The USGA has announced updates to its family policy to offer more flexibility for players who have qualified for a USGA championship but not be able to compete due to becoming a new parent.
With input from a number of players, including Stacy Lewis, the new USGA policy gives a player or a team which has earned a place in a USGA championship -- either through qualifying or exemption -- an opportunity to defer her or his place in said championship for one year due to maternity or paternity. A player can request an additional one-year extension on the deferral for "exceptional circumstances."
The change is effective immediately.
"I was thrilled when the USGA asked me to participate in the process to update the policy," says Lewis.
"Last year, I experienced the challenges that new parents often face and was fortunate that the USGA worked with me for my circumstances surrounding the U.S. Women's Open. As players, we want a fair and inclusive policy, and that is exactly what this reflects."
"Updating our family policy was an opportunity to support players as they welcome new family members and also to go a few steps further," said USGA senior managing director for championships John Bodenhamer.
"We are pleased to have a policy that affords players more balance between parenthood and competing at the highest levels."
The mechanism for the deferral will allow a player to "freeze" their position in the player's respective ranking system -- pro or amateur, male or female -- before leaving competitive golf to become a new parent. If that ranking meets the USGA's criteria under their current exemption categories at the time of leave, the player will receive an exemption into the following year's championship.
This policy will apply to all 14 championships conducted by the USGA.