BELLEAIR — Marci Doyle spent the past 17 years making an impact in men’s golf before Dan Doyle came knocking on her door.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational chief operating officer and tournament director since 2014, Marci was the first woman to hold such a position in the PGA, and the Doyle family (no relation) wanted her at the helm of their own LPGA tournament, the Pelican Women’s Championship.
Marci already was intrigued by the opportunity to get back into the women’s game — where she got her start in the golf business after college — but it wasn’t until she heard the Doyle family’s vision (short and long-term) for their newly renovated club and growing tournament that she knew this was the right move.
The Doyles don’t want the Pelican Golf Club and the Pelican Women’s Championship to be viewed independently.
“They said, ‘This is made for you,’” Marci recalled of their meeting eight months ago. “I feel very strongly that I have to believe in and have a passion for what I am a part of. It is not just a job to me, it’s about a passion. And I have to believe as much in what they are doing and that we align with what we’re doing overall.”
Marci’s responsibilities as the Pelican’s executive tournament director include cultivating relationships within the Belleair and Tampa Bay communities as well as with sponsors and corporate partners. It was a welcomed challenge as she moved from Orlando and started from scratch.
The past eight months have been a blur. She tries to keep some consistency with morning devotionals, mindfulness and creating her master to-do list, but she doesn’t get thrown off if something else is added.
With the PGA, Marci liked how the organization publicly defined what the charity dollars were going toward.
This year, the Pelican Women’s Championship is partnering with BayCare through “Birdies for Babies,” with the Morton Plant Mease Health Care Foundation and BayCare’s Morton Plant Hospital Women’s Services the beneficiaries. Fifty dollars will be donated for every birdie scored through all four rounds this weekend. The money will help provide home blood pressure kits for expecting and new mothers who are at highest risk of developing complications.
Marci also noted how little details made the difference in the PGA and how players weren’t just a scorecard on a given weekend — they had stories to share that brought them to life.
“The opportunity to come back over to the LPGA was so exciting for me to be able to help in a positive, influential way because I’ve now seen and understand what’s going on on the men’s side,” Marci said.
“And to see some of the inequities that are happening and how we need to level it out for these ladies, not only the athletes, which is super important, but also to level it out from a corporate standpoint and for these companies to show the support that they are talking about, that it’s important to them.”
Marci specifically noted the greater financial support in the men’s game compared to the women’s, something she hopes to change.
Brittany Lincicome, a Seminole native who made her tour debut in 2005, said it’s “spectacular” to see Marci in her new role.
“I think it’s easier to talk to another woman like, ‘Hey, I think we need to do this, this and this,’” Lincicome said. “And I’m not going to hurt her feelings and she’s going to hopefully get that done for us, which is really cool to have. She has a lot on her plate and she’s doing such a fantastic job.”
Lincicome immediately noticed how Marci wanted to get her involved in promoting the tournament.
“She’s just wanting to do whatever she can to make this event great for us, which is really cool,” Lincicome said. “I think her just getting the word out to fans and the spectators to come on out and support us has been fantastic.”
When her first Pelican Women’s Championship wraps up Sunday, with groups trickling in as they finish at hole No. 18, surrounded by fans and tournament personnel alike, Marci will ask herself two questions: has the group put on a good show and have they made the right people proud? If the answer is yes to both, she can take a deep breath and live in the moment.
“It feels good because you see the community truly come together,” Marci said, “and it’s the grand finale.”
LPGA Pelican Women’s Championship
Where: Pelican Golf Club, Belleair
Purse: $1.75 million
History: Sei Young Kim won the inaugural tournament last year.
Players to watch: World No. 1 Nelly Korda, Jin Young Ko (2), Sei Young Kim (4), Lydia Ko(5), Yuka Saso (6), Nasa Hataoka (8), Brooke Henderson (10), Danielle Kang (11), Patty Tavatanakit (12), Lexi Thompson (13).
Coverage: Live, 10 a.m. Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel. Live stream, 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, nbcsports.com. Taped, 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel.