After decades-long partnership with Smucker’s ends, LPGA in search of new daycare sponsor

Judy Rankin won all 26 of her LPGA titles after giving birth to son Tuey in 1968. Back then, the LPGA didn’t have anything set up to help tour moms. Rankin recently recalled the time tournament organizers helped connect her with a sitter who lived in a nearby apartment complex. Rankin drove over with Tuey ahead of her pro-am round, and, shortly after meeting the sitter, noticed a python resting in the largest aquarium she’d ever seen.

“I just stopped by to tell you that I wasn’t going to need you today,” Rankin told the woman as she raced back to the course where a volunteer stepped in to save the day.

“It’s not the first time a volunteer took care of him when I was in a pickle.”

For the last 29 years, players haven’t had to scramble like Rankin to find help. Smucker’s sponsored the LPGA’s Child Development Center for nearly three decades, and major champions like Karen Stupples and Catriona Matthew say they couldn’t have managed without it.

“The one consistent in Logan’s life was the daycare,” said Stupples of her now 17-year-old son. Logan still likes to stop by the center when he joins his mom on the road, stopping by to see longtime director Bardine May.

Smucker’s run as title sponsor of this vital tour program came to an end in 2024, which means the tour is in the market for a new partner to help look after the next generation.

A total of nine LPGA moms were in the field for this week’s Cognizant Founders Cup in Cliffton, New Jersey. LPGA officials say the program has helped more than 100 moms over the years.

“Obviously the LPGA tour isn’t flush with cash,” said Stupples of the tour now covering the operating costs of the center.

“It’s not always possible for players to have children and continue to play on tour,” she added, “and if you want to continue that, this is a vital part.”

The number of moms on tour ebbs and flows, but there’s been a baby boom of late. LPGA veterans Sophia Popov, Hee Young Park, Lindsey Weaver-Wright, Mel Reid and Caroline Masson are among those learning how to balance being a mom with tour life.

“To see all these kids at daycare,” said mother of two, Brittany Lincicome, “I think we have about 12 now, maybe 14, at any given week. It’s just so cool to see them all growing up together and hanging out together. Maybe one day they’ll pick up the game and we can be following them like our parents did with us.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek