Jodi Ewart Shadoff, an English professional golfer who plays on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour and the Ladies European Tour, was here in Kuala Lumpur as a participant of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia tournament. As she was recently signed by Omni United to be the brand ambassador for Radar Tires and in conjunction with its partnership with Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), pink is all I can see: Jodi has pink popping up all over her attire, along with a tasteful pink cart bag (she has been on the fields training since morning).
"I’m wearing pink for my tournaments in order to build more awareness for the cause," she replies, in return asking if I know that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. "The chances of a woman dying from breast cancer are about one in 36 and more than 25 percent of all cancers diagnosed in women are breast cancers!" To be honest, I was not aware of the statistics, so this piece of information was fairly educational, which also proved that Jodi is indeed a model ambassador.
Born in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, Jodi comes from a sporting background with her family involved in the horse-racing industry. As a child, she played football before her grandfather introduced her to golf and to her first coach. She is a two-time English Amateur champion, winning in 2008 and again in 2009. She turned professional in 2010 and played on the Futures Tour. Jodi’s big break came in 2011 when she finally qualified for the LPGA Tour.
You started golf at the age of eight, thanks to your grandfather. Was he a golf enthusiast? What was his reaction when he found out that you were going to pursue golf full time?
My grandfather played a little, yes. And back then, I grew up being the only girl playing football, which was why my grandfather went, "We’ve got to get you away from all of the boys!" and chose golf for me. However, his plan didn’t really work out as I was also the only girl playing it. Nonetheless, I’m really grateful for what he had done for me. Sadly, he passed away when I was 16 and I was still an amateur during those days. But even then, he knew that I was going to make it in this sport and I’m pretty sure he would be proud of where I am now.
What are some of the challenges you had to face to be where you are today?
In general, women’s golf is difficult. In terms of attention, sponsorship, TV time and what not, we don’t get much of it. They will all go to the men, while women have to work extra hard to be where they want to be. On a side note, presently, the tour is going on well and the commissioners are doing a great job building and bringing in sponsors. Over the past three years, the game is a lot more popular than before and I think it’s thanks to the Olympics. Golf being recognised by the leading international sporting event… it has become a huge step for the women’s team. Coming back to challenges, to me, as an amateur, unless you are at the top of the top, it’s hard to get the financial support once you turn pro. And in women’s golf, nobody really gives us any second thoughts.
Do you think it is fair?
I’ll have to admit that both men and women play two very different games. Obviously, the men are more powerful when it comes to their swings. However, golf fans and aspiring golfers who come to watch our games know that they can actually learn much more from the women than the men. The men are like superhumans and the average person or golfer isn’t going to hit the ball 350 yards with one swing, whereas the women’s game is more relatable. It’s frustrating to see such a huge pay gap between us but it is what it is and the game, in general, is heading in the right direction.
What was the best advice you have received? And whom was it from?
I’ve heard this from numerous people so I can’t pinpoint who said it first: golf’s not the be all and end all of life. A lot of players get sucked in and it’s hard not to judge yourself for the same scoring. People should realise that it’s not the end of the world if you have a bad round. It’s more important to stay patient.
How does it feel like to be recognised as a fast-rising star in the ladies professional golf association ranking of women golfers worldwide? What would be your ultimate career achievement?
I’ve been a pro for five years now and it has been a long journey. To be recognised as being the top is huge for me; to have such great support from my team, I’m proud to be where I am today. My biggest career achievement to date was when I played in the 2013 European Solheim Cup team and won my singles match. It’s pretty much the highest point you can get in this industry and the best golfing experience I’ve had as a professional.