Some may say 2020 was all about adapting to change and determining what our “new normal” was in the face of CDC guidelines and governmental regulations. Regardless of the industry, everyone and every business had to adjust in one way or another. One of the hardest hit by the global pandemic was the sports industry. To see how the world of professional golf was forever changed, we caught up with LPGA Pro and PURE Grips Brand Ambassador, Liz Nagel. Although the hardest part was the exclusion of fans, Liz did gain some positive “takeaways” from her experience on the LPGA tour this year.
What happens behind the scenes during this “new normal”?
The “new normal” for the LPGA includes doing an at-home test before traveling to each event. Once you get those negative results (normally the next day) you’re good to start your journey to the tournament. Upon arrival to the tournament site we test again. That second negative test result after travel will allow players and caddies access into the clubhouse and player dining. Obviously everyone has a mask on pretty much everywhere except when actually doing the act of golfing on the course, driving range, or putting green. The LPGA has done an amazing job at putting protocols in place that we have easily adapted to and that help us feel extremely safe in the LPGA bubble that they’ve created. I think we all really feel lucky just to be playing, and extremely grateful for all of the hoops and things that have to happen for us to even have tournaments right now. (Shoutout to our amazing sponsors and volunteers!) Another important detail is we are restricted from eating in at any restaurants or going to any bars. It’s a little detail that could make a big difference or put us all at risk, so it means a lot of takeout containers and online menu searching, but in the whole scheme of things it’s really not that bad :) Other than that a lot of wipes and hand sanitizer on and off the course, just like everyone else!
How does “no fans” affect your psyche?
Having no fans is definitely a bummer for the tournaments, sponsors, and cities we visit - but it actually is a big bummer for us players as well. We love our fans and are grateful to the people who come out year after year and support us. The energy feels so different out there without them and we hope that when they re-open the gates that they will all be back!
As far as Psyche goes I wouldn’t say it really affects me at all. It ironically feels pretty close to a mini tour event, which most of us have played quite a few at some point in our careers.
What is something positive that has been a result of the “new normal”?
I would say something positive that has come out of this new world that we live in is everyone really seems to be there for each other, and has banded together as an LPGA family. We see quite a few of the moms bringing their kids along maybe more than they normally would, and you definitely get the feeling that people are just looking out for one another a bit more than normal. Even though we are doing our jobs and are all competitors, we are definitely a family out there and want everyone to stay safe and healthy so we can move out of this in one piece.
Was it difficult to find ways to practice? If so, how did you manage to stay on top of your game?
The LPGA shut down right around March 12th and we didn’t start up again until August 1st. During that time being an LPGA player wasn’t any different than any other job - it was very up in the air, and hard to know if it was safe to go out and work or stay home and figure out a way to do it under your own roof. For a while I didn’t practice and took a little time off to hunker down with my family in Michigan. When we began to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel was when the LPGA announced a tentative schedule and I began to practice and prepare for that. Luckily golf is done primarily outside and it is completely possible to keep a nice distance from others, so golf courses were only shut down for a short time in Michigan. I’ve said it a few times and I’ll say it again now - if not being able to play golf during the pandemic was my biggest problem I had to deal with then I’m pretty dang lucky!
Tell us a little bit more about your experience this year versus previous years.
This year versus previous years on tour is definitely different. I’ve had LPGA status in the past, and with this being my first year with *full* status I had high hopes that obviously weren’t able to happen. Luckily the LPGA has decided our 2020 status will carry over into 2021. I think it’s a good lesson for all of us to never take anything for granted and that when we do get an opportunity to follow our dreams or to reach our lifelong goals to not overlook it and use the opportunity to its fullest potential.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I would also be remiss to not mention the tremendous support we have gotten as LPGA players - we wouldn’t have a tour without our amazing title and tournament sponsors and even in the midst of a pandemic, that has taken its toll on all of us in so many ways, they have stuck with the LPGA and all of us players in such a strong and supportive way. We truly are grateful for their support of women’s golf and their commitment to the LPGA.
One last shoutout to our commissioner Mike Whan. He has been absolutely incredible during this time and worked tirelessly to make it possible for us to be back out there playing in 2020. We couldn’t have navigated this crazy time without him.
Although everyone had to do things a little differently this year (including professional golfers), this “new normal” may have brought about some positive side-effects. One thing’s for sure...regardless of the challenges this “new normal” presented, Liz and her fellow LPGA cohorts crushed them!
We are ready to drive full-force into 2021 and support Liz as she continues to tear it up on the LPGA tour!
Learn more about Liz and her LPGA accomplishments on: