Tour moms may be the LPGA’s most savvy travelers, as evidenced by the mountains of cargo they transport from tournament to tournament and the careful choreography they execute to make the constant transition as seamless as possible for their children.
At airport ticket counters, for example, you will see multiple bags, golf clubs, strollers, car seats, and a couple of kids in tow who regard it all as another grand adventure. Some Tour moms travel with infants, who must be carried or pushed.
What you can’t see are bags containing 10 pounds of baby formula and a six-week diaper supply. Stuffed into bags are also children’s toys and books, portable baby bathtubs, cribs, and playpens.
“For sure, traveling is the most difficult part because you have to be super well-organized,” said Karine Icher of France and mother of daughters, Lola, 7, and Maya, seven months old.
“We have four suitcases, my golf bag, three carry-on bags and when the oldest one is in school, we carry her books and homework, with a [crib] and a tub for the baby,” Icher added.
Icher traveled with her first daughter, Lola, until she was 4. Her husband, Fred Bonnargent, works as her caddie, but now that Lola is in elementary school at home in Orlando, FL, Bonnargent stays at home with the children while Icher continues traveling on Tour.
Once school is out, the entire family is rejoined on the road. Bonnargent resumes caddie duties and drives their cargo in a mini-van from tournament to tournament for domestic events while Icher flies to events with the girls and their carry-on bags.
“We have so much stuff that if we all flew, it would cost a fortune,” said Icher.
Tour member Sydnee Michaels gave birth to daughter, Isla, in November 2017, and returned to the LPGA Tour when her infant was four months old. For the first two weeks, she had on-the-road help from her mother and husband, Glenn Muncrief.
But soon Michaels and Isla were in charge of their own juggling act as they transitioned from event to event. Michaels would push Isla in a stroller with her purse and carry-on bag stuffed underneath while also pulling a cart containing a portable crib, suitcase with baby food, diapers, wipes, toys, clothes, sheets, and an inflatable bathtub, as well as her clubs and suitcase.
In addition to the plethora of packed items, Michaels attempted to protect a nagging back injury as they navigated through airports, planes, and hotels.
“My baby was a joy to travel with and I loved it, but I had to get creative that first year and learn how to pick things up without hurting myself,” Michaels said. “I’m not going to lie—it was hard, but it’s very lonely traveling on tour and I loved having her with me.”
Michaels laughs at the notion that Tour travel is “glamorous.” She also acknowledges the conundrum of staying at home with children or taking them on the road.
“I think we’re always going to have that internal battle of wanting to be home with our kids, but we also have career aspirations,” she added. “Having a family and having a career are both possible, and both are important.”
Michaels breast-fed Isla prior to rejoining the Tour, but as she planned her return, she realized that nursing an infant would be very difficult with the unpredictable nature of tournament days. She opted to stop nursing her child.
“It would have been even more difficult trying to nurse and play,” she explained. “If you don’t stay on your nursing schedule, your supply of milk is going to diminish.”
Tour moms also play many sleep-deprived rounds, which can make morning tee times challenging.
“Babies are awake at 5 or 6 AM, so it’s like you have an early tee time every day,” added Icher. “I just go to bed when the kids go to bed. By 9 PM, everybody is asleep.”
Icher said golfers have to be “selfish” to prepare for competition, but she added that having children has shifted her daily mindset.
“When golf is over for the day, it’s all about my daughters – feeding them, giving them baths and getting them ready for bed,” Icher said. “It’s not just about me anymore. It’s about the kids.”
Sometimes children also get sick on the road, which can upset the regular routine that touring professionals strive to achieve. Sick kids can be cranky children, which means their moms have to patiently wait for them to fall asleep.
“Many times, we have eaten in the hotel corridor while they get to sleep,” said LPGA tour veteran Catriona Matthew, whose caddie-husband Graeme Matthew traveled with her and daughters Katie and Sophie, until the girls were old enough to go to school back home in Scotland.
“It’s a lot of extra work [to travel with children], but to have them with you is pretty special,” added Matthew, Europe’s 2019 Solheim Cup Captain. “They grow up with other similar-aged kids on tour and the [LPGA] daycare staff always goes the extra mile to help us.”
Now a mother of two sons, Mason and Griffin, Cristie Kerr said she has become more attuned to details and more organized in planning travel for her entire family.
“You try to figure out what the weather is going to be where you are going,” said Kerr. “And then you have to make sure they have the right clothing, as well as the right sized clothes for however many weeks you’re going to be on the road with them because they are growing so fast.”
The LPGA has welcomed several new tour babies in the last few years and more youngs