Turn the Paige
Former PNGA Women’s Player of the Year Paige Mackenzie will be sharing her opinions during this summer’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
issue of Pacific
Having not qualified to play in the season-ending 2012 LPGA Tour Championship being held in November that year in Naples, Fla., Paige Mackenzie had a little free time on her hands that week.
Or so she thought.
“I got a call from Golf Channel,” she said, “asking if I’d want to work a couple days during the tournament as a studio analyst for the event.” With Golf Channel’s studio in Orlando, it was easy for her to get there for the gig.
“It was fun to do, but I really didn’t think any more of it at the time,” she said. “I was still more focused on my own game.” And it was a game to be focused on.
Paige was born and raised in Yakima, Wash., and by the time she graduated from Eisenhower High School she had posted five top-10 finishes in national tournaments and in 2000 was named the Girls’ Player of the Year for the Washington Junior Golf Association and the PNGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year.
While playing on the women’s golf team at the University of Washington, Paige qualified for two U.S. Women’s Opens, was the 2005 Pac-10 Individual Champion, twice was named the PNGA Women’s Player of the Year (2005, 2006) and finished her collegiate career as the No. 1-ranked amateur in the country.
She turned professional in 2006, and although she earned her LPGA Tour card on her first attempt, she has had only modest success on the tour since then.
Six months after her brief stint on the air on Golf Channel in 2012, the station called her again. “They asked if I’d do the same thing for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open,” she said. “So I did. And I loved doing it, but I hope they burned the tapes. I wasn’t very good.”
She evidently did okay. In February 2014 she had surgery on her back to repair a herniated disc. “I couldn’t compete while rehabbing from that, couldn’t really even play at all, and Golf Channel called and asked if I’d be interested in being a studio analyst on a semi-regular basis. I jumped at the chance. I was happy to be involved with the game again.”
Since then, Paige has become one of the more recognizable faces on Golf Channel, appearing regularly as a studio analyst as well as performing hosting duties, such as for one of the channel’s Big Break installments. She was also the emcee at The First Tee gala fundraiser last summer, held in Seattle in conjunction with the U.S. Open.
She’ll be one of the station’s analysts for the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship being held June 9-12 at Sahalee CC in Sammamish, Wash. “I’m really excited the championship is being held in the Northwest,” she said. “There’s such a good fan base, and people are really going to like this. The LPGA has a reputation for being very fan-friendly, and at Sahalee people will be able to get really close to the players, really close to the action.”
She went on to talk about her own playing career. “I’m a little bummed that I’m not at the beginning of my career (so that I could play in it),” said Paige, who just turned 33. “There’s so much great young talent on tour, I don’t know that I can keep up with them.”
When asked about how it is to analyze the players, she said, “Sometimes it’s difficult to critique them, especially because I know them. But it’s my job to give my opinion, and they respect that.”
Look for Paige this summer behind the scenes, and on the air, at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
– Tom Cade, Editor