Michelle Wie never thought she’d raise a family on tour. Not for any particular reason really. Mostly just thought it looked too hard. She idolized Lorena Ochoa and admired the way she walked away on top of the game to start a family.
But when 30-year-old Wie found out that she’s having a baby girl of her own later this summer, well, everything changed.
“I really want her to see me play,” said Wie, “and I want her to see me be a strong woman.”
Watching Suzann Pettersen pick up her son in the midst of pandemonium after clinching the Solheim Cup for Europe sticks out to Wie. Same with Tiger Woods winning the Masters. An injured Wie worked in the studio for Golf Channel during the Solheim and found inspiration there too with moms Paige Mackenzie and Cara Banks, who were managing life with newborns amidst the controlled chaos of live tv.
“It’s a tough job already and the baby’s not even out of me,” joked Wie, who barely left the house in the first trimester due to morning sickness.
2019 brought a rush of emotions for the five-time winner, who took a prolonged break from golf due to nagging hand and wrist injuries, got married, moved to California, dabbled in TV, turned 30 and then found out that she and husband Jonnie West would be welcoming a new addition in the summer of 2020.
As an only child, Wie always dreamed of having a big family, though with her hectic lifestyle, it seemed like a faraway notion.
“I really do think my injuries have come at a special time for me,” she said.
In an ideal world, Wie would get to compete while pregnant. One gets the impression that she wants to experience everything now to the fullest – to tell her daughter about it one day. Her body will dictate when and how much.
Doctors say that rest is the best medicine for her right hand and arthritic wrists. If felt good to hit a few balls out at Lake Merced and work on her putting. Mostly though, it has been a waiting game.
There were times when Wie wasn’t sure if she wanted to keep playing. The pain she felt trying to compete left mental scar tissue.
“There was a moment when I would look at a golf ball and I was just terrified because I knew what it was going to feel like,” said Wie. “The memory of it is getting less and less.”
Wie gets antsy when she’s at home too long. There are projects in the works and a contract with CBS for the upcoming Masters. Amazingly, Wie has “zero” experience at the iconic course.
“My husband played it,” she said, “so he’s been telling me a lot about it.”
Wie enjoyed her work with Golf Channel in 2019 more than she thought she would and said further announcements regarding television are coming soon.
As for her own golf, Wie said feels she has a lot of unfinished business left on the LPGA: “I still feel like I have more to prove.”
Though plenty of players have won more than Wie, Stacy Lewis still believes that no one on the LPGA moves the needle more. A new mom herself, Lewis said her desires to advance women and create more opportunities have grown even stronger now that she has dreams for daughter Chesnee, too.
She knows exactly how Wie feels.
The LPGA recently updated its maternity policy so that members can play in as many events as they want in a maternity leave year. They can also take up to two years off and come back with the same priority status. Players are no longer forced to come back before their mind and bodies (and babies) are ready.
“Extending the policy is huge,” said Lewis, who, looking back, could’ve taken a couple more months off before returning to the tour.
Wie has plenty of women on the LPGA to talk to about doing it all. Seven babies were born in 2018 alone. There’s certainly no shortage of inspiration.
“It’s definitely a dream of mine for my kid to be in the crowd and to watch me play,” she said. “Did I think that a couple years ago? Not at all, but it’s definitely changing.”