LPGA's 'Drive On' initiative about more than golf

Commissioner Michael Whan on Wednesday unveiled the LPGA Tour's newest slogan and initiative, "Drive On." Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images for LPGA

PHOENIX -- The LPGA looked back at its past to find its future Wednesday.

A day before the first round of the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, the LPGA unveiled its newest slogan and initiative, "Drive On," which it says recognizes the organization's storied history while empowering golfers of all ages and backgrounds.

"The LPGA today is a very different organization than we were even just 18 months ago," said Roberta Bowman, the LPGA's chief brand and communications officer, who helped developed the new campaign. "We're best known for our tours, of course ... but the LPGA is much more than that. We have been building a pipeline of activities and initiatives that reach women and girls of all ages and all playing abilities.

"Drive On is clearly rooted in golf, but it's a bigger idea. It captures the power and potential in each of us and celebrates the hard work, focus and tenacity that it takes to achieve our goals."

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan introduced the initiative through a video, which was followed by the debut of another video promoting the campaign that was posted on the LPGA's social media account.

The Drive On campaign was designed, in part, to promote the diversity, inclusion and authenticity of women's golf, Bowman said.

Following the videos, a panel consisting of LPGA Tour great Nancy Lopez, current tour golfer Lizette Salas and LPGA Girls' Golf site director Stephanie Peareth spoke about the initiative and answered questions.

"I felt for all these years that I been on the tour the story has never really been told," Lopez said. "I think as I sat there and listened to Mike and I watched everybody, I felt really proud about the women that have played this game, the founders that have given me a chance to be the person that I was on the LPGA Tour, and then still promoting the LPGA Tour and hoping to be a role model for all the little girls that come up and want to be a golfer, a businessperson, somebody special."

Also in attendance were two of the 13 founding members of the LPGA, Shirley Spork and Marilynn Smith.

Salas, who has one career win and 10 top-10s en route to $4.3 million in career winnings, talked about becoming a professional golfer against "all odds." Her parents were immigrants from Mexico -- her dad was a mechanic. She grew up in a middle-class family with no golf history. But, Salas said, her father had the foresight to get her involved in the sport.

"We overcame obstacles as a family," she said. "He is my backbone. He told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as I worked hard and had faith in myself. I am here because of that, that drive, and we're here because of the drive of the founders."

Lopez said her story wasn't much different than Salas' -- growing up in a lower middle-class family to Mexican parents.

"The LPGA Tour gave me a lot of opportunity," Lopez said. "I look at the players that I got to play with -- Kathy Whitworth and Carol Mann, Donna Caponi, Sandra Palmer. They were all very encouraging always. They didn't make me feel like I didn't belong here. They knew I had to carry the baton for the next generation and I was taking it from them. I think that was so important, that they were that good to me. JoAnne Carner, my idol who encouraged me as well. I learned a lot from them.

"It was fun to be able to take what they did for me and be able to do that for Lizette. That's what it's all about, encouraging these young women from all over the world that we're a family. I truly believe the LPGA Tour was and is my other family besides the girls and the grandchildren."