It is quite an accomplishment to achieve greatness at the highest level of golf. It is even more impressive when you do so while constantly fighting Type 1 diabetes. But seven-time LPGA winner Michelle McGann, 51, has spent a lifetime learning how to live with the disease. “My whole family was shocked when my mom, who is a nurse, gave us the bad news when I was 13,” says McGann, who grew up in Palm Beach County and fell in love with golf at age 7. “We worried that I would never be able to play golf again. But we soon realized that if we educated ourselves about this disease and managed it carefully, I would be able to pursue my passion and become a professional golfer.”
McGann joined the LPGA Tour at age 18 after winning three Florida State Junior Championships and graduating from Rosarian Academy. With her strong, upright swing that had to be tempered on some of the tour’s shorter courses, McGann became a solid player and won many tournaments while struggling with her sugar levels.
“I had to guess how much insulin I should take,” she recalls. “I lost the U.S. Women’s Open in 1993 because it went so low, I didn’t know where I was or what I was doing. Fortunately, my dad was with me.” Since those days, detection has improved with new technology—today, McGann wears the Tandem Insulin Pump that works with a Dexcom sensor to control the amount of insulin received. She gets readings on her phone and her wristwatch, and her parents, brother, and husband also see the numbers in case she falls asleep.
Her success in the LPGA coupled with product endorsements—she is currently a brand ambassador for JoFit women’s sports apparel—have enabled her to give back to the community via The Michelle McGann Fund. In 2012, she and her husband, Jonathan Satter— former Secretary of the Department of Management Services for the state of Florida, whom she married in 2010—wanted to do something to help families with diabetic children. “I was lucky to have a nurse for a mom, but that is not the case for everyone,” she says. “We hoped to empower families by giving them support and education. We send kids to camp and give suggestions on proper preventative and treatment protocols.”
To raise money for the fund, they host an annual golf tournament at Lost Tree Club in North Palm Beach, where McGann goes around the course and hits a shot with each child. “I love to see who is benefiting from our foundation, and I can hear the kids tell stories while we golf,” she says.
Outside of her foundation work, McGann spends her days taking acrylic painting lessons, where she creates portraits of pelicans, fish, leaves, lobster, crabs, seashells, and her goldendoodle, Teddy. She has also been engaging in back therapy three times a week as rehabilitation from surgery she underwent last year for two herniated discs. She says she is eager to eliminate the back pain so she can resume the Legends Tour, the official women’s senior tour of the LPGA.
“I want to play the July tournament in Fairfield, Connecticut and others after that,” she says. “I have spent quality time with my family during the pandemic and was lucky to enjoy the Florida blue skies and ability to be outside. But I am eager to get back to playing golf!”