Golf season is in full swing (pun intended) but while you might think it’s a guy’s sport, the PGA would like to change that. According to the National Golf Foundation, only 19 percent of golfers are female, so an industry-wide initiative was launched last year to bring more girls to the game. And it seems to be working: This coming week will mark the first time in history that the men's and women's U.S. Opens will be played in back-to-back weeks at the same venue—Pinehurst No. 2—with the men finishing up Sunday and the women commencing Thursday. Not only will it boost awareness of the women’s game, but it also allows LPGA pros to practice alongside the men at the same time.
One incredible female paving the way? Known as the “Pink Panther” by her fans, Paula Creamer currently has 12 pro career victories and is one of the most popular players on tour. In other words, she is totally fierce on the fairways. We went one-on-one with the 27-year-old to chat about why it’s so important to bring women to the game and how she stays in shape for the course—both mentally and physically.
Shape: Why do you think fewer women play golf than men, and why is it so important for females to get involved with the sport?
Paula Creamer (PC): I think that difference started many, many years ago when women had much less access to golf courses. Over time those barriers were slowly broken down, but women in society were slow to embrace a sport that for generations was viewed as a man's game. Instruction and feeling comfortable on the course is also important. I think women enjoy the social aspects of the game as much as men and with them more involved, more families will tend to play together. Families doing things together is never a bad thing.
Shape: What type of workouts do you do for your golf game?
PC: I try to work out four or five times a week. Sometimes, with my travel schedule as well as my playing schedule, that becomes a challenge. I don't like to get bored, so it is important for my workouts to change quite often. Jon Burke does a really good job keeping the workouts fresh. His exercises are very Mixed Martial Arts related, which focuses a lot on conditioning, mental state of mind, core, and range of motion. You can isolate body parts, but overall fitness is very important. This past off-season we targeted the core and tried to strengthen my hips. They are important in a golf swing. As a result, I have gained club head speed, which has resulted in increased distance off the tee.
Shape: What are your must-have items you need with you while on the road?
PC: Well, I travel with my dog Studley, a Coton de Tulear, a lot. He is great and always brings a smile to my face. If I can take him, I do. I also like to have my iPod, as music is a big part of my life. I always have a pair of heels with me and a nice outfit because I like to get dressed up.
Shape: What is one of your most memorable moments on the golf course and why?
PC: Well, winning the 2010 U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont has to be the highlight of my career thus far. This past March in Singapore I made a 75 footer for eagle on the second hole of a sudden death playoff that even gave me reason later to look back and say, 'Wow.' I have had so many fun moments on the golf course. I feel very blessed for that.
Shape: You recently got engaged, congrats! What are your secrets to a lasting, healthy relationship?
PC: I am a very lucky girl to have met Derek at the time I did. He is a wonderful man, but as for my secrets for a lasting, healthy relationship, maybe you should ask me that question 20 or 30 years from now!
Shape: So much of sports are a mental game. How do you stay in tip-top shape mentally?
PC: You have to have extreme confidence in yourself. I don’t think everything can be taught. Certain individuals are born with what I call special gifts, and others have to work on things consistently. I feel very fortunate that my mental toughness and fighting spirit comes very natural to me. Other areas, I have to work very hard at.