Golfer is set to become the first transgender woman to win coveted Ladies PGA Tour Card
A golfer is poised to become the first transgender woman to earn a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour card after beating much of her competition in the first two qualifying rounds.
Hailey Davidson, 29, had a strong finish in the first two rounds of the first stage of the LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying School in Palm Springs this week.
Davidson, a Scotland native who lives in Florida, shot a 70 in the first round at the Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert California, on Thursday, and hit a 76 during the second round on Friday, Fox News reported.
According to the LPGA’s rules, any player who shoots under 88 after all three rounds will earn a 2023 Epson Tour Status, the official qualifying tour for the LPGA.
Hailey Davidson, 29, is on her way to becoming the first transgender woman to earn an LPGA tour card after successful showings in the first two days of Stage I qualifiers
Davidson, pictured practicing before the tournament began, shot a 70 in the first round at the Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert California, on Thursday, and hit a 76 during the second round on Friday. The third round will be held over the weekend
According to the LPGA’s rules, any player who shoots under 88 after all three rounds will earn a 2023 Epson Tour Status, the official qualifying tour for the LPGA, a goal Davidson has been working towards after completing her transition in 2021
Competing against 310 other women, Davidson is tied at 59th place and appears to be in a good position to pass the first stage and move onto Stage II in October against the top 100 players.
The LPGA Tour had removed its ‘female at birth’ requirement back in 2010.
Davidson last competed as a male golfer in 2015, after which, she began hormone therapy treatments and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2021.
‘I know I have what it takes from being around professional golfers on the LPGA/PGA/Champions Tour over the recent years and staying very competitive with them all,’ Davidson said in 2021 while trying to fundraise for qualifying school.
‘While I know that I have the talent and mental game to make a career out of playing, the initial cost of tournaments and practice expenses is what truly holds me back.’
While failing to make qualifiers that year, Davidson stayed competitive in other tournaments, ending one match just three shots behind 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champ Paula Creamer.
The majority of Davidson’s time has been spent competing on the East Coast Women’s Pro Golf Tour, winning three of the last five matches before the summer qualifiers.
Although the top male golfers can typically hit the ball further than their female counterparts, Davidson claims that the majority of criticism about her competing in the women’s circuit is transphobic rather than a real dialogue over the sport.
Davidson said that after her transition, she now hits the ball 15 mph slower.
‘I’ve seen that it’s not about protecting women’s sports or me having an advantage, it’s just that you don’t like trans people,’ Davidson said of her detractors while speaking on the Like It Is podcast.
‘It’s very sad that that’s what it comes down to. In the last couple of months, that’s what I’ve come to learn.’
Davidson last competed as a male golfer in 2015, after which, she began hormone therapy treatments. She has been competing on the East Coast Women’s Pro Golf Tour
Davidson said that after her transition, she now hits the ball 15 mph slower, adding that she doesn’t have much of an advantage against other female golfers
Davidson claims that the majority of criticism about her competing in the women’s circuit is transphobic rather than a real dialogue over the sport
Davidson’s expected success in the first round comes amid a culture war in America over regulations in allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports.
Although professional bodies like the LPGA and PGA set up their own rules and regulations, debates have erupted across the country over athletes competing in high school and college.
The issue took center stage this year with UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas, who began competing in women’s collegiate swimming a year and a half after transitioning.
Thomas went on to break several women’s records, much to the dismay of several of her teammates, and the NCAA and US Swimming bodies were criticized for allowing Thomas to compete.
Professional competitive swimming association FINA has since effectively banned trans women from competing in the sport, by saying they must have begun to transition before puberty kicked in, which is illegal or almost impossible to do across most of the US.
By the summer, 18 states had outlawed transgender students from competing in girls’ sports.
One notable example is Ohio, which passed a bill requiring students accused of being transgender to provide a doctor’s note detailing their sexual anatomy, their testosterone levels, and their genetic makeup.
In New Jersey, Republican lawmakers proposed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which would require female student-athletes to verify the nature of their genitals to compete.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Michael Testa, compared genitalia checks to random drug tests that college athletes are subject to, and said he didn’t foresee any problems with irate parents accusing girls of being transgender.