CHAMPIONSHIPS
USGA's Championship Policy Gives More Flexibility to New Parents February 18, 2020 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By Julia Pine, USGA

New mom Stacy Lewis helped the USGA update its maternity and paternity policy regarding championships. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

The USGA today announced updates to its family policy to allow players who have earned a place in a USGA championship and cannot compete due to maternity or paternity a more flexible deferral plan.

Incorporating input from players, including major champion Stacy Lewis, the policy gives a player or side who has earned a place 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 new policy also provides players the ability to request an additional one-year extension of their deferral for exceptional circumstances, as determined by the USGA.

“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.”

The updated policy now includes a ranking “freeze” provision that gives a player the ability to lock in their current Rolex Women’s Golf Ranking or World Amateur Golf Ranking before leaving for maternity or paternity. If the ranking meets the applicable criteria under USGA’s current exemption categories, the player will receive an exemption into the following year’s championship. 

“I was thrilled when the USGA asked me to participate in the process to update the policy,” says 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.”

Effective immediately, the family policy is applicable to all 14 professional and amateur championships that the USGA conducts each year.

USGA Championships Family Policy

Purpose: To allow players who have earned a place in a USGA Championship and cannot compete due to “Maternity” (which includes pregnancy, surrogacy, or adoption) or “Paternity” (which includes surrogacy or adoption) to be able to defer their earned place in the championship.

Eligibility: A player or a side who has earned a place in a USGA Championship either through qualifying or exemption may defer his or her place in the championship for one (1) year due to Maternity or Paternity of such player or member of such side.  For exceptional circumstances as determined by the USGA, a player or side may request to extend the deferral for an additional one (1) year.  A player or side may defer their place for a maximum of two (2) years per Maternity or Paternity. 

For a player who is exempt under a multi-year exemption category, this policy will apply on the last year of their exemption period in accordance with the terms of this policy.      

Ranking “Freeze” Provision: If a player stops competing during the course of the year due to Maternity, the player may “freeze” her or his current ranking as of the date of last play for the purposes of determining whether the player qualifies for an exemption in a USGA Championship.  A player may qualify for an exemption if the player’s “frozen" ranking (e.g. Rolex Women’s Golf Ranking, Official World Golf Ranking or World Amateur Golf Ranking) meets the applicable criteria under USGA’s current exemption categories.  Under this provision, the player may defer her or his place under an applicable exemption for one (1) year following the date of last play. For exceptional circumstances as determined by the USGA, a player may request to extend the deferral for an additional one (1) year. A player’s frozen ranking status may be used to qualify for an exemption for a maximum of two (2) years per Maternity.   

Procedure: To request a deferral, a player must submit a written request to the USGA Senior Director, Championship Administration at champs@usga.org as soon as possible, but no later than fourteen (14) days prior to the first day of the championship for which a deferral is being requested.  The request must provide the player’s reason for deferral and date of last play or anticipated date of last play.  For any subsequent Maternity or Paternity, a player must submit a separate deferral request for each Maternity or Paternity.