Stacy Lewis wasn’t planning on taking any time off from the LPGA season this year.
Yet shortly after returning home from a tournament in Thailand in February — which she had to withdraw from because of an oblique strain — Lewis got the news she was hoping for: she was pregnant. Lewis and her husband had been trying to start a family, and were thrilled about the news.
But in the golf world, sponsorships are everything. That’s how players make the majority of their money. The way most sponsorship contracts are written in the LPGA, Lewis said, is based on the number of tournaments they compete in. If she were to take time off, she wouldn’t get paid as much.
That lack of maternity leave can make starting a family difficult.
“In our sport you don’t get paid unless you play,” Lewis told GolfWeek. “Take away tournaments, you take away income from both sides. That money is not guaranteed unless you play. For a lot of people who are thinking about starting a family, that’s a deal-breaker.”
Shortly after she found out she was pregnant, and realized she would have to miss part of the season, Lewis got a call from one of her biggest sponsors. KPMG — a financial services company — was on her side.
“[KPMG] called me a couple days later and said they wanted to pay me for the whole contract, regardless of the number of tournaments I played in,” Lewis said. “They see me as a member of their team and their family and they wanted to treat me like any other female in their organization that has a baby. Which I was pretty blown away by, shocked to get that phone call really.”
Lewis has been on the LPGA since 2009 and has racked up 12 career wins. She has also won two majors — at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and at the 2013 RICOH Women’s British Open.
The 33-year-old plans to compete through mid-July this season, and plans to play a full season next year — just in time for the Solheim Cup.
Thanks to the support from one of her biggest sponsors, Lewis can rest easy when she’s away from the golf course this season focusing on what’s most important to her.
“Golf has never gotten in the way of anything in my personal life,” Lewis said. “Family is important to me. It’s more important than any golf tournament I’m going to play in. I thought about it a little bit from the golf side, but on the other hand, it’s like what did we want for our family.”
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