Liz Moore decided to work for the Ladies Professional Golf Association for two key reasons: one, she jumped at the chance to work in the athletics industry, being a sports fan and an amateur player herself. Two, she felt a kinship toward female athletes, viewing them as fellow women in business. But her top reasons for staying at the organization as chief legal officer and corporate secretary and taking pride in her work are not the same as her reasons for joining in the first place. Once Moore got her foot in the door, she realized that the organization had a range of activities and services she hadn’t previously understood, which made her all the more excited to work there.
“I realized that the LPGA is about more than golf,” says Moore. “Really, it’s a bit like golf as an incubator for leadership.”
The professional touring players of the LPGA are some of the organization’s most visible leaders. In addition to being top athletes, the players work as independent contractors, meaning that each is like a one-woman business. The LPGA helps them take the lead in their own careers by supporting them with practical matters, like on-site childcare and on-site physical therapy services.
“When you’re playing thirty-two or thirty-four weeks out of the year, you don’t get to go home often for PT and other services,” Moore says. She adds that the LPGA will also introduce an expanded maternity policy in 2019, “so that women who are professional athletes who choose to have a family have the opportunity to have parental bonding time with their kids.” As head of LPGA’s legal team, Moore plays a key role in supporting these touring athletes by keeping up with international law in the places where they travel: thirteen countries, at last count.
The touring athletes not only lead by example, but also have a seat at the table at the LPGA. The organization’s board of directors includes touring professionals as well as business leaders from outside the organization. That balance of perspectives makes the organization more diverse and democratic.
“Our touring players are directors on our board,” Moore says, “so there is a member perspective in the room.” In her role as corporate secretary, Moore advises the board, giving them the insights they need to make informed decisions.
In addition to helping touring professionals advance their careers, the LPGA’s 1800-member Teaching and Club Professionals helps amateur players of all ages learn the game, whether they’re adults working to improving their swing or young girls just learning the game. The LPGA Girls Golf program, in particular, has proven very popular: more than eighty thousand girls between the ages of six and seventeen went through the program in 2018, Moore notes.
For girls between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, the LPGA Foundation offers the Leadership Academy, which allows them to build life skills through golf instruction and to meet with a panel of women business executives. The Academy has seen some remarkable successes, including a participant whose entry into an essay contest landed her on The Today Show, and 70 percent of program participants have ultimately received college scholarships.
For adult amateur players, the LPGA Amateur Golf Association creates local opportunities for women to play golf with others. On golf courses across the country, as members of the association not only enjoy exercise, but also benefit from strengthened social ties with each other that can pay off professionally. “Using golf as a vehicle for business and relationship development—I think that is a huge opportunity,” Moore says. Moore has played a significant role in supporting these programs, as she helped to revise the Foundation code of regulations and led the acquisition and integration of the amateur association.
Moore thinks back on the origins of the organization often, as do her colleagues. In fact, the mandate to “act like a founder” is painted on the walls of LPGA’s headquarters. To Moore, acting like a founder means providing support to the businesspeople at every turn—in addition to acting as chief legal officer and corporate secretary, she manages the IT department. She adds value wherever she can to drive toward the organization’s longtime goals of growing the sport of golf and helping the women within it take the lead. Acting like a founder also means putting forth her best effort at all times.
“We recognize how much work our members have put into the LPGA to make it successful, from the founders all the way to today. We keep that top of mind in everything we do and make sure we’re really representing them. We’re mission-driven, but also member-focused at the same time,” Moore says.
Acting like a founder also means conveying the organization’s larger-than-golf significance to outside audiences, including business partners, which Moore calls the hardest part of her job. The sports industry is very crowded with many larger organizations, so it’s hard for the LPGA to break through the noise with media outlets. Once it does capture someone’s attention, though, the company is able to sustain it, thanks to the integrity of the players and the organization’s focus on life skills and leadership.
“The athletes’ diversity in terms of cultures, age ranges, and experiences, and their personal stories are as inspiring as their golf play,” Moore says. With those women on the front lines, it’s not difficult to move the audiences that do listen.
“All we need is our chance. And when we do have that chance, we create loyal relationships, loyal followers, and committed fans,” she says.