LPGA Tour's new maternity policy

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LPGA Tour's new maternity policy

Professional golfers have to work incredibly hard, with gruelling schedules to make a career on the LPGA Tour – something that makes it incredibly hard to be a mom with a small child What was already a demanding career is increasingly difficult with a young child on the road.

Luckily, in 2019, in a forward-thinking move, the LPGA Tour enacted a new maternity policy that allows players to freeze their current status for up to two years to focus on their pregnancy, baby and mental and physical recovery.

It also allows players to decide whether they want to stop competing in events whilst pregnant. Before this new policy, the number of events was capped. Unlike many other full-time jobs, however, the LPGA Tour maternity leave is still unpaid.

Playing is the only way many of the women can make money, so they compete as long as they are physically able before taking up to two years off. Sponsors also usually require players to hit a minimum number of events to secure their full investment.

“The LPGA has had the same maternity policy in place for quite some time – at least as far back as my rookie year, which was in 1998 (and likely longer). I played under the former maternity policy when I had my daughter in 2006.

While the policy was standing the test of time, times do change, and we needed to adapt," explained Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA Chief Tour Operations Officer who led the development and drafting of the new policy.

"No system is perfect, particularly when trying to build a policy that works across birth dates over the course of 12 months. With an expanded schedule and athletes increasingly able to play a full schedule while pregnant, athletes were expressing a desire to play more during their pregnancy to provide for themselves and their families”.

“They had to change (the maternity policy) again because of COVID-19, and I think it’s helped a lot of moms have babies out here and still continue their careers,” says Katherine Perry-Hamski, a five-year LPGA Tour member who also qualified for the U.S.

Women’s Open twice as an amateur. “And they didn’t put any caps on the number of tournaments we could play, which is huge because we got to try to pay the bills at home, but I wasn’t strong enough or recovered enough to play well enough to try to earn my status back.

It was life-changing for me”. Perry-Hamski now travels with her 18-month-old son, John, and her husband, Kevin, who is also her caddie. She said wouldn’t change a thing. The LPGA also offer free childcare services, open Tuesday through Sunday at each event.

At the moment there are 23 moms playing (nine of which are currently on maternity leave) and four players expecting in 2022.