Michelle Wie West and Kent Bazemore 'floored' by LPGA hoodie support

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Michelle Wie West asked her long-time friend, Golden State Warriors player Kent Bazemore, who watched her at the U.S. Women's Open in San Francisco a few weeks ago, if he wanted to play in the KPMG Women's PGA pro-am on Tuesday.

“Am I in town? Of course!” Bazemore responded with enthusiasm. Naturally, the pair were interviewed after their Tuesday round.

If you’re a basketball fan, you may recognize Bazemore for being one of two Warrior players to first publicly wear the LPGA #HoodieForGolf that Wie West designed to broaden the reach of women’s golf.

After a few months, nobody, including Wie West and Bazemore, knew how big the response would be from dads, to college players, to the PGA Tour, to NBA players, and the entire LPGA Tour.

“I was excited to kind of wear the hoodie and get it out there. It took off, actually. I was really floored by the response,” said Bazemore on Tuesday following the pro-am.

Bazemore and his Warriors teammate, Damion Lee, first wore the pink-and-blue tie-dyed hoodie in April. The photos went viral and the hoodie was sold out in 3 hours.

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Before Wie West thought of a hoodie, ideas circled in her head about how to promote the tour. She called Roberta Bowman, the LPGA’s chief brand and communications officer, to brainstorm.

“I remember calling Roberta, I have this crazy idea. She's like, OK. She jumped right on board from the get-go, and Roberta and her team at the LPGA worked day and night trying to get this figured out,” Wie West said.

Inspired by the WNBA’s #OrangeHoodie and SheIsSports’ #WomenWorthWatching campaigns, the LPGA hoodie and #HoodieForGolf was born.

“When Kent and Damion wore it going on the plane, it just really blew up in the most viral way possible, and really got the word out there, so we're really grateful for support from NBA players and friends and such," said Wie West, who is married to the Warriors director of basketball operations. The large and extra-larges were sold out first, and they keep selling out over and over again. It's just so amazing to see the support of dads wearing it, male figures wearing it.”

The PGA Tour hopped on board, too, creating a video with the top male players in the world repping the hoodie and supporting women’s golf.

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The proceeds of the hoodie go towards the LPGA Renee Powell Fund and the Clearview Legacy Foundation. The LPGA Renee Powell Fund provides “needs-based grants to LPGA*USGA Girls Golf programs to increase participation by girls in Black communities. The grants provide access, instruction, equipment and additional resources to introduce girls to golf and keep them in the game,” stated by LPGA writer Leia Schwartz.

Powell’s father, Bill Powell, encountered racial discrimination in golf after returning home from World War II. He decided, in response, to build his own golf course where everyone would be welcome and established Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio in 1946. His daughter, Renee, the second Black player on the LPGA Tour, is currently head professional at Clearview. To this day, Clearview Golf Club is the only course designed, built, owned and operated by an African American.

Clearview Golf Club
Clearview Golf Club

“Hopefully, [the hoodie] will help give more kids the opportunity to get access to this sport. As we all know, it's not the cheapest game to get into. There's a lot of walls to get past. Hopefully, this can break down some barriers and give more access and resources and opportunity," Wie West said.

“If that opportunity wasn't given to me. if I didn't have the resources to fly to the mainland and play in the USGA events or go to the LPGA events, if I didn't have people that supported me, believed in me, I wouldn't be where I am today no matter how talented or good I was at the sport. It’s all about equity into the game and into our youth.”

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