Haley Moore's drive toward LPGA includes inspiring day at all-female pro-am

Haley Moore's drive toward LPGA includes inspiring day at all-female pro-am

LPGA Tour

Haley Moore's drive toward LPGA includes inspiring day at all-female pro-am

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PINEHURST, N.C. – Haley Moore played in her first pro-am on Tuesday.

Yes, there’s a pro-am at Q-Series. It’s a voluntary, intimate affair sponsored by Blue Cross North Carolina and it’s made up entirely of females. That’s right, not a single man in the entire field.

The theme of the day is to #livefearless, something Moore knows something about. The event was designed to encourage women who might be too fearful to participate in a male-dominated field to take that first step. Duffers were welcome at Pinehurst No. 8. It was a day to learn, to celebrate community and help the LPGA’s next generation of stars realize a dream. (It’s also worth noting that the closest-to-the-pin winner on Tuesday actually aced it.)

Q-Series, an eight-round event now in its second year, comes with a $500,000 purse. Part of that sponsorship is this pro-am, though it’s not a requirement for players like it is at regular tour stops. Moore was among the group of players who committed to play after an email blast went out to all 98 participants.

It’s the midway point of the tournament. Scores from the first four rounds carry over to Pinehurst No. 9, where a cut will be made after 108 holes. Moore is currently tied for 36th. The top 45 and ties earn LPGA status for 2020.

The recent Arizona grad was the first player picked at the pro-am party. She was joined by Roberta Bowman, the LPGA’s chief brand and communications officer, Paige Sheehan, a former colleague of Bowman’s at Duke Energy, and Barbara Bufkin, who comes from a family of golfers but only recently started taking the game seriously.

Bowman convinced Bufkin to take the plunge at Pinehurst, saying there will never be another first like this.

Bufkin, it’s safe to say, had a blast. The team happened to win, but there was more to celebrate than the pro shop gift card.

For Moore, this was a safe group, too. These top female executives lifted her up around the course and at the lunch table, pouring positivity in her direction at every turn. Sheehan, a golfer for nearly 30 years now, also encouraged Moore in the art of trash talk and told her to put “Caddyshack” on her must-watch list.

Sheehan works in corporate communications at Duke Energy and said she doesn’t often get the chance to play golf with women in business because so few overcome the fear to get out and play.

“We’ve unfortunately all had experiences where you out to a course and someone pairs you up with two guys,” said Sheehan, “and they see that you’re a woman and they don’t want to play with you. That’s when you tee the ball up, knock the snot out of it, game on.”

At this point Moore, who was sitting across the table from Sheehan, blurted out a soft “Yes!”

Bufkin credits Marvol Barnard, president of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals, with inspiring her to overcome the fear that keeps so many women from experiencing a round with someone like Moore. Golf, Sheehan says, creates a conversation among women that is unifying and empowering and fun.

Bufkin bounced out of the clubhouse at Pinehurst clearly energized about the game and its possibilities. As chairwoman of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, her mind is already racing at the possibilities with the LPGA.

“At this stage in my career,” said Bufkin, “what we cannot state and read about and write about enough, is women helping other women.”

Sheehan has been following Moore since she burst onto the stage at the ANA Inspiration, making the cut as a 16-year-old. She loved reading about how Moore developed as a young woman while part of a team at Arizona, one that rushed to wrap their arms around her after she sunk the winning putt at the 2018 NCAA Championship.

“A group of women working on the same goal,” said Sheehan, “it’s magical.”

Moore smiled at the memory and said, “I still ride on it today.”

Sheehan saw a hint of mischief in Moore during the pro-am. That sly grin and friendly jab doesn’t come through on television. In person though, Sheehan found the newly-minted pro even more endearing.

When Moore brought up the Drive On campaign, the LPGA’s new brand positioning ushered in by Bowman, Sheehan asked the LPGA hopeful how she’d write her own commercial script. Moore said she’d talk about how she was bullied so badly in middle school that she almost quit the game in a state of depression.

“I overcame a challenge,” said Moore, “and now here I am out there with these girls. Don’t be judged by how you look or your body figure, just go out there and pursue your dream.”

Be fearless.

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