Transgender athlete Hailey Davidson needs to recognize that golf is a fair game and stop competing for women.
Then the Ladies Professional Golf Association must follow suit, use this opportunity to correct their biggest mistakes – and restore the spirit of what has been the world’s most successful club.
Let me be clear – I do not come to these conclusions easily.
As the world’s greatest 26-year-old athlete, lifelong storyteller and sports commentator, and parent of one of the world’s best-known families, I have a responsibility to add my voice to the angry, ongoing debate surrounding transgenderism and elite sports competition.
The divisive news comes as Davidson, 30, seeks a spot on the LPGA Tour after winning the NXXT Women’s Classic last week.
Today, many people are afraid to speak up for fear of rejection or retaliation.
Well, I’m not afraid – and my view, modestly, can cut through the noise.
When I competed in the Olympics, my competition was all I could think about. I respected them a lot and, of course, I gave all the strength of my life to defeat them at the right level.
But, respectfully, Davidson (who asks to be answered with they/them pronouns) can’t be said to be competing with the same esprit de corps.
I am a transgender person who took up golf in my 50s, playing as an amateur, non-competitively, with men and women of all ages. I know for a fact that there are differences between men and women that cannot be solved by modern medicine – especially when people go through puberty.
And Davidson, who began transitioning in her early 20s and had sex reassignment surgery six years later, is stronger than most of her competitors.
Davidson responded to some of the criticism – saying that their power had declined significantly since the ‘reform’.
“It’s crazy how much fake hate I’ve received so far,” Davidson wrote on Instagram. ‘All these guys (I think) I hit 300 yards or 280 yards. How about 250 on a good day.’
Maybe that’s true. But a 250-yard drive would put Davidson within the top 13 players with the longest LGPA drive today.
Davidson has never been great as a male athlete.
I have had countless conversations with people in the golf industry, including those with the PGA, LPGA, LIV, Aramco, club owners and sponsors.
Their secret answers vary greatly.
Davidson was an average male golfer, who never really had a chance to make it in the PGA. But now Davidson is running for one of the most vacant spots in women’s sports.
How fair is it for women?
Why can’t Davidson, who received a college scholarship as a male athlete, compete with men?
A common answer that some golfers – and beyond – will never admit is that they can’t pass.
Davidson has become the epitome of what many people and their allies fear – a seemingly selfish person who does not consider the consequences of their actions and may harm others.
Finally, I ask the LPGA: isn’t it time to admit you were wrong?
The LPGA was founded in 1950 by 13 proud women who wanted to give women golfers a place to compete and win. The PGA Tour, founded 30 years earlier, was open to both men and women. But the only time a woman ever made the cut on the PGA Tour was in 1945 at the Los Angeles Open.
It wasn’t until 1981 that Kathy Whitworth became the first female actress to earn $1 million in career earnings. Today, female professional golfers on the LPGA tour earn $118 million in total earnings.
That is an incredible achievement.
The LPGA Tour has also been at the forefront of the fight for equal rights and notably rejected the ‘Caucasians Only’ policy before the first black member joined in 1963.
Good luck with the tour, I believe the LPGA’s heart is in the right place. However, when the organization voted to remove the ‘at-birth’ requirement from their rules in 2010 and allow transgender people who had undergone sex-change operations to compete they made a mistake.
The LPGA’s poor decision put it on a slippery slope. More opportunities could be taken away from women, further disrupting the LPGA’s career and giving a negative impression to the people who have changed.
This is not about one person, one governing body or one sport.
This is a simple matter of justice… it is justice.
Golf should lead the way.