Michelle Wie West Partners with LA Golf, Forms Initiative to Support LPGA Players

Michelle Wie West will lead a new women’s partnership initiative with golf equipment company LA Golf, aimed at fair and just support on and off the golf course for female LPGA players.

Committed to treating female golfers with the same respect as their male counterparts, LA Golf will provide its LPGA partners with comprehensive health care, including mental health days, paid maternity leave, bonuses based on performance and travel concierge services.

“We’re not just looking at throwing money away, but what meaningful support can we provide to female athletes that will make them feel like they’re being taken care of,” said Wie West, who sits on the board of directors and is an investor. of Los Angeles Golf. “And it all – it adds up, and hopefully it helps prolong their careers. They can play with fewer injuries. They can play with less stress and have mental health support, all of that. “

Wie West, 32, met with LA Golf CEO Reed Dickens over the past year to create an initiative based on her own experiences and observations as a professional golfer.

“The LPGA Tour is doing an amazing job with daycare, maternity leave, mental health support,” said Wie West. “But the Tour is doing everything it can; we need corporate buy-in for the players. That’s why I think it’s really great that LA golf, as a corporate sponsor , please help change and create dialogue in this sponsorship landscape.”

After much discussion about how branded golf partnerships often aren’t enough to fully support an LPGA player off the course, Wie West and Dickens decided they needed to create a unique model.

“The purpose of the LA Golf women’s initiative is for Michelle to be a member of the board of directors, and I have given her the power, the green light and the legislative document to do what she thinks should be done based on his experience,” Dickens said. “It’s not about calculating the risk, it’s not about managing the business model per se. It’s the right thing to do at the right time and Michelle is the right fit.”

Wie West said she didn’t fully realize the challenges female professional golfers face when it comes to traveling from tournament to tournament, although she was aware that women weren’t even receiving a fraction of what professional men received when it came to travel. .

“My eyes were really opened when I traveled with my husband with the Warriors and saw how they travel,” said Wie West, who is married to Golden State Warriors executive Jonnie West. “Everything is done for them, and it’s the same on the PGA Tour too.

“During that time, I remember hoping and praying that my golf bags would show up on the airport carousel. And I was lucky enough to travel with a team during my playing years, but I know that there are a lot of girls who don’t even have that luxury.”

Wie West announced last week that she would be retiring from professional golf. After playing at the 2022 US Women’s Open at Pine Needles this week, Wie West said the only other tournament left on her competitive golf schedule is the 2023 Women’s Open at Pebble Beach.

Since her LPGA rookie year in 2009, Wie West has won five tournaments and a major at the 2014 US Women’s Open.

“I wanted people to know that ‘Hey, I’m retiring from golf, but I’m not stepping away from the game,'” Wie West said. “I’m throwing myself even deeper into the game than I have been before and hopefully making a meaningful impact.”

Wie West said she wanted to create a legacy off the course and take on what she called “meaningful projects” that will make a difference for future generations of female golfers. She will lead a selection process of up to five female professional golfers who will make the 2023 LA Golf Women’s Team.

“I think we’re really interested in players who want to disrupt space, who know how to appreciate the science and technology that goes into it – players who aren’t afraid to take risks and try something new. new,” Wie West said. . “We hope to create a dialogue in the golf industry and get people talking, getting athletes talking, saying, ‘Hey, I deserve it. can I do for you?'”

Michael C. Ford