French number one Karine Icher, who earned 2 ½ points for Europe in her recent fourth Solheim Cup appearance, has described how she believes that raising her daughter Lola and playing competitively at the same time has helped her to become a better golfer.
The world number 47 from Châteauroux has placed her six-year-old into a French school for the first time this week, but she regularly uses tour day care and she says that she receives enquiries from other players about how she manages her dual role at least five or six times a week.
Speaking on the eve of her home Major, the Evian Championship, Icher said: “There’s a lot of players that want babies, so they ask me questions, how do you do this, how do you do that, because I mean, at one point in your career if you married someone, the question arises, will you continue playing golf or start a family. That’s a big point. For men it’s much easier, but for women, all of the players are going to arrive at one point, what am I going to do. You have to weigh it. You can think about your career, but you’re going to miss a lot of things like kids and married life and everything, or you can choose to have a family at the same time. But if you decide to have kids on Tour, it’s tough to combine, but we don’t have many choices.
“When you’re a player, you’re just thinking about golf and yourself, and you have to be selfish. But then when you become parent instead of player, it’s not just about you, it’s about the family, as well. We have to be very organised, think about everything, never forget something. When you’re travelling with a baby, if you forget the bunny, it’s like the end of the world.”
Tour life really is a family affair for Icher, as her husband, Fred Bonnargent, is her caddie and she believes this helps. “So many players, I think, are going to start a family but they’re going to stop golf because they don’t want to combine, they don’t want to be player and parent because maybe also their husband not caddie for them, so it’s even harder because what are you doing. The mom takes the baby but the dad never sees the baby. It’s a hard decision to take. I know some of the players stop playing golf and then they start a family. So that’s why there’s not many more kids in day care.
“Around 20 years ago, the nanny we have on Tour had at the most 27 kids. Now there are only two. It’s Lola, so my daughter, and Mason, Cristie Kerr’s son. There’s only two kids because they’re all 18, 20 years old, so we need more babies. But I think more are going to come.
“Like the American players who were in the Solheim Cup, they all want babies, so soon they’re going to be all moms, which is good for Europe!”
Icher, who is playing at Evian for the 15th time, is hoping for a strong result at the Evian Resort Golf Club this week. “Obviously it’s the last major of the year, so everybody wants to perform here. It’s my home country, so obviously I want to do the best that I can do. I’ll take anything like from a win to a top 10 or a top 5 or a top 20. You know everybody wants you to play well, so it’s a good energy rather than just too much pressure.”