Symetra Tour and Caddying for Nancy Scranton
One state south of politically divided North Carolina, the Symetra Tour just played the final round of it’s biggest major of the year: The Self Regional Women’s Health Classic hosted in Greenwood, South Carolina on The Links of Stoney Point.
It was my second tournament of the year and so I know first hand that it was a very classy event.
Madelene Sagstrom took home the trophy and a season-high first place check of $37,500. Madelene has remarkably finished in the top five at all of the events she has entered on tour this year. She also already won the other largest purse of the year at the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial. Not surprisingly, she currently sits atop the money list having earned three times as many dolla dolla bills as second place ($93,714 to $30,476).
Wow. I think I need to get an interview with her! She will undoubtedly be a name to watch for on the LPGA next year, if not this year. She does have the opportunity to be promoted to the LPGA with a third win. Go Sweden go (get off of my tour already… the rest of us need to make some money!).
During the weekend, Stoney Point also simultaneously hosted the Legends Tour for a one-day shootout on Sunday. Because I missed the cut for the Symetra event, I was able to jump in and caddy for Legends player and major champion, Nancy Scranton. Boy, does she knock it a long way for someone who is supposed to be considered older! None of those Legends ladies play older by my standards. All the gals I met were in great shape and still golfing an incredible ball.
Proud mother of two, Nancy watched out for me, her rookie caddy all day. I also had the chance to watch Buckeye Legend Rosie Jones sink more up and downs than anybody ever and I saw the Rio Olympics golf course designer Amy Alcott whack it around as well. Good stuff!
North Carolina and House Bill 2
Now the Symetra Tour moves on to it’s Symetra Classic in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you have been paying any attention to American politics then you know that the state of North Carolina is in a pickle right now.
On March 23rd, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law House Bill 2 also known as the Bathroom Bill. On the surface, the law seems mostly concerned about mandating that transgender folks use the restroom designated by their birth certificate.
Apparently, some supporters of the law are highly concerned with the safety of children in restrooms that allow transgenders in the “wrong” place. Nevermind, that the majority of pedophilia assault problems stem from males, with a child they know, often assaulting boys. (For example, child molestation is a problem with an estimated 6% of Catholic Priests… thanks Academy Award-winning “Spotlight”). Thus, it’s probably a much more likely problem that the transgender people would be the one’s in danger of violence while using the restroom. Perhaps separate restrooms for adults/teens and young children could be a more practical idea for preventing perverts in restrooms?
But that’s not really all of what HB2 is about. Of course, laws these days are a million pages long and tucked in every corner is a different little piece. And these little pieces can often be open to interpretation by lawyers much like the Bible is open to interpretation by priests.
Maybe to politicians it’s all just about votes anyway.
So, here are some other pieces of the law whose interpretations will be argued. Part of HB2 includes a clause that prevents North Carolina cities from setting a minimum wage in the private sector. Part of HB2 limits people of different religions, race, sex, sexual orientation and handicap from pursuing discrimination claims in court. Apparently people can be fired in North Carolina for any old discriminatory reason (the most unprotected folks being those in LGBQT community). And I guess restaurants can put up a sign – No Gays Allowed. Strong anti-discrimination ordinances in cities like Charlotte have been overruled by the state. There are two articles here and here that better explain the situation:
So what does this have to do with golf? Well, the NBA just announced that if the law doesn’t change then they will be moving the 2017 All Star game out of Charlotte. The NCAA men’s basketball organization is “monitoring the situation” and considering taking next year’s tournament games scheduled to be in Greensboro to a different state. ESPN is no longer so enthused about potentially hosting the X games in North Carolina.
In the non-sports world, Ringo Starr, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, and others cancelled concerts all over the state in protest of the law. Other states around the country are dropping their funding for public transportation to North Carolina.
North Carolina’s economy is losing big money due to boycotts. Pay Pal decided not to launch 400 new jobs it planned on bringing to Charlotte because of the lack of inclusiveness interpreted with the law. Oh yeah, and the Federal Government Justice Department just sued North Carolina over the legality of the law as well. Check it out here.
But golf? Golf chooses to play on. The PGA Tour just hosted the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, NC last weekend and the Web.com is headed to Raleigh for the REX Hospital Open later this month. If the PGA Tour had chosen to forgo the events then the North Carolina economy would only have suffered more.
Which begs the question, are all these boycotts going to change the law or just punish the good folks who live in North Carolina? Players on Tour would most certainly suffer negative consequences with a boycott of North Carolina tournaments.
It certainly seems that whether the PGA Tour/Web.com should be playing or not, they could make a stronger statement against the law if they wanted to. An example of playing on with a conscience comes from artists like Mumford and Sons who decided to donate all of their North Carolina concert proceeds to an LGBQT charity. Could the PGA Tour have held their event but flexed it’s muscles in a similar fashion?
Perhaps, but the PGA chose to mostly stayed out of it. Maybe the big fear was they might lose sponsors who support the bill? Read more from the PGA side here.
The LPGA and Symetra Tour have not been all that vocal about the issue but they did release a statement about the Charlotte event:
“The LPGA Symetra Tour’s mission is to empower women and give them the opportunity to pursue a dream of playing on the LPGA Tour. By allowing the words or actions of one individual/entity to potentially result in lost events from our schedule, we would simply diminish our players’ chances of earning a living. This would be counter to our overall mission. The LPGA and the Symetra Tour are committed to equal treatment of all people, and we will continue to promote fairness and equality through our events. We respect that others may have a different opinion or approach but as it relates to our Charlotte tournament, we will continue forward in hosting the 2016 Symetra Classic.”
And I do agree that the economic impact of cancelling the Symetra Event in Charlotte would no doubt monetarily harm Symetra Tour players much more than the economy of North Carolina and thus, I am happy we are playing our event.
However, it does seem like a tour that employees a healthy amount of LGBQT people such as the LPGA (and Symetra) would want to come out strong against the law and maybe play the tournament in Charlotte with some sort of pro LGBQT twist. Personally, that is what I would like to see. In the 1960’s, when the first African-American LPGA golfer, Althea Gibson was denied access to the clubhouse at three separate LPGA events because she was black, the LPGA boycotted all three of those events.
I don’t think such an extreme reaction is warranted for the Symetra Tour in Charlotte because it would mostly be harming itself but I do think that strong statements and supportive actions from the LPGA, Symetra, PGA and WEB.com Tours like the NBA and other folks have already done would at least help a little to reverse HB2… which again, I think would be good, but it’s also good that in America everyone has the right to their vote and this will be democratically hashed out.
So… this is what is happening in the Tar Heel State and as a Tar Heel grad myself with many friends counting on it, hopefully, it all works out soon.
Allie White from Lancaster, Ohio, is a professional golfer and golf journalist. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Journalism at Ohio University. With four years of experience on the Symetra Tour, a cut-made at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open, and a 2016 Ohio Open Championship, White hopes to continue her golf career during her academic breaks.
My two biggest golf dreams are to play in Toledo Ohio’s LPGA event and to make it back to another US Open. I’m still hunting for that first hole in one!”