By Jeff Babineau

BELMONT, Mich. – Paige Crawford is 31 years old and has been chasing a golf career since college; last year marked the very first time she was able to play a full schedule. She is entered into this week’s event at Blythefield Country Club having won The John Shippen event last week, which offered a spot into the field for the winner. 

The John Shippen, which runs events on the PGA Tour as well as the LPGA, is designed to get better access into professional golf for Black golfers.

Crawford shot 1-over 145 over two rounds at Blythefield, edging Anita Uwadia by a shot. Crawford trailed by four shots with nine holes to play, but rallied for the win, sinking a 12-foot putt on her final hole to clinch the trophy. Crawford, a former Big Sky Conference individual champion at Montana State, expressed her thanks to The John Shippen and Meijer for such a great opportunity. It is her second LPGA start after playing the LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup last month (missed cut). She also has teed it up twice on the Epsom Tour. But mostly her play has been on smaller mini-tours. 

“It’s an amazing experience. It’s life changing for us,” Crawford said of her start at Meijer. “We don’t get these opportunities often, and so I’m just so grateful for them. This never would’ve happened without The John Shippen.”

Seeing the LPGA up close has allowed Crawford to see the value of short game. She got to play seven holes earlier this week with the Jutanugarn sisters – Ariya and Moriya – and as long as Ariya was off the tee, Crawford marveled at how the two performed around the greens.

Crawford plays the mini-tours, criss-crossing the country in a 2018 Ram Pro Master van that she put 32,000 miles on in 2022. It’s her home on wheels, and keeps her from the rigors of airline and hotel reservations. She said can imagine no other way to travel to golf tournaments and see the United States.

Crawford landed a first sponsor (Carry), where golf fans can log in and are able to financially donate and invest in players. It was what allowed her to afford to play more than her normal four or five events in years past.

Crawford said most of her meals on the road are cooked on a trusty two-burner Coleman, though this week at the Meijer, she said she is making the most of player dining. (“People are always asking me, ‘Do you eat camp food?” she said.) How did she celebrate after her victory in the Shippen? “I think I had a cookie,” she said, laughing, “and then I spent the night in the parking lot at Cracker Barrel.”