USGA announces more flexible family policy


The USGA has announced changes to its family policy. The new more flexible plan allows players who have earned a spot in a USGA championship either through qualifying or exemption the option to defer his or her place in the championship for one year due to maternity or paternity.

The policy is in line with the LPGA’s recent changes, in that players can lock in their status, or in this case world ranking, before going on maternity leave. Stacy Lewis was among the players who provided input.

Last year the USGA offered Lewis and Brittany Lincicome, both new moms, a spot in the U.S. Women’s Open field in lieu of a policy change. USGA officials promised to take a fresh look at its maternity policy, and they delivered.

“Updating our family policy was an opportunity to support players as they welcome new family members and also to go a few steps further,” says John Bodenhamer, Senior Managing Director, Championships. “We are pleased to have a policy that affords players more balance between parenthood and competing at the highest levels.”

Players can also request an additional one-year extension based on special circumstances.

Lewis was No. 33 in the world when she went on maternity leave in 2018. The two-time major winner had competed in 12 consecutive U.S. Women’s Opens, finishing in the top 3 on three different occasions. During that stretch, she won a dozen LPGA titles and spent 25 weeks at No. 1.

She’d finished no worse than 21st on the money list since 2010 before quitting mid-year in ’18 to give birth to daughter Chesnee. She finished the season at No. 99 and was staring U.S. Women’s Open qualifying in the face before the USGA offered her a spot in the field.

Under the new policy, Lewis’ ranking of 33rd would’ve easily gotten her into the 2019 contest.

“I was thrilled when the USGA asked me to participate in the process to update the policy,” said Lewis. “Last year, I experienced the challenges that new parents often face and was fortunate that the USGA worked with me for my circumstance surrounding the U.S. Women’s Open. As players, we want a fair and inclusive policy, and that is exactly what this reflects.”

The policy applies to all 13 USGA championships.

“It’s super nice,” said Lincicome. “You never know how you’re going to come back, how your body is going to feel. When you get into it, especially your first child, there are so many what-ifs. You already have so much pressure to get your body back.”

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