Meet the woman who helps make LPGA working-mom life possible

Bardine May, LPGA daycare director

LPGA Child Development Center director Bardine May has been on the job for 21 years.

Jessica Marksbury

Mondays on the LPGA Tour tend to be a little slow. Players, caddies and coaches are usually just arriving, often straight from the previous week’s venue. There generally aren’t any press conferences on the schedule, media presence is sparse and many players use the day as an offsite rest day.

Bu that’s not the case for Bardine May, who has served as the LPGA’s Child Development Center director for more than two decades. The LPGA’s daycare offering is unique in the world of professional women’s sports, as the tour is the only organization that provides childcare for its players and staff. The program is limited to tournaments in the U.S. and Canada, though it has traveled overseas for international Solheim Cups.

While Monday is the only day of the week that the center isn’t open to players, it’s still a work day for May — and a busy one at that. It involves setting up whatever space the tour has designated as that week’s childcare center to make it soothing, welcoming and engaging for the players’ children who will be in her care. Those kids range from newborns to school-age, and the week I visited, at the Ford Championship in Gilbert, Ariz., May was expecting to welcome two new babies whose mothers were fresh off of maternity leave.

“We have a lot of babies starting this year, which is nice,” May said. “We’re like a family. Our little ones really enjoy the older kids, and watching and learning from them. The olders kind of get annoyed with the youngers, but yet they like to help out and teach the young kids how to do things.”

May started her childcare career in Sioux Falls, S.D., where she managed a Bright Horizons branch at Citibank. In 2003, the LPGA became a Bright Horizons client, and May felt ready to try something new. At the time, she hadn’t traveled much — the flight to Chicago for her interview was her first time on a plane. But she got the job and embarked on what has become a 21-year tenure. It was good timing for May. A mom of three herself, her youngest was a senior in high school when she started with the LPGA. Now, May has six grandkids.

When May started in 2003, there were 27 kids in LPGA daycare and four staffers to care for them. Attendance ebbs and flows. By 2015, enrollment was down to two, and there was a question of whether or not the daycare would continue. But thanks to support from players like Cristie Kerr, the program endured. Today, enrollment is back up to 21 children.

This week, May and her two staffers were expecting nine children, all of whom come and go at various times, depending on mom’s competitive schedule. Each age group has a curriculum that May adheres to.

“We try to make it fun, yet learning activities,” she said. “So they’re ready to go to kindergarten.”

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As you can imagine, logistically, there’s a lot involved in running the facility, let alone one that travels the country each week. In past years, a designated truck would take supplies from stop to stop on tour. But post-Covid, that’s no longer the case. Now, the LPGA’s fitness trailer houses some daycare supplies, like chairs, tables, toys, travel cribs, high chairs and shelving units. Each week, May and her staff — which currently includes two other full-time caregivers, Joy Dods, whose tenure spans 14 years, and Sarah Hurd, who is in her third year on the job — unload on a Monday and pack it all back up on a Sunday. The tournament host provides May and her staff with a gift card to buy food for the children’s meals.

“Sundays are the hardest,” May said. “Because we still have children, but yet we have to pack up everything, while having children, and get it all over to the truck, because he leaves before the tournament is over. And we still have children. So sometimes we’re traveling with a suitcase of odds and ends to the next tournament, because we still need some things.”

At the Ford Championship, host course Seville Golf & Country Club already had a designated childcare space for the club’s members, so the room was nicely appointed. Each tournament is responsible for picking the space. About half the time, it’s onsite, which is convenient for everyone. Other times, it has to be offsite. May said the ideal scenario would be for the childcare center to have its own trailer, but that would require a designated sponsorship — something May and her team are hoping will come to fruition.

Perhaps the LPGA daycare’s biggest differentiator is its flexible hours. On the PGA Tour, players can avail themselves of daycare at set hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On the LPGA Tour, the daycare caters to the moms, so the center will open as early as 5:30 a.m. on a tournament day, and close after dark. In addition to childcare, May and her staff support the moms in other ways. They have a check-out system for Pack ‘n Play travel cribs and toys, because May understands how difficult it can be for families to travel with those items.

“Whatever we can do to make their lives easy, we’re gonna do,” May said. “We’re the three really main things besides their parents that are consistent in [the kids’] lives, from birth to five years old. Because they’re going to different cities, they’re staying in different hotels, they’re going to different restaurants. All that is chaotic. This is their one secure place that they know. There’s consistency here that they need.”

May is renowned on tour for going the extra mile. She has collected children from hotel rooms during pre-dawn hours and put them to bed when mom is completing late-night media obligations, or is on the course until dark because of a weather delay. If the hours seem long, well, that’s because they are. May works seven days a week in the thick of the schedule, and is only off when there is no tournament. Several-week stretches are the norm.

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The support May and her staff provide to players is essential, especially when it comes to extending a mom’s playing career. Several of the LPGA mothers I spoke to couldn’t imagine competing without having the daycare as a resource.

“Bardine is absolutely amazing. So is Joy. So is Sarah. They honestly allow me to do my job,” said Paula Creamer, whose daughter, Hilton, is a daycare regular. “My parents still travel with me, but if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know how we could do it. I wish when I was younger I knew more about the program because it’s honestly so important to us moms, and when you don’t have kids, you don’t really think about it. But quite truthfully, they are like angels. Hilton is who she is right now, a lot because of them, and I trust them with everything.”

U.S. Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis agrees that daycare is an essential lifeline.

“It’s been great for [my daughter] Chesnee. It’s been great for me,” she said. “It allows me to keep doing this and to keep achieving what I want to achieve out here. Chesnee loves it. She wants to go to daycare; she gets mad when I go to pick her up. It’s just the comfort of, you know, you can have a job, you can have a career and still have a family. You see it so often, people stopping playing because they want to have a family. They don’t think that you can do both and, well, it’s hard, but you can.”

For May, the relationships she’s fostered with both the kids and their moms is the most satisfying part of her job. And luckily for them, she’s not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.

“I know I’m not ready to retire. I still love my job, I love the people out here, I love my staff. I truly love the kids and the parents,” she said. “It’s fun to see them do well and you take kind of a pride, like, ‘I was here helping.’ But yet when they don’t have a good round, you’re still here for them to have a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes I feel like we’re counselors, we’re mothers, we’re grandmothers, we’re teachers, we’re cooks.

“We’re whatever they need us to be.” Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on