LPGA Rookie Sadena Parks in ESPN’s Body Issue: “I want to be #1 golfer in the world”

2015 ESPN Body Issue – Sadena Parks – 01

Sadena Parks for ESPN's 2015 "Body Issue" photographed by Peter Hapak

Sadena Parks for ESPN’s 2015 “Body Issue” photographed by Peter Hapak

LGPA Tour rookie Sadena Parks is featured in ESPN The Magazine’s seventh annual “Body Issue,” on newsstands now.

Inside, the 23-year-old shares her aspirations, how her dad got her started in golf, and details of the racist bullshit she has encountered as just the fifth Afro-American to earn a LPGA Tour card. See some snippets below.

Sadena Parks for ESPN's 2015 "Body Issue" photographed by Peter Hapak

Sadena Parks for ESPN’s 2015 “Body Issue” photographed by Peter Hapak


I want to be the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world. And I don’t want to be there for the blink of an eye; I want to be there for years. I want to maintain that.”


Golf didn’t come easily to me. And that’s what attracted me to it. I was really, really good at basketball and track. But it’s difficult to work on that when you’re just made for that. Golf gave me something to work on, it gave me something to live for. I enjoy the struggle; I feed off the struggle.”

How she began playing:

My dad didn’t believe in baby-sitting, so he would take me to the range. I was an only child and he was a single parent, and he loved spending time with me. He saw my swing and saw my dedication, so he got me my own set from, I think, Kmart. I was 9 when I started going to the range. [Three] years later, I started playing competitively in junior tournaments.”

Slow starts:

“In my first tournament, I finished dead last and cried my butt off. I worked so hard, and to see it kind of crumble through nine holes, it was devastating. Who doesn’t like to win?”

“In my second tournament, I finished dead last too. I’m a quick learner, but I’m a very slow starter. My dad taught me that nothing comes easy, though. You might not be that player who automatically just starts at the top and things come to them; you are the type of person that has to start from the bottom and work your way up. But gosh, believe me, it’s so frustrating seeing how much effort you put into something and not to see the results right away.”

Sadena Parks for ESPN's 2015 "Body Issue" photographed by Peter Hapak

Sadena Parks for ESPN’s 2015 “Body Issue” photographed by Peter Hapak

The bullshit:

‘You guys can’t play golf.’” I’m just going to say ‘you guys’ because the word that this Caucasian gentleman used was so hurtful, so historic that it brought tears to my eyes at the age of 13. And my dad said, ‘This is the reason we work as hard as we do, because we want to change things. We want to show that, no matter who you are, you should not be treated the way that we were just treated.’

“My skin color doesn’t give me a good excuse to say ‘I’m not capable.’ Of course I had moments of doubt, but now I feel really comfortable [playing golf]. I know what my purpose is, and that’s what drives me. My purpose is to bring a lot more people into the game — to drive kids to understand how this game relates so much to your growth as a human being.”

“The other girls did not like me. When I started to beat them on the junior tour, some of the parents would give my dad crap or accuse us of cheating, of writing down the wrong scores. It got to the point where parents were following me and jotting down my scores to make sure that I wasn’t cheating. And those are distractions that no one — I don’t care if you’re an adult or a kid — no one should have to worry about.”

Working out:

“I’m not a gym rat. I don’t want to be obsessed with it. I’ve been there — where I love working out, and I lift so many weights that my body gets so tense to where I can hardly swing because my flexibility is gone. You have to realize the muscles you’re using in your swing; you have to work them out in your workout as well.”

The booty:

“I have a butt that is larger than I want it to be. I know it gives me power in my swing, but everybody is like ‘You’ve got a nice butt!’ I’m like ‘Well thank you, but you can have it if you want it. I’ll give it to you, it’s all yours.’

Her small frame:

For 5-foot-3, I got hops. I can touch the backboard. I grew up on basketball. That was my love. I wanted to play for Duke; I wanted to play in the NBA.”

Being raised by her dad:

“Being an only child and just growing up with my father, I didn’t know what girls did with makeup or hairstyles. I grew up just kind of being the person that I am and accepting myself for who I am. I didn’t even realize there was a certain way that girls acted and boys acted. So now as I’m growing as a young woman and I see all the stuff that we have to do [laughs] … I feel like it’s just crazy.”