Episode 38 of On The Green Podcast was surely an exciting one! For the first time on the show, I was joined by an aspiring LPGA Tour player, Paige Crawford. After getting to know a bit more about Paige and her remarkable career thus far, she gave some incredible firsthand insight into the struggles female golfers often face as they pursue their dreams of playing on the LPGA Tour.
Meet Paige Crawford
Paige was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Describing herself as a “huge daddy’s girl,” Paige loved watching all types of sports with her father, even from a very young age. When she was around six or seven years old, she became particularly interested in watching golf. The love of watching golf on TV soon turned into a desire to play herself. As Paige recalls, she begged her dad to buy her a set of clubs.
Though her dad wasn’t so sure that Paige really wanted to play, he eventually bought her a set of clubs and some whiffle balls she could practice with in their backyard. What a great investment that turned out to be! Paige would play for hours and eventually joined her father and his friends out on the golf course. At age 10, she entered her first golf tournament and won! As Paige recalls, “I was just so excited to even be playing, so you can imagine how surprised I was when I ended up winning!”
From there, Paige’s love for the sport only grew. She would find ways to keep her game strong, even during Colorado’s snowy winters. “I loved the game so much that I tried to play year-round,” Paige says. “I would play on Christmas Day and even Thanksgiving when the course was closed. I’d sneak on and still play.”
Her dedication to the game certainly paid off, as she was named the Player of the Year at her high school in 2010. She was ultimately offered a golf scholarship to Montana State University, where she went on to have a very successful collegiate career.
Paige’s Path to the LPGA
Upon her graduation from Montana State in 2014, Paige faced the same difficult decision many aspiring female professional golfers face. Should she take her chances to pursue going pro, or should she opt for a “normal” 9-to-5 career instead? As I’ve discussed in a previous blog, it can be very challenging for women to pursue their dreams of playing golf professionally. Surprisingly, there are only three developmental tours for women in the United States as opposed to the 30-40 currently available for men. Additionally, though men’s golf offers considerably higher sponsorships and purse amounts, the expenses for playing professionally are roughly the same between men and women.
However, Paige was confident that golf was the direction she wanted to go in, ultimately deciding to go pro in 2015. Though being a professional female golfer may seem glamorous from an outsider’s point of view, Paige has had to overcome many obstacles in pursuit of her dream. As she explains, “It can definitely be a struggle for female golfers. You’re putting in more money than you’re making at the mini-tour level.”
A few years ago, Paige began working at a golf course and held a part-time job at a climbing gym. Though these positions allowed her a stable income, she recalls thinking, “This is not the life I want. I want to be able to play golf and look back on my life and say I gave it a full chance.” She quit her job last October, which she credits as “the best decision I’ve ever made.”
From there, it was full-speed ahead. She has since participated in the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship and the East Coast Women’s Professional Golf Tour. To help offset some of the costs of playing on the developmental tour circuit, which can rake up to around $40-50,000 a year, Paige travels in a Dodge ProMaster van from tournament to tournament.
As Paige explains, “You have to be 100% committed to golf in order to make it.” Reflecting on her experience as a professional golfer who is also a woman of color, Paige says, “There seems to be more and more black women pursuing the game professionally now. I feel like we’re the forerunners for future generations. It can definitely be tougher for us, but I feel like we’re heading in the right direction. I hope it gets better each year for us.”
To learn more about Paige and her pursuit of the LPGA, tune in to Episode 38 of On The Green Podcast. While you’re at it, subscribe to On The Green Podcast to be alerted when new monthly episodes are released!