Parents and competitive junior golf
Perhaps this letter struck me because I happen to know two kids playing in the U.S Amateur this week, one my nephew, one the son of a friend who grew up playing at our club. Or perhaps it caught my attention because I thought Bill Fields did such an admirable job describing the involvement of parents (positive and not-so) at the U.S. Kids Golf World Junior Championship recently. Anyway, the letter is a heartfelt one and worth a read.
Dear Editor, I have walked golf courses with my competitive golfing daughters for the past 14 plus years. I have also had the privilege of walking golf courses with the parents of countless others, including LPGA players Paula Creamer, Christina Kim, and Dorothy Delasin during junior tournaments. I am baffled by the media's delight in putting down parental involvement in the professional careers of their daughters. I know up-close and personal the amount of time, energy, finances and emotional support that goes into the early years of golf. Â Golf may be an individual sport, but it requires a team of people to support the junior player on the course and those who move into the professional ranks. College coaches and equipment sponsors would not have such a tremendous wealth of talent to recruit from if it were not for parents preparing their children for the opportunity. Â Parents are committed to the long haul with their golfing children, often helping them to finance their developing careers beyond college on the mini-tours. They are not fair-weather fans, abandoning them as has-beens or never-beens when the going is lean and the victories few, only to shower them with praise and attention after a tournament win. At a time in our culture when many rightfully lament the lack of parental involvement, it seems to me parents should be credited with a job well done rather than cast as over-protective, bothersome, and in the way. Tiger Woods described his father as his best friend, as someone who was always there for him. That is how it is with many in the competitive golfing world. It is time parents got the respect they are due. Andrea Schwartz San Jose, CA
Very well said, Andrea. As someone involved in the U.S. Girls' Junior preparation when it came to our club in 2003, I was very impressed with the kids, maybe more impressed with the parents. There were exceptions, of course, but for the most part the parents were exactly as you describe: quiet and steady supporters of their kids. They walked most rounds together with other parents, rooted for one another's children, were there to cheer their children up when things went south, and, for the most part, were very low key in the way they approached things. Which proved, I thought at the time, that such an attitude and demeanor was exactly what it took to help a junior get to the level of a U.S. Junior Championship. Thanks for your letter.