When 2021 Evian Championship victor and seven-time LPGA victor Minjee Lee was spotted caddying for younger brother Min Woo Lee at the Masters Par-3 contest in Augusta, it sparked observations on how women’s golf didn’t get its own Masters event at the famous old course.
While Minjee Lee does want to see the women’s Masters at Augusta, she also thinks the sport needs to become much more accessible for younger women. As for the caddying, she says it didn’t just benefit her brother’s game…
RSNG Of course the sight of you caddying for your brother, Min Woo Lee, led to an intensified debate about a Women’s Masters at Augusta National. How do you feel about that?
MINJEE LEE “Those sorts of decisions are never for the golfers themselves to decide. Naturally as a female golfer I am always grateful for the opportunities given in this era, and I can see the pace at which the game is moving on. We are still a huge distance from where we were a generation ago, so that is something to be glad about.
“Naturally there are further steps forward that we all want the women’s game to take, and having a Masters at Augusta I think would be one of the final pieces of the jigsaw.”
The natural growth of the women’s game goes right the way down to the accessibility of golf for girls growing up all around the world
RSNG Do you think it will happen?
MINJEE LEE “Personally, I think there are a lot of other things that need to be put in place first. The natural growth of the women’s game is the main thing – it needs to be made to evolve under its own weight, and that goes right the way down to the accessibility of golf for girls growing up all around the world.
“We all want to get to the end point quickly, and I truly believe it will come, because women’s golf has never been in better shape.”
RSNG Were you surprised or disappointed at the negative reaction to you caddying for your brother?
MINJEE LEE, LPGA TOP TEN GOLFER “Not really surprised or disappointed. It doesn’t matter to me. I am not playing golf as a statement for women in the sport or men in the sport. For me it’s about enjoying playing the game, and for me that is caddying as well as when I’m on a course with a club in my hand.
“Ultimately there is no-one who wants my brother to do better than me, so if I felt I could help and advise him on the way then certainly I would love to put myself on the course and in his ear for each shot and each hole, and I was actually very grateful and very proud to do that.”
RSNG Were you nervous?
MINJEE LEE “Yes I actually found it very nerve-wracking. The whole thing! It is much easier when you are playing – it is much easier when you have the control and the ability to affect your game with a club in your hand.
“It is the same thing you hear of Ryder Cup captains. It is a huge honor to be able to lead your team, but there is a feeling of hopelessness because the work is being done by others!
“Once I managed to calm the nerves I had for my brother though, I did find it a lot of fun, I will admit. I knew it would be good for him to have me there too, and the whole family came out to support him.
“He had a good finish and hopefully that gives him a lot of confidence for the rest of the year, and next season.”
It can be very easy to lean on the understanding of someone else – but that can sometimes give you an excuse when a shot goes wrong
RSNG You must feel a special unity with your brother?
MINJEE LEE “It is a journey we have been on many times together. It is perhaps new for other people to see me caddying for him, but of course I have done that before, as he has for me, so for us it felt very natural.
“We have always played the sport as a family so it felt, and feels like, the most consistent thing and we would never want that to be any other way. It is special to us and important, and that is all that matters.”
RSNG Would you recommend other golfers caddy so as to see things from the other side?
MINJEE LEE “Definitely. It is a different way of shaping and planning what you do in the game. Many golfers are not used to being the sole decision-makers on shots, and actually removing the advice from someone else is a good exercise because it intensifies your perception and understanding of what’s around you.
“It really makes you think about the tools you have and the conditions that surround you. It can be very easy to lean on the understanding of someone else, but that can sometimes give you an exit route, an excuse, when a shot goes wrong.
“For me, it’s useful sometimes to be wholly involved in the responsibility of both the planning of the shot and the execution of it.”
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