By the time this story goes to print the 2015 ALPG season will be well underway and we will have seen the re-emergence of one of the superstars of the women’s game in Australia, Rachel Hetherington.
Rachel stepped away from playing in 2010 and since retiring she has been extremely busy, not only did she and her husband, former test cricketer Greg Ritchie, add to their family with the arrival of their daughter, Annie, Rachel also owns and operates the Rachel Hetherington Golf Range. More recently, Rachel has joined the coaching staff at Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club.
Rachel is passionate about teaching junior players and dedicates much of her time to coaching and mentoring potential stars of the future.
Rachel played on the LPGA tour for 14 years, winning 8 tournaments and over US$ 5.7 million in official prizemoney. Three of Rachel’s eight victories were playoff victories over the best women golfer on the planet Annika Sorenstam. It is fair to say that Rachel really didn’t receive the plaudits and recognition she deserved from her achievements in the game, in a way it was unfortunate for her that the two players who dominated the women’s game in the years that Rachel was competing in the US were Annika and our own Karrie Webb.
Rachel was never one to seek attention or fame, she just worked as hard as anyone out there and let her clubs do the talking. It is interesting speaking to Rachel about her achievements, she is incredibly humble about her position in the game and is fiercely passionate about giving back to the next generation of Australian stars. Needless to say Rachel has so much to offer the young players and understands how difficult it is be a young woman heading off overseas to chase their dreams.
The fact is so few women in the game make what you would call a good living from playing. Even on the USLPGA Tour the prizemoney is very top heavy and if you are not in the top 60 or 70 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings the chance is that you are supplementing your income by doing corporate days or some teaching in the off season. Compare that to the PGA Tour where you can make $1m and lose your card!
If you look at the prizemoney Karrie has made compared with some of the Australian players on the PGA Tour and compare the ratio of career money to tournament victories it gives you an idea of the inequality in the prize money.
This year we will see the emergence of two incredibly talented young Australians teenagers on the world stage. Minjee Lee made her debut as an LPGA member in Florida at the Coates Golf Championship in Florida in January, while her good friend and long-time rival Su Oh, who unfortunately didn’t get her LPGA card, made her professional debut at the Renault Castle Hill ALPG Pro-am. Over the past 3 years these two players have pushed each other to the limit on almost every occasion they have met and with all respect to their fellow competitors have been head and shoulders above the other amateur players in Australia. Su became the world number 1 amateur in 2013, while Minjee took over that mantle early in 2014.
Without question they both have the ability to get to the very top in the women’s game, it will be fun watching them and cheering them on from afar!