Karen Stupples isn't just a two-time champion on the LPGA Tour, she's the mother of a 5-year-old son Logan, and the boss of her husband (he's her caddie). A member of the European Solheim Cup team, Stupples is balancing family life with her professional life.
Stupples, ranked No. 66 in the Rolex world rankings, will be in the field at next week's Sybase Match Play Championship at Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, N.J. (time is running out to get two free tickets to the tournament by texting LPGA to 792273) But before she tees it up in the Garden State, she gets to celebrate Mother's Day.
Rather than grill her on the state of the LPGA or the health of her game, we thought Stupples could shed some unique light on something many of our readers can relate to: Life as a working mom.
Q: Like all working moms, you must face challenges when you're playing on the LPGA Tour and raising a young child. How has that process been and what advice would you give to women who are getting back to work after having a baby?
A: I think that playing on the LPGA Tour is not like any normal job. Logan (age 5) comes to travel with me, so when he was a baby it was fantastic. But, when he was at a young age, and he was not sleeping or sick, it was very difficult performing on so little sleep.
I think that goes the same for mothers all over the world when it comes to difficulties performing at your job on so little sleep. All working moms also have the guilt factor of time spent away from your children. I have to wrestle with the demons of the guilt factor, too, of not spending enough time with your child. But, I think it is possible to figure out.
Q: On the PGA Tour, a big deal is always made about the doting wife, standing on the 72nd green, waiting to hug victorious dad with newborn/infant/youngster in tow. How does that differ on the LPGA Tour, and especially if your husband is on your bag? Does it change the dynamic the public sees when it's an elite female golfer vs. male?
A: I am not so sure if the dynamic changes. That is very rarely ever seen with a woman golfer, primarily because if your husband is caddying for you, then he can’t bring the child out to the green. You have to rely on the woman running the daycare center. The only time I can recall this happening is that I think they were able to do this last year when Maria Hjorth won at Mobile.
In general, it is more difficult to have children when you are playing on the LPGA Tour. You see less mothers playing than fathers playing on the PGA Tour, so the chance of a mother winning is lessened.
For me, personally, nothing would make winning a tournament more special than winning a tournament and having my son come out to see me on the 18th green. It must be very special for fathers to have that when they win. In fact, I am getting emotional just thinking about that possibility for me for the future.
Q: Golf has the potential to be such a family-friendly game. What advice would you give to husbands who would like to introduce their wives and children to the game?
A: I think that in general husbands should just take them to the course, take them to the driving range and let them hit balls. Don’t bog them down with too many lessons. Let them enjoy it. Especially with kids, just let them have fun with it. Golf is such a particular game that you have to get the whole family out there and make it about everything else, too. Plan breaks to make it less monotonous, like making a stop for a fun lunch at the clubhouse. Don’t take it too seriously.
Husbands, when it comes to taking your wives out, they shouldn’t try to teach their wives. They should go ahead and let them enjoy it for themselves. If she wants to get better, then let her go to the pro at the club and let them teacher her. It can get kind of stressful otherwise.
Q: And what advice would you give to those wives and kids?
A: I definitely would say tell your husband, and father right up front – don’t teach me, let me enjoy it. I am going to come out for a bit, have fun, watch the children and then I have other things to do, and you can go play more golf.
They need to seek out others to play with than their husband. It needs to be more of a social occasion for women, rather than just a sport.
Kids, well kids are very easy to get quite fishy with, because you want so much for them. Kids don’t have that attention span or knowledge that you have as adults. You really have to let them play and enjoy it, and find their own way. You can’t force it. The love of the game needs to be built within the kid.
I look back to my childhood and I wanted to play because my dad did. He didn’t try and teach me, but pointed me in the way of the pro and let him do it. And, I think that’s the way to go.
Q: Sunday is Mother's Day. If you could draw up the perfect Mother's Day, what would it look like?
A: That is a hard one, but I think that the perfect Mother’s Day, if the chances of me playing golf then that’s pretty high, and having Logan come out and see me win.
The only thing that would beat that would be watching Logan play, whether golf or football. For me, watching my son go out and succeed, well, that could be all I would ever want.
Then, of course, they would have to make me dinner. We would have to have a BBQ, some really nice steaks grilled out and vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, because I don’t normally eat that and it would be the one time I would allow myself the luxury.
Those little things make it all worthwhile.