“I mean I never watched pro golf growing up. Rarely. I would spend all day at the golf course, the last thing I wanted to do was go and watch golf. I remember channel flipping, seeing on Golf Channel, and I was like, there are no women! Seeing these guys on the Golf Channel, interviewing the players, I was like, why can’t I do that? Why aren’t there more women doing that? Why isn’t it more diverse? Well maybe there is a place for me somewhere.” Stephanie Wei, golf broadcaster, writer and blogger.
Stephanie grew up in Washington state and played golf all through high school. A bad car accident at age 17 put a temporary hold on her training, but, after high school she was able to move across the country, accept the offer of attending Yale University in New Haven, CT and play the sport she loved for the university’s women’s golf team. This wasn’t without trips to the doctor, often, to manage chronic pain lingering long after the car accident in her teens. Even though she achieved much success in golf at Yale, after long deliberation, thinking of her own health and her own future, her senior year she decided to walk away from the sport she loved.
She gave time some time, and as always, time heals everything.
Fast forward to now, where Wei operates her own golf site, www.weiunderpar.com (one of the leading sites in this golf industry), reports for Fox International where she offers her individual style and voice for their golf coverage, and writes for a plethora of sports outlets (current and past) including Sports Illustrated, golf.com, espn.com, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, and more.
She found her place in this male-dominated world of sports.
This did not happen overnight, though. On the outside we notice the success, unaware of the hard work, dedication, and trial and error this took. Wei graduated Yale with a history degree, with the plans of going to law school. For about 14 months she worked at a law firm, and realized that everyone was miserable there. Everyone. Before she got too deeply involved in law as a career, she was handed a reality check. Was law school really for her? She then looked into finance jobs, got a ton of offers, and decided on a large firm where she made a great amount of money, and on paper it was a dream job. But, just not her dream job. She went through a period of finding herself and holding jobs in fashion, public relations, and non-profit, realizing that money didn’t drive her and she could be happy doing something that she was passionate about.
As Wei built her network of professionals, she started surrounding herself with people who were opening doors left and right, and when a good friend urged her (forced may be a better word) to contribute to her new website, guestofaguest.com, she scarily accepted. She did a ton of research, kicked her fear to the curb, and began writing. When another friend decided to bring her out to a course to play a round of the game she once loved, she fell in love again.
“I started a (golf) blog on Tumblr, and signed up for Twitter. I researched, I watched golf every day, I studied it, ya know, read everything. I started engaging with other writers, and then they would follow me back. I then reached out to other sites, that were golf blogs at that time, and introduced myself and sent them links if I had something worthy of linking them to. That is sort of how I networked. That started getting me attention from the main stream,” Wei told me in an exclusive one on one interview at the charming Marlon Hotel in NYC’s Greenwich Village.
What are Stephanie’s thoughts on women in the industry? There are tons of women, now in 2017, that are either in the industry or strive to get there at some point as an athlete, journalist, or behind the scenes in a more specific capacity. “I think it’s very important. When Augusta National finally, in 2012, finally, decided to admit women members, they host the most well recognized golf tournament in the world, the Masters, and the fact that this club, that has so much power, had NO women members. Trying to explain that to my friends in NY what a big story that was embarrassing. It made me also realize how wrong it was. So, I wrote this column for the Seattle Times being like, we’re celebrating this, it’s 2012! The reactions I was getting trying to explain to people, ‘WHAT?! They had no women members?’ It’s so foreign, especially in NY. I just think diversity is important. Having different perspectives out there and to be treated like an equal is important. I never wanted to be treated differently. I never thought I should stand out. All my life I was never told or thought that I couldn’t do something because I was a woman.” Wei is an Asian-American, female, on a golf course dominated by white males. Her struggle at the start of her career was apparent, as the older, seasoned male golf reporters didn’t treat her with the utmost respect. Until now.
As Wei is still fully immersed in the golf world, she is not ready to step away. She is, however, looking at different ideas for the future of her career. “Politics have always interested me. I don’t know if I want to be a political reporter, but, being engaged. This summer I started realizing, I studied British political history, particularly in the 1930s, in Europe, which is the rise of Hitler, Nazi appeasement policy, so, there are some parallels. I just realized that, I don’t like having discussions when I am not informed. When I ask people why they didn’t like Hillary, why Hillary was such a corrupt, terrible person, I would never get a straight answer. I then was like I have to do my research, because I am not going to get into a discussion with someone unless I know what I am talking about. I over research everything. I tend to over report. I just want to know everything. In order to be as informed as possible.”
She has ideas. She has passion. She has drive. But, in five years where does she see herself? She doesn’t know. Golf? Politics? Another sport? (Wei is interested in expanding her sports coverage, too) “I have no clue. But I think it’s going to be okay.”
If she could describe herself in three words, what would those words be? After careful thought, because really, there are tons of words that she could have chosen, the both of us settled on optimistic, passionate, and curious being the most wholly descriptive.
Stephanie Wei has the presence that can capture a room. It is no wonder why her golf stories and television coverage can hold an audience and be praised for her “dynamic voice and unique perspective.” Confidence just beams from her soul. If I can take away one thing personally from this sit-down, it would be that us girls, we can do anything. Just be passionate and confident, and work hard, and the puzzle pieces will align amidst the confusion.