For as long as she can remember, LPGA star Stacy Lewis’ life — and her family life — has revolved around golf.
Growing up outside Houston, Lewis learned the game from her father, Dale, and his father, Al. When Lewis won her first major championship at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco, Carol Lewis, her mother, broke her leg after joining her daughter during the traditional plunge into the pond near the 18th green. Stacy Lewis even married a golf coach, saying, “I do,” two summers ago to Gerrold Chadwell, who coaches the University of Houston women’s team.
These days, though, golf is no longer the center of Lewis’ universe.
When the 33-year-old kicks off her 2019 season at this week’s Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, 2½-month-old Chesnee will be in charge.
“Everything revolves around her now,” Lewis said. “Your day starts when she’s ready. It’s not about you or it’s not about my husband anymore, it’s just all about her now. It’s been good.
Even so, it has been a challenge — “a life-changer,” Lewis said.
Chesnee’s Oct. 25 arrival shifted her mother’s long-established priorities, altered Lewis’ finely tuned physique and upset a well-worn schedule that once carried her to the top of the women’s game.
A world built on practicing, training, playing and competing has become an unpredictable adventure and daily learning opportunity.
Lewis now will take the juggling act out on the road for the first time at this week’s Diamond Resorts Tournament, slated to be played Thursday through Sunday at Tranquilo Golf Course at Four Seasons Orlando in Lake Buena Vista.
“I’m kind of using this next week more as a test run, see where my game is at, get my legs under me, test run for traveling with an infant and having her on the road with us,” Lewis said.
Lewis’ golf game needs a lot of attention following a long layoff to give birth to her first child. But as much as anything this week, Lewis will focus on how to manage professional golf with a baby in tow.
While her competitors are grinding on the practice range, Lewis will be grilling those who run daycare for the LPGA and labeling bottles for them in order to keep Chesnee happy.
Lewis certainly is not the only mother, just the newest one, out on Tour. A year ago, Gerina Piller was 5½ months pregnant when she played in Orlando.
Lewis guesses she will reach out to some fellow LPGA moms once she has more specific questions to ask.
By the time the Tour reaches the West Coast in March, Lewis plans to have a solid grip on her schedule and her game. A 12-time LPGA winner, including two major titles, Lewis did not résumé a full practice schedule until just a couple of weeks ago.
“Just coming back from giving birth has been a lot harder than I thought,” she said. “You lose a lot of your core and your back and your strength, so just trying to get that back first. Golfers are pretty selfish in nature. It’s hard to leave her with a sitter or leave her with your mom for four or five hours to go practice.
“But I know at the same time, I need to do it right now.”
While Lewis might have to evolve as a mom out on the LPGA Tour, selfish never would be a word associated with the pleasant, soft-spoken Texan.
Lewis’ response to the hometown tragedy of Hurricane Harvey made national headlines, inspired an ESPN documentary and became a way for her to channel her boundless energy while she was pregnant and away from the game.
On the week Harvey ravaged Houston, Lewis was in Oregon preparing to play in the Cambia Portland Classic. Distraught and devastated by the events at home, Lewis announced she would donate her winnings to the relief effort.
Lewis, incredibly, then went out and won to snap a soul-crushing a 39-month drought that included 12 runner-up finishes.
“I say that I never want to go that long between wins again,” she said. “But it gives a purpose to all those second-place finishes. It’s like I wasn’t meant to win that week. And it was held off and held off and held off, and I was meant to win that week in Portland.
“There was a reason for it. There is a bigger reason than just golf.”
Lewis’ act inspired her primary sponsor, KPMG, to match the purse and raise the pledge to $390,000. Lewis’ altruism also delivered the final chapter for the SEC Network to complete a documentary on her life, “Stacy’s Gift.”
The story celebrated Lewis’s ability to overcome scoliosis and spinal fusion surgery as a child to become an NCAA champion at the University of Arkansas, an LPGA star, a U.S. Olympian and an example of giving back to the community.
In addition to her donation, Lewis would help rebuild homes in the area and greet families upon their long-awaited return.
“It’s a testament to the career I’ve had that financially I was in a position to do that,” Lewis said of her gesture in Portland. “But also it’s always been who I am. I love to help people and to give back.”
Lewis also loves to win.
Few women in golf are as a fiery and determined between the ropes. These days, though, something — make that someone — is more consequential than a trophy that awaits Lewis outside of them.