Lizette Salas: My Journey—Courage
Learn how LPGA Tour veteran Lizette Salas overcame adversity and took an unconventional path to make her mark on the golf community.
LPGA Tour veteran Lizette Salas took an unconventional path into professional golf. She hails from Azusa, Calif., a primarily Hispanic suburb just east of Los Angeles, and both of her parents are Mexican immigrants who came to America to build a better life for their children. When Lizette was young, her father Ramon took a mechanic job at Azusa Greens Country Club. With little money, he wanted his daughter to find a passion, instilling in her that if she worked hard enough, good things would happen. He gave her three golf clubs he found at the course, including a 7-iron that was so heavy he had to drill large holes out of the back of the clubhead just so she could swing it. Lizette started hitting balls, mainly because she wanted to spend time with her father at the course, but she quickly showed promise. Ramon started trading odd jobs with the course pro in exchange for golf lessons for his daughter. And she improved, eventually landing a spot on the University of Southern California women’s golf team.
Being a Hispanic scholarship player at a Division 1 school raised some eyebrows in the beginning. “I was told maybe I shouldn't play this game because I looked a certain way,” recalls Lizette. “That doubt just gave me the extra courage to keep putting myself in a very vulnerable place and saying, ‘I am who I am and that's okay.’” She earned her LPGA Tour card in 2012—qualifying in her first attempt—and immediately knew professional golf was where she belonged. Now 32, she has amassed $6.6 million in career prize money, including $1.14 million already this year.
Professional success allows Salas to enjoy her other interests, such as basketball, shopping, Zumba, music and Latin dancing. But she will never forget where she came from, nor the obstacles she faced along the way. “Inclusion and diversity mean tackling adversity with strength, passion and sometimes fear, but also owning that fear and understanding that discomfort comes along with something better at the end of the tunnel,” she says. That’s exactly why Aon’s commitment to embrace inclusion and diversity within the golf community will create a more positive environment for all. To Salas’ point, Aon treats men and women equally with its season-long Aon Risk Reward Challenge, rewarding the Challenge winner from each tour a $1 million prize.