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Former Montana State golfer Paige Crawford growing the game while making the most of her opportunities

Paige Crawford
Posted at 1:23 PM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 17:57:28-04

BOZEMAN — Paige Crawford was a standout golfer in college at Montana State. She's one of only two Bobcats in program history to win individualist medalist honors at the Big Sky Conference Championship.

Now, she's using her platform to grow the game of golf by expanding representation for Black female golfers at the pro level and beyond.

On Monday, she’ll be competing at Upper Montclair Country Club in New Jersey to defend her title at The John Shippen Cognizant Cup.

The John Shippen is a series of competitions created to provide more opportunity on the LPGA and PGA tours for the nation’s top Black amateur and professional golfers.

"Without the John Shippen, I wouldn’t be where I am today," Crawford said. "Having all that experience gives me the confidence to play better golf. I’m just so grateful for Shippen giving us these opportunities where we can just go out and play freely. We don’t have to think about the finances."

The John Shippen field is elite, and the winner gets an exemption and support into LPGA events, which Crawford was able to achieve last season by winning the Cognizant Cup and the Women’s Invitational, getting exemption into three LGPA events.

"Playing three LPGA events was a dream come true," Crawford said. "Growing up, I was watching LPGA all the time, and to actually be inside the ropes with these women I’d been watching on TV was really cool."

Crawford enjoyed her collegiate career with the Bobcats, and it prepared her for her pro career.

"I loved going to Montana State," she said. "Brittany Basye was a very helpful coach, and I loved the girls on the team. Just being able to compete with them was really amazing.”

In 2013, she became the first individual winner at the Big Sky Championships for the program since 1995 and still is the most recent player to hold that title for the Bobcats.

"That week, everything was just so solid," she said. "Everything just came together. It was just effortless. It was one of the best weeks I’ve ever had in golf."

Now, Crawford hopes to inspire others and has a mission to grow the game of golf. There are currently no full-time Black golfers on the LPGA Tour, something she is working toward changing.

"I really want to break that barrier and have more of us on tour so that kids who are young, they can see somebody that looks similar to them playing the game of golf," Crawford explained.

As she continues on her mission, her message is simple.

"My message is you can do anything you want to do," she said. "I just want Black golfers to follow their dreams. Even though we have those barriers, you can get through it. You’ll figure out a way to get to your destination."