A chance to compete on a level playing field with other women made all the difference in developing confidence and self-esteem as I was growing up and becoming an adult.

As a young woman of 11, I first began competing in badminton tournaments for the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, Oregon. In high school I played for Lincoln’s Tennis Team, and in college I played for the University of Oregon Badminton team. I thrived playing in competitive sports.

Sometime after college, my father and a boyfriend–my mixed doubles partner in badminton–taught me how to play golf. I loved the game, but didn’t feel I was a very good player, until my stepmother invited me to play in a women’s round-robin at her golf club. I’d never played golf against other women. It turned out I could hit the ball off the tee just as far, often farther than the other women.

I had never realized what a huge difference a man’s wing span and musculature made until that day, and it took my breath away.