How motherhood actually extended Michelle Wie West’s career

michelle wie west high fives annika sorenstam during the 2023 u.s. women's open

Michelle Wie West smiles during her final competitive round at the 2023 U.S. Women's Open.

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Happy Mother’s Day! This week, we’re highlighting the experiences of some of the most high-profile women in the game, each of whom share a meaningful title: Mom. Next up: Michelle Wie West.

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Last July, Michelle Wie West hit her final approach shot into Pebble Beach’s 18th green and started a walk she’ll never forget.

A year prior, Wie West announced the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open would be her final event. And on a chilly Friday afternoon on the Monterey Peninsula, the day was finally here. Her 14-over total left her well outside the cut line, but the score didn’t detract from the moment. After a decorated career that put her in the public eye at the age of 10, this walk represented her final curtain call.

Those who mattered most were present for the moment. Jonnie West, her husband, schlepped her bag beside her, while her mother, Bo (along with plenty of other family and friends), wiped away tears as they watched from the rope line. Wie West’s daughter, 3-year-old Makenna, rode along in her stroller. As she slept, Wie West came over to check in on the sleeping toddler.

Motherhood was one of Wie West’s primary motivations for stepping away from her playing career. In her final act on the course, she stayed true to her word.

“There is nothing I want more than my daughter to be in a better position than I ever was,” Wie West said in 2022. “I want her to get everything that she deserves.”

A few years prior, it would have been difficult to imagine such a scene.

Walking off the course Friday of the 2019 Women’s PGA Championship, contested at Hazeltine, Wie West was despondent. She’d shot consecutive rounds over 80 to miss the cut, and the wear and tear on her body was one of the main culprits. She’d lost faith in her body’s ability to function at a high enough level to compete. She was unsure she’d ever play high-level golf again.

“I was very depressed,” Wie West told the New York Times. “I felt like my body was letting me down. I was in so much pain.”

Then, she found out she was pregnant — but she feared her body wouldn’t be able to carry a baby to term. But as Makenna grew inside of her, Wie West grew more and more confident in her body. And once her daughter was born, it changed everything. She wanted Makenna to see her compete, and she decided to make a return to the game.

“I would’ve probably retired before [I had] her,” Wie West said. “But she actually extended my career. I really wanted to come back and play with her. So I’m really glad I got that experience.”

In a perfect world, Wie West’s return to the game as a mother would’ve resulted in more titles and another major championship. Reality had other plans in store. The injury bug continued to plague her, and she decided her duties as a mom would supersede her career as a golfer.

“I’m really glad I got that experience,” Wie West reflects now. “But honestly, being home with her more — it’s priceless. I don’t regret it. I really think I made the right decision and it’s just amazing being a mom.”

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at

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