.
STACY LEWIS:¬† I would just tell you guys, everybody likes to set big long‑term goals of make it to college or make it to the LPGA but to set short‑term goals.¬† Put those long‑term ones in the back of your head and just keep trying to get better every day.
LIZETTE SALAS:¬† Sky is the limit to play golf at the highest level you possibly can.¬† It's up to you guys on how much you want it and you guys just want to play college golf, that's great, and if you guys want to go to the highest level and play on the LPGA Tour, all of you can do it.
Even though some someone might say, oh, I don't think you're that good, just say, you know what, I'm going to show with you my golf clubs, not with my mouth (laughter) yeah, just stick with it, just be patient and just keep smiling.
TIFFANY JOH:¬† I think just have fun with it.¬† It's easy on the golf course to make something seem like a bigger deal than it really is but at the end of the day you're hitting a ball, going and finding it and hitting it again.¬† You also don't know where anything is going to leave you.
Stacy didn't think she was going to be out on Tour when she was a little kid.¬† I actually started out before I played golf, I played the piano for six years so I thought that was the track I was headed down.¬† You just never know where it's going to lead, so just have fun and do a variety of things, have different hobbies like don't only stick yourself in one little cubby.¬† Do a lot of things and have fun.
Q.¬† What do you think, how did the Girls Golf benefit you the most?
BRITTANY LINCICOME:¬† Like Lizette said earlier, played with the boys growing up and we didn't have a girls program, so when the Girls Golf program came along, it was just great to kind of hang out with girls my own age and get to play golf with girls, not that the boys were bad but it was just nice to kind of be with girls that were my age.
And the Girls Golf program is amazing and I wish I was 12 again and I could be a part of 50,000 girls that are now involved with a two‑year old golf program, because it's incredible to see how far it's come in a short amount of time.¬† Hopefully we can keep growing that.¬† It was super beneficial to me.¬† I don't know if I would be here without it because like I said, other girls didn't play golf and didn't think it was cool back when I was 12 years old.¬† Now to see where it's grown, it's incredible.
TIFFANY JOH:¬† Yeah, I think I benefitted the most just like Brittany said, being around girls my own age.¬† My best friends now are golfers and I think we all had the same goals.¬† We all pushed each other.¬† We were competing against each other, so I think that really strived us to be the best that we could and now I've got lifelong friends out of it.
Q.¬† What do you think the most beneficial putting exercise would be?
STACY LEWIS:¬† I would like to know, as well.¬† I think the most important part of putting is speed, so it's not‑‑ I don't necessarily worry about it going in the hole.¬† It's whether it's going the right distance past the hole or hitting it to the right speed.¬† Green reading, very important, too.
But I think a lot of speed, for me, I think it's the length of the back stroke and the tempo of it.¬† So if you watch a lot of really good putters, they take it back kind of long to short, so there's not much effort in hitting it there.¬† So work on speed and tempo.
BRITTANY LINCICOME:¬† I was trying to figure out long and short (laughter).
Q.¬† When you guys are on the first tee, what are you thinking?
STACY LEWIS:¬† I think we all kind of think about the first tee shot‑‑ I at least think about it during my warm up.¬† That's my last shot I hit.¬† But honestly, it's just trying to get the first tee shot in play and then go from there.¬† That's all I'm thinking about.
LIZETTE SALAS:¬† I just think about my target.¬† Do you ever see the greatest game ever played where they zoom in on the flag and everything is blurred out?¬† I try to blur everything out, the fans, the rough, the trees and I just focus on my target and hopefully I make good contact and try to be as relaxed as possible.¬† And also, don't forget to breathe, because if you swing like this, it's not going to go very far.¬† Just focus on your target and just let it go.
BRITTANY LINCICOME:¬† I usually think about what I'm going to eat for lunch or snack (laughter).¬† And if I packed snacks that day, and if I didn't, whose snacks I'm going to steal.
Q.¬† When you have a bad shot or bad hole what do you think about to get you back in the game for the next hole?
LIZETTE SALAS:¬† After a bad shot you're typically upset.¬† I try not to let that anger reach its highest level.¬† I try to just laugh, like I didn't believe I just did that.¬† But walking to the next shot, here is your chance to redeem yourself, here is your chance to prove you can hit a miraculous shot after a bad one.¬† I take it as a challenge.¬† Nancy Lopez always said, being excited for the next shot, whether it's a good one or a bad one.
So if you guys see me smiling or laughing after a bad one that's what I'm trying to do.
BRITTANY LINCICOME:¬† I like to sing after a bad shot just to take my mind off just what happened or even after I hit that last shot, start counting until I get it the next ball so I don't think about anythingelse other than what just happened, and hopefully you can get a good lie and get the next one up‑and‑down.
But just try to let it go the best and you can kind of move on.
STACY LEWIS:¬† I think it's okay to be a little bit upset because if you're not, then it doesn't mean anything to you.¬† So if you hit it in the water and you're fine with that, then what are you doing out there.
So I think it's okay to be a little bit upset but as long as it doesn't affect the next one or the next hole; so whether some people like to count or sing or whatever it is.¬† And just because you hit the last one bad doesn't mean the next one's going to be bad, right.¬† You've hit the next one good probably more times than you haven't.¬† So just get bad but as long as it doesn't affect the next one, it's okay.
Q.¬† How do you handle the crowd and the fans?
STACY LEWIS:¬† Crowd and the fans, it's one of those things you kind of get used to as you do it.¬† You get more comfortable there.¬† But there is times when it gets pretty narrow and gets a little nerve‑wracking.¬† You honestly try to forget that they are even there, and you know, some players, on the greens it bothers them more than others but for me I'm able to zone it out and forget they are there.¬† But in between shots, you kind of look for family members or friends you've got out there and you can have fun with the crowds, too.
LIZETTE SALAS:¬† It's something you get used to.¬† As a junior golfer, typically you have your mom and dad and family members and thing you get to college golf, you get more family members and faculty, students and you get to this level and it's like, you don't know anybody.
I still get nervous.¬† At Solheim, my first match, I was playing with Stacy, I cried.¬† I don't know why.¬† I'm just a crier.¬† But it's just something you've got to get used to and you kind of feed off the crowd sometimes, people cheering for you, you get excited and adrenaline and sometimes even hit the ball farther which is good.
But yeah, it's something you've got to get used to, and again, it goes back to breathing and calming your nerves and having confidence in yourself over the ball.
Q.¬† What advice would you guys give for parents who have young girls who are interested in getting into golf?
BRITTANY LINCICOME:¬† My mom always joked how she was going to write a book‑‑ I went from high school straight to pro.¬† There's no guide books of what the next steps are and what you're supposed to be doing.¬† Just for the parents, it's very tough.¬† We had to sell a house, we moved a couple times.¬† I did home schooling‑‑ had day care, so they had a little more flexibility, but it's very challenging.
Obviously if your child wants to do something, every parent is going to sacrifice as much as they can to kind of help them reach their dreams and everything.¬† But I'm not going to lie to you, it's not cheap.¬† Junior golf I think was close to 60 grand or something, my parents always told me.
So yeah, there's a lot of sacrifices but I think in the end, the parents will know if the kids are good enough to go to that level and then you'll figure it out, I promise, my parents did, your parents did, and we all made it here.
STACY LEWIS:¬† I always tell parents, it's the kids playing.¬† It's not the parents playing, and that's I think what kind of some of the big problems are is that they don't let the kids play‑‑ my dad, he sent me off to get lessons with somebody else.¬† There needs to be a line between a golf instructor versus your parent.
I still tell my dad, even now I tell him, dad, I just want you to be my dad.¬† I want you to be there and give me a hug afterwards whether I played bad or whether I played horrible and if I need your help, I'll ask you.
And it was great because what I do now is technically a job, and my dad doesn't need to be involved in all of that.¬† I want to keep that relationship good, so just remember that the kids are the ones playing and just let them play.
TIFFANY JOH:¬† I would just say be your child's biggest cheerleader, whether it's a good round or bad round, always give them a hug, positive reinforcement.¬† Sometimes we'll criticize or work on this, work on that but like Stacy said, the kids are playing and it's supposed to be fun.¬† It's not supposed to be like boot camp every week after school.¬† It's supposed to be fun and I would just say support them and yeah, do that.
LIZETTE SALAS:¬† I think I was super fortunate.¬† My parents really had no knowledge of golf at all when I started playing‑‑ Palos Verdes, right, we had a college tournament at this naturally golf course and I shot one of the worst rounds of my career.¬† My mom came up to me afterward and said, honey, I think you might need a haircut.¬† I think that's what parents should be, parents.
Nowadays with junior golfers, specialization is becoming a big issue.¬† We are kind of raising our junior golfers to be million mini‑tour pros so you're sticking with them with coaches all for golf at a young age.¬† When you're young, you should experiment and play as many different sports as you can and do art and music and everything and eventually down the road I think it will lead to less burnout and I think a longer career in general.
ASHLEY ANDERSON:¬† Thank you, ladies, so much, for not only being our Girls Golf ambassadors but for inspiring our 50,000 Girls Golf members.¬† Let's give these ladies a round of applause.¬† (Applause).¬† That's actually going to conclude our press conference today unless anybody else has any questions.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports