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USGA allowing expectant mothers and fathers to defer championship eligibility

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Expectant mothers and fathers can now defer their eligibility for USGA championships if a baby’s arrival or planned arrival affects their qualification.

That applies to the U.S. Women’s Open, the U.S. Open and other USGA events.

“Updating our family policy was an opportunity to not only help alleviate some of the stress that our players faced while growing their families, but go a few steps further,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships. “We are pleased to have a policy that affords players more balance between parenthood and competing at the highest levels.”

Last year, the USGA granted special dispensations to new mom Stacy Lewis and expectant mom Brittany Lincicome. Lewis used it to play in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open after her maternity affected her eligibility. Lincicome deferred her dispensation to assure her spot this year.

The dispensations were granted while the USGA worked out details on the new maternity/paternity family policy that was officially implemented today.

Under the new policy, expectant moms and dads can defer their qualifying spot for at least a year, and in “exceptional circumstances,” possibly for an additional year.

The new policy allows a player to “freeze” or “lock in” their Rolex Women’s World Ranking or World Amateur Ranking position before taking maternity leave, enabling them to defer their eligibility to the following year, or possibly two years.

The policy includes families affected by adoption or surrogacy.

Lewis was among players who helped develop the new policy.

“I was thrilled when the USGA asked me to participate in the process to update the policy,” Lewis said. “Last year, I experienced the challenges that new parents often face and was fortunate that the USGA worked with me for my circumstance surrounding the U.S. Women’s Open. As players, we want a fair and inclusive policy, and that is exactly what this reflects.”

Players requesting deferrals must submit written requests to the USGA no later than 14 days prior to a championship’s start.