Today’s Women’s Golf Day couldn’t be more needed.
Last week I listened to Hank Haney denounce women’s golf. My cheeks turned red while I listened to his casual words; I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t let his comments go. Maybe it’s due to the similar comments I’ve heard countless times before in life, especially in golf.
I started playing golf when I was 10 years old, later I played for a Division I university. Currently, I work in the golf industry and volunteer at junior girl’s tournaments on the weekends. Golf is a big part of me, but I still don’t feel like I’m a big part of it.
Not only am I a woman, but I’m also a minority. Haney’s words cut deep when he said, “I couldn’t name you six players on the LPGA Tour. Maybe I could. Well … I’d go with Lee. If I didn’t have to name a first name, I’d get a bunch of them right.”
His casual statement with co-host Steve Johnson on the radio was evidence of the sexism I’ve seen exist in our industry.
I’m sure Haney and many men have never experienced what I have, so let me explain. I’ve arrived at the golf course only to have men guide me to first tee (the red set, of course). A man, playing as a single ahead of me, hits three balls for each shot, assuming I’m too slow to play through. Friends advised, “Beat the men and you’ll earn a spot in their foursome, but don’t think you’ll be able to enter their Memorial Day tournament.” I thought my golf résumé would allow me to circumvent discrimination and stereotypes, but that would prove to be as naïve as assuming one of the world’s most renown instructors would pay attention to the tour his own female students play on.
Some people cringe when they hear “time’s up” and “me too.” People are “too sensitive,” they say. But have you ever showed up to a course only to be refused access because your gender can’t play on Mondays?
Earlier this year on “The Erik Anders Lang Show” podcast, nine-year PGA Tour player Kevin Chappell said he “likes the way it is” when referring to the all-male golf club Plantation, adding, “It’s nice to have my own place and say no you can’t come.”
The problem with the Haney controversy is that many people didn’t realize why his comments were offensive, even Haney himself.
“I guess I said something that made people feel bad,” Haney said after realizing the backlash on social media during the end of his now-suspended show.
Talk to any woman and she’s sure to have her own story. Today, we publicly say that women’s golf matters. Today, if only for one day, women’s golf is celebrated with the same fervor as the rest of the year for the men.
This week I’m reminded when someone as high profile as Tiger Woods’ former coach gives us reason to think our sport is falling stagnant, there are countless hands ready to push it forward.