Apr 16, 2024

Backstage Pass to Backswing Golf Events, Big Break and Holey Moley

golf media podcast

In a recent episode of the T-Time with Tori podcast, host Tori welcomed two trailblazers in the women's golf industry: Mackenzie Lyng and Amanda Cencer, co-founders of Backswing Golf Events. Joined by their friend and fellow golf pro, Morgan Reimler, the trio shared their experiences, challenges, and triumphs in building a successful business that supports aspiring LPGA players.

The Aha Moment

It all started with a fateful drive to Las Vegas back in 2015. Mackenzie and Amanda, both aspiring pro golfers at the time, were heading to a Pro-Am event where Mackenzie had been hired for a paid celebrity appearance after filming the reality show Big Break.

"I looked at Amanda and was like, why isn't this a company?" Mackenzie recounted. "And she was like, keep your mouth shut, let's do this."

On the car ride, the best friends started brainstorming—doodling potential company names and dreaming up how they could turn this concept into a real business. The idea was simple yet powerful:

  • Connect aspiring female pro golfers with paid gigs at corporate and charity golf events
  • Help these golfers fund their careers and pursue their dreams
  • Make a positive impact on women's golf

From Backswing Babes to Backswing Golf Events

With the vision in place, Mackenzie and Amanda hit the ground running. They named their fledgling company Backswing Babes and started working events, just the two of them.

But they soon realized they needed to rethink the name after a pivotal lunch meeting with one of Mackenzie's business mentors:

"Do you want this to be a company or do you want this to just be something funny you do on the side?" he asked pointedly. "Me as a business owner, I'm not hiring the Backswing Babes and I'm not writing a check to the Backswing Babes corporate wise."

It was tough to hear, but they knew he was right. On the plane ride home, they brainstormed new names through tears, eventually landing on Backswing Golf Events. Though it meant changing their logo and branding, the decision proved game-changing. Shortly after, Mackenzie landed Southwest Airlines as a client—a partnership that has lasted 9 years and counting.

Grinding It Out

In the early days, Mackenzie and Amanda worked tirelessly to get their company off the ground:

  • Amanda focused on hyping up the California market while Mackenzie tackled Arizona
  • They begged people to let them work events for free to prove their value
  • As more requests came in, they started bringing on their pro golfer friends to help

Scaling to New Heights

As demand surged, the duo knew they needed to get serious about scaling the business. In 2018, when they worked over 300 events, they focused on:

  • Hiring more internal staff
  • Implementing standard processes and systems
  • Expanding their crew of Backswing pros

Fast forward to today, and Backswing Golf Events has grown to a team of 250 female pro golfers working nearly 4,000 events per year across the country. In 2022 alone, they paid out a whopping $1.6 million to their pros.

The best part? These gigs provide the flexibility and financial support these athletes need to keep chasing their dreams.

"If you wanna work 20 events in a month so that you can save your money and play, you can do that," Mackenzie explained. "We have the opportunities."

The Backswing Impact

For pro golfers like Morgan Reimer, Backswing has been life-changing. After moving to Arizona in 2018 to pursue golf full-time, she started working Backswing events and never looked back.

"Through everything that has changed since then, Backswing has been a constant," Morgan shared. "To me it doesn't even feel like a job. I just go out and raise money for charity...it's like a dream."

Not only do the events provide much-needed income, they also open doors for teaching opportunities and connections. Many of the people Morgan meets at Backswing events have gone on to become her students.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to the mission at the heart of it all: supporting women professional golfers.

"Whether you're a teaching pro now or you're a mom who used to play professional, as long as you're personable and fun and you create the experience that Backswing is portraying, that's what's important to us," Mackenzie affirmed.

Navigating Partnership Challenges

Of course, as with any business partnership, there have been challenges along the way—especially as best friends.

Early on, when it was just the two of them, Mackenzie and Amanda sometimes struggled to navigate disagreements. But they always put the business first.

"We looked at each other and we said, well it doesn't matter if we disagree, this company's too important so we're just gonna have to figure it out," Amanda shared.

Getting an outside business coach helped them learn to communicate better. And bringing on their friend Taylor as a third partner has given them a tiebreaker when needed.

The trio's differing strengths have also been key to their success:

  • Mackenzie thrives with sales and being the face of the company
  • Amanda loves logistics and operations
  • Taylor provides a steady, even-keeled presence to balance them out

"Where I lack, Amanda thrives, and where Taylor lacks, Amanda and I thrive," Mackenzie explained. "We're all very different in our strengths and ultimately I think that helps us run the business very efficiently."

The Reality TV Connection

Interestingly, all three women have reality TV competition experience in the golf world.

Mackenzie competed on season 19 of Big Break, which she describes as one of the coolest experiences of her life, albeit very challenging.

Meanwhile, Morgan and Amanda both made appearances on Holey Moley, though in different seasons.

For Morgan, who competed on season one, the experience was initially full of unknowns. She had no idea Steph Curry would be involved or that it would air on ABC. But she took a leap of faith—and ended up having a blast.

"I had no idea what I was saying yes to, but it ended up being a fun experience for sure," Morgan shared.

One of her favorite memories? Accidentally becoming a meme after a spectacular wipeout on the course:

"There's one photo of me as I'm zip lining across a lake in a dress and I hit the deck," she laughed. "It's my family's favorite photo to just send for whatever reason."

When Amanda competed on season two, she took a different approach, leaning into her opera singing skills to stand out.

"I was like, well, I'm not the human to just be this goofy, wild character to play something. So my thing was, I'm gonna get into the door and I'm gonna sing opera."

While both had very different experiences, they agreed it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they'll never forget.

A Day in the Life of a Backswing Golf Pro

Morgan Reimler, a Backswing golf pro, shared her experience working events:

  1. Arrive an hour early
  2. Meet with the client to discuss the game plan
  3. Introduce herself and Backswing to each group
  4. Raise as much money as possible for the designated charity
  5. Report back to the client with the total funds raised

The Reality of Pursuing Professional Golf

Mackenzie, Amanda, and Morgan all shared their experiences of the challenges faced by aspiring professional golfers, including:

  • The need for multiple jobs to fund tournament entry fees and living expenses
  • The mental and financial strain of "begging" for money through personal fundraisers
  • The temptation to take on investors with the expectation of a return on investment

What's Next for Backswing

As for what's next for Backswing Golf Events, the future looks brighter than ever. In the past few years, they've expanded both their internal staff and crew of pros to keep up with skyrocketing demand.

The goal? To be the number one one-stop shop for charity golf events in the country.

But even as the company scales to new heights, the co-founders remain committed to staying in the trenches.

"We're both very similar and Taylor as well where we're all in the weeds doing what we can," Amanda explained.  "We're out fundraising when we need to...I thoroughly enjoy being in the mix of it and getting down and dirty with the girls."

With their passion, drive, and unwavering commitment to their mission, there's no telling how far Mackenzie, Amanda, and the Backswing team will go. One thing's for sure: they'll be changing lives—one golf event at a time.

To learn more about Backswing Golf Events or to inquire about their services for your next charity or corporate event, visit backswinggolfevents.com.

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