Transgender woman wins another Florida mini-tour event but still faces long road to LPGA

Hailey Davidson won another professional title on a Florida mini tour yet, despite the headlines that are swirling, still has a long way to go before reaching the highest levels of women’s golf.

Davidson, believed to be the first transgender player to win a professional women’s golf event three years ago, claimed top prize at the NXXT Women’s Classic Jan. 17 at Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, not too far from the LPGA’s season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.

The NXXT, formerly the East Coast Women’s Pro Golf Tour, has a new partnership this season with the Epson Tour, the developmental feeder tour for the LPGA. The top five earners on the NXXT points list will earn two exemptions into Epson Tour fields.

While Davidson currently leads that points list with 1,320 points, a full 150 points ahead of second place, she still might not earn any exemptions. In order to receive the Epson Tour exemptions, the NXXT must have a minimum of 10 events with an average of 40 players. So far, the NXXT fields are well short of that number.

Davidson beat 24 players in the three-round event earlier this week. She was three shots back with two to play and wound up clinching her first title in 2 ½ years in a playoff.

Should the NXXT fields grow considerably in the coming weeks – the tour goes from November to March – and reach the minimum requirement, Davidson would need to win an Espon Tour event to achieve status on that tour. A top-10 finish in an Epson Tour event as a non-member would secure her a spot in the next week’s field.

While Davidson is still miles from an LPGA card, her feat garnered plenty of attention over the weekend.

“It’s always interesting how no one gets angry until there is any form of success,” Davidson wrote in an Instragram post on Saturday. “While this win was amazing, unlike every article is saying, I am so incredibly far from the LPGA Tour with a lot of work to be done to possibly earn my way there one day.”

Three years ago, Davidson became the second transgender player to compete in LPGA Q-School and did not make the cut. She won her first professional title on the NWGA tour (National Women’s Golf Association), beating several LPGA players in the process, including Paula Creamer and Perrine Delacour.

The first, Bobbi Lancaster, was a 63-year-old physician from Arizona who earned Symetra Tour status in 2013, but ultimately spent her time traveling the country as a human rights advocate.

Davidson earned a scholarship to play on the men’s team at Wilmington University, an NCAA Division II school in Delaware, before transferring to the men’s team at Christopher Newport, an NCAA Division III school in Virginia.

On Sept. 24, 2015 – a date that’s tattooed on her right forearm – Davidson began undergoing hormone treatments and in January 2021, underwent gender reassignment surgery, a six-hour procedure that’s required under the LPGA’s Gender Policy.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek