The LPGA kicks off the domestic portion of its schedule this week, and it’s worth watching. Why? Because sports are the proving ground for so many important values—competition, confidence, teamwork, perseverance—and our support and attention say a lot about us as parents, educators and citizens.
Golf remains the sport for a lifetime, and the opportunities for girls and women to participate are enormous. Girls’ youth participation as well as women’s college programs have grown significantly. The PGA of America has supported the efforts of the Executive Women’s Golf Association, and the industry looks to embrace the growth of what I call Generation W—an age of girls and women who are looking to be as good as we can be. We increasingly understand that sports are a part of the playbook for a successful life. The industry needs to continue rolling out the welcome mat. I’ve always thought golf was the antidote to noisy, overscheduled lives, like the ones most of us lead. Golf can slow the rpms and, especially for girls and women, provide the kind of social interaction that we value.
We need to join together to build on the momentum that we have created. The positive role models that the LPGA and the WNBA provide are powerful messages of encouragement. Buying tickets and sponsorships and watching on TV send messages that are not lost on girls or boys. I am fortunate to be involved in a film project that will open in the fall, titled From the Rough. The film is based on the true story of Catana Starks, an African-American woman who coached the predominantly white men’s golf team at Tennessee State to success against all odds. It’s not a golf film per se, but it showcases the power that golf has to transform people’s lives. All sports do.
I believe in the power of the ball, whether it be white and dimpled or larger and orange. Sports are transformative. The transformations begin at home and are global in scope. I am grateful that my parents encouraged me to play, that there was a coach who pushed me to excel and a professional league that gave me the opportunity to live a dream. Living dreams, giving back, making friends, being healthy—every kid should have those opportunities in equal measure. ±
Donna Orender, a former PGA Tour executive and WNBA commissioner, runs Orender Unlimited, a marketing, media and strategy firm.