Lauren Miller has played 56 holes alongside Hailey Davidson in recent weeks and estimates that, on average, Davidson hits it 10 to 20 yards past her off the tee. Sometimes, Miller — a former SMU golfer who now competes on mini-tours — will be right alongside her.
But on the first playoff hole of a recent NXXT Tour event at Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, Davidson smoked it 50 yards past her with a noticeable jump in swing speed. Miller said the ball came off like a rocket. Davidson reached a par-5 in two she hadn’t previously reached with a hybrid. Her iron shots down the stretch were higher, too.
“It was a completely different ball flight than I had witnessed over the previous 54 holes,” said Miller, who lost on the second playoff hole.
Davidson — believed to be the first transgender player to win a professional women’s golf event three years ago — has made much about her loss in distance over the years. Those who knew her well before her 2021 transition surgery, when she could hit it over 300 yards, thought she’d walk right onto the LPGA. Davidson said she averaged 255 yards off the tee three years ago and has since dipped to 245.
As for the changes Miller noticed in that playoff, Davidson said she swung out of shoes because she had nothing to lose. Down by three shots with two holes in play in relegation, Davidson was all but ready to congratulate Miller.
After taking a big lash at it on the first playoff hole, Davidson said she still had 203 yards left on a 450-yard par 5 and hit the hardest 18-degree hybrid she’d hit in eight years.
As for the ball flight, Davidson said, she’s always been a low-ball hitter and if she hits one high, it’s because she’s connected on what she’s been working on with Tony Ziegler.
“I don’t have another gear,” she insisted.
A complicated topic that divides fans, competitors and rules makers, there are many questions about what is fair, what is right, and where those concerns intersect regarding transgender participants. There are numerous inquiries about natural advantages and disadvantages, and even past transgender participants don’t always see eye to eye.
Because the science isn’t conclusive, women’s golf has been left with plenty of opinion. And from speaking with many women who play golf at the highest level, it’s clear that many would like to see the LPGA make changes to its…