Golf’s media darling is facing an unusual predicament: golf or TV?
The first time I met Emilia Migliaccio was Saturday at the second-ever Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and Migliaccio — then a senior communications major at Wake Forest — was placing the finishing touches on a storybook ending.
After finishing close to an hour before the final groups, Migliaccio watched as her name climbed the leaderboard, with her posted score going from a respectable top-10 finish to second place and ultimately into a shocking tie for the lead. Suddenly, she was teeing off in a one-hole playoff with Japan’s Tsubasa Kajitani, a teenager still reeling from a double bogey at 17, for a chance at the ANWA crown. Officially, the effort fell short. Migliaccio made a bogey on the first playoff hole, losing to Kajitani and clinching a runner-up finish at Augusta.
As I wandered back toward the interview area, I assumed I’d just witnessed the end of Migliaccio’s performance for the day. I was wrong.
A few minutes later, Migliaccio appeared again to talk with the assembled media. She was asked a handful of questions and delivered thoughtful soliloquys. Eventually, the conversation shifted to her future, and her eyes lit up. She was excited, she told one reporter, because she planned to turn pro shortly after the tournament ended. Not with the LPGA Tour, but rather, for Golf Channel.
“It’s all about you in professional sports,” Emilia said at the time. “I have so much more to offer, and many more things that I love. Collaboration is a big part of what I want to do. I don’t want to stress about my backswing in the middle of the night. I don’t know how Bobby Jones did what he did, but I’d like to find out.”
The most recent time I met Emilia Migliaccio, not much had changed.
It was Monday afternoon at Merion, and a smattering of reporters had descended upon the famed club for a preview event highlighting the Curtis Cup, the biennial women’s golf event pitting the best amateurs of the women’s game in the United States against those from Great Britain and Ireland.
Migliaccio was there, too. She was, of course, asked to attend as a player — she’ll be one of the most experienced competitors on this year’s American side. But she was also there as a member of the media. Migliaccio enters this year’s Curtis Cup as one member of Golf Channel’s growing stable of on-course reporters.
It’s a fascinating conundrum for a 23-year-old to navigate: talented enough to play professional golf … or to broadcast it.
In the time since her Augusta National Women’s Amateur finish, Migliaccio has worked a host of women’s golf events for Golf Channel, and has competed in a handful of amateur events, including June’s Curtis Cup. There’s enough ability there, according to a few folks around women’s golf, for her to play professionally. And according to those around golf television, enough for a long career in front of the camera.
What that means for Migliaccio is, well, it’s up to her. And as of right now, she has a clear answer: both.
“I actually thought it was the perfect mix to play competitive golf and work in the golf industry,” she told me. “I still get the drive and the motivation to practice and the experience playing tournaments, but then I also get to be in the working world and experience that side of things. So I really do enjoy both.”
Of course, those two worlds aren’t completely separate. Sports television is a natural fit for former athletes because it’s structured in much the same way. Production crews form tight-knit teams, travel around similar schedules, and, of course, the subject matter is familiar.
“I like I the preparation. You really need to put yourself out there, especially with live TV,” Migliaccio said. “I can sit here and say it’s 134 yards to the flag. But if I say, you know, I spoke with their coach earlier this morning, and they said this, it just gives another just adds depth to the story.
“It’s also a team,” she added. “The college events that I’ve worked so far, we go out to dinner with everyone on on the broadcast staff, and it’s just a good time. So I’ve had a lot of fun.”
Eventually, Migliaccio says, she’d love for her work to take on a few different disciplines.
“I definitely see myself working on air,” Migliaccio said. “Whether that’s as an announcer or as an on-course reporter, I love broadcasting. It’s like live storytelling. And so I love just kind of thinking about, okay, what is the best way I can communicate to the audience on what narrating the shot or something like that, and trying to give the best insight I can.”
But there’s time before she’ll get there in full. When Migliaccio isn’t mastering either of her chosen professions, she can found working on her Masters thesis on the impact of self-talk on player performance. In the fall, she’ll become the elder statesman of the Wake Forest golf team, competing for a fifth year under the NCAA’s Covid waiver.
Between work, school and scholarship, it’s not entirely clear when Emilia Migliaccio finds the time to dream. But it only takes a few minutes around her to realize that of all her gifts, that might be the best.
“Steve Burkowski actually told me this, he said, ‘versatility is everything.’ So I will stay in golf because that’s what I know. But if I get asked to do some another sport, or try some other thing, I’m gonna take it. I’m not gonna say no.”