Caitlyn Jenner feels most comfortable on the course

Melissa Isaacson

Caitlyn Jenner, center, who played in the ANA Inspiration Pro-Am, doesn't worry about acceptance on the golf course or off.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Playing in her first golf tournament since her transition, Caitlyn Jenner impressed both the modest gallery in the ANA Inspiration Pro-Am at Mission Hills Country Club, as well as herself.

"It was 51 degrees and 7 in the morning and, yes, I holed out [from more than 120 yards on the first hole]," Jenner said Wednesday. "The wind wasn't up but, yeah, we're having fun."

A single-digit handicapper before her transition, Jenner said she is treated "better" as a woman at her home course, Sherwood Country Club near Thousand Oaks.

"They changed everything [for me]," the former Olympic decathlon gold medalist said. "A locker room change. They went right to my handicap from the ladies tees. There was a tournament they said I couldn't play because it was a men's tournament. They're all in there, so they've been great. And next week they have a ladies tournament and all the ladies want me to play."

But her Pro-Am partner and longtime friend Danielle Kang, as well as LPGA pro Jaye Marie Green, have seen the other side -- including someone writing on Instagram that they were going to unfollow Green after she posted a photo of herself and Caitlyn.

"It kind of made me then realize what Caitlyn goes through every day," said Green, who deleted the negative comments. "That's crazy. I mean, I just posted one picture and I have 20,000 followers. She has two million or whatever."

According to Kang's mother, Grace Lee, a fellow pro told her daughter that she would not want to play with Jenner this week and was met with an instant rebuke by the 23-year-old. Jenner, who was introduced to Kang at Sherwood six years ago -- and told Kang about being transgender not long after -- greeted the LPGA player as "my daughter" when she saw her Wednesday.

"Her name was always Caitlyn [to me]," Kang said. "The other person was Caitlyn. She told me and explained it to me. People all talked bad about Bruce, but to me, he was always a nice guy, a good friend.

"I just didn't like what people were saying ... that he was weird ... so I confronted him. [I said] 'What's the deal? Why do people keep saying that?' So he sat me down at lunch at Sherwood and explained the whole deal. And I said, 'OK, let's go play golf.'"

Kang said she talked Jenner into canceling other commitments this week to play the Pro-Am, and her mother said Jenner calls Danielle "every tournament." Clearly, little is off-limits in their friendship.

"She told me she putts better now because her boobs anchor her," Kang said.

"Yes, I do," Jenner agreed.

Jenner received more interview requests this week at the LPGA's first major tournament of the year than any player, including No. 1 Lydia Ko. But as for Jenner's acceptance -- on the golf course or off -- she said she doesn't worry how many people like her.

"I don't worry about popularity," she said, "but I feel I'm in a position [now] to do more."

Related Content