Making Her Way – Lexis Withers finds her place in the game

by Tom Cade, Editor

This June, Lexis Withers will be very busy at the 2024 U.S. Open in Pinehurst, N.C., a USGA staffer happily managing the newest class of USGA Pathways Interns, opening the doors of opportunity in the golf world to their young and eager eyes.

Lexis served as a Pathways Intern at the 2022 U.S. Open, held that year at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. It was this internship with the USGA that turned her focus on golf as a career.

It was a long journey for Lexis, still just 25, to get to this point.

She was a multi-sport athlete at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School, focusing mostly in track and field, and basketball. Lexis also did join the high school golf team one year, despite not having any playing experience – but her teammates didn’t have any playing experience either, and neither did the coach. It was not an ideal introduction to the golf world. “The opportunities just weren’t there for us,” she says. “Golf as a participation sport wasn’t given any attention.”

She went on to attend the University of Washington, where she played the clarinet in the Husky Marching Band, attending all the school’s major sporting events on campus and on the road.

While attending college, she worked for three years in the athletic department, staffing the front desk and assisting with student procurement.

Graduating in June 2020, with the pandemic still bearing down on the world, Lexis started working for the Tacoma Urban League, a community-focused organization that offers information and resources to marginalized communities. She worked there for two years, eventually as the assistant to the CEO.

During her time there, she was most proud of her role in managing the “Girl with Purpose” program, which serves youth ages 11-17 in the Tacoma community. “I worked with a lot of young athletes, young girls, on how to balance practice, training, homework, family and social life. I saw myself in a lot of those young girls.”

But she always knew she wanted to work in the sports world somehow. “I wasn’t sure what,” she recalls. “But I was going to figure it out.”

And she did.

While working at the Tacoma Urban League, she began taking online graduate school classes (with the pandemic still going on) through the University of San Francisco, earning her Master of Science degree in sport management in May 2023.

“I knew I needed real-world experience, so I researched internships,” she says. And she began an impressive string of positions working for high-profile organizations such as Super Bowl LVI, Major League Baseball, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lexis (back row, third from right) and the other interns who served in the Pathways Internship program at the 2022 U.S. Open.

And then, on a whim, she applied for the Lee Elder Internship with the United States Golf Association, a 10-day program held during the week of the 2022 U.S. Open, conducted that year at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

“That experience completely changed everything for me,” she says. “The USGA’s entire approach to people was a whole new feeling, so different from the other internships I’d worked. They really were invested in me and what I could do. To this day, the people I met during that short span of time I consider to be my best friends.”

She found that the golf industry is where she wanted to be.

She signed up for another internship with the USGA, this one more long-term in the marketing department. And in September 2023 she joined the USGA as a full-time staff member, serving as the assistant manager of culture and community, supporting the Pathways Internship Program (formerly called the Lee Elder Internship) and employee resource groups.

And now it is Lexis who recruits, helps select, and mentors the USGA’s interns. When the 2024 U.S. Open comes to Pinehurst this June, Lexis will be there, shepherding the interns through their own life-changing Pathways Internship experience.

“I look back at my younger self, in my senior year of high school, and I just didn’t see any of this happening,” she says. “I had a good experience in high school, but not everyone at Lincoln had one. Every day I had a choice as to what road I was going to go. My parents really pushed me, in a good way.”

Lexis’ parents still live in Tacoma, as do her grandparents, and aunts and uncles. “I’m still definitely a Tacoma girl,” she says. “I go back there whenever I can.”

She has reconnected with playing golf as well, and uses it to spend valuable time with her parents.

Golf, you see, is for everyone.