Introduced on the eve of the 75th U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Champions Golf Club in Houston, the “Women Worth Watching” movement represents a long-term commitment by the USGA to use its championships and platforms to celebrate female athletes and role models while promoting equality and diversity in sports and society.
Created in coordination with SheIS Sport, the USGA’s Women Worth Watching efforts came to life during the U.S. Women’s Open. Fans around the world saw content across NBCUniversal and USGA channels that spotlighted extraordinary women, including four remarkable females from Houston.
The campaign also highlights equality issues facing the sports world, including the fact that women’s sports in the U.S receive only 4 percent of all sports media coverage.
“Starting in 1895 with the first U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, supporting females in the game of golf has always been a pillar of the USGA,” says Craig Annis, USGA chief brand officer. “Women Worth Watching gives our organization a new platform to not only celebrate the exceptional talents of female athletes in 2020, but also make strides to improve equality in sports far into the future.”
During championship week, the USGA hosted a virtual roundtable discussion that examined how to elevate women’s sports. The roundtable featured some of the most influential females from both inside and outside the golf industry, including Cathy Engelbert, commissioner of the WNBA; Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool Sports; and Molly Solomon, executive producer of Golf Channel.
Included among those who will lend their voices and platforms to the initiative are USGA champions such as Michelle Wie West, Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and Bryson DeChambeau, as well as prominent athletes such as Sue Bird, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Wilson.
Wie West, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion, will serve as a Women Worth Watching ambassador. Wie West participated in the first Women Worth Watching commercial that ran on NBCUniversal in September during the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club, which was won by DeChambeau.
“The USGA has always been a proud supporter of women’s golf, which makes my U.S. Women’s Open victory that much more special,” Wie West said. “Women Worth Watching is the next step in their continued promise to amplify the women’s game and its champions, and I’m honored to be a part of an initiative that will create a better world for females, including my daughter, Makenna.”
As part of the USGA’s commitment to give back to local championship communities, Women Worth Watching shared its spotlight with four incredibly talented local Houston women who embody the initiative:
Ashley Yen is a 2020 USGA-American Junior Golf Association Presidents’ Leadership Award recipient. At age 17, Yen has already accomplished significant results on and off the golf course, including starting a nonprofit, Kits 2 Kids, that has distributed over 1,000 STEM kits to organizations in the greater Houston area. Yen also volunteers with The First Tee of Greater Houston as a junior coach and mentor.
She also won the 2020 LJT Texas Girls’ Invitational.
Shea Groom plays for the National Women’s Soccer League’s Houston Dash. The Dash midfielder, a native of Liberty, Mo., is known for her tenacious playing style and signature “Air Groom” header that has made her one of the league’s top players.
Jessica Meir (Ph.D.) is a NASA astronaut based at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. A true ceiling breaker, Meir completed the first all-female spacewalk in 2019 and was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
Dr. Roberta Schwartz is the executive vice president and chief innovation officer of Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. Schwartz, a breast cancer survivor, is responsible for advancing and expanding Houston Methodist’s digital innovation platforms, including telemedicine, artificial intelligence and big data.
For more on the Women Worth Watching movement, click here.