The only complaints I’ve heard about Annika Sorenstam playing in the PGA’s Bank of America Colonnial tournament this week has been from some of the male PGA members. Let me be up front: I golf as much as possible, hang with other men who do the same and believe Augusta has the right to choose whether it allows women in their club. But I’m also hoping Sorenstam (I won’t call her Annika because 1) I don’t know her and 2) it would be disrespectful to deviate from AP Style just because she’s a woman) makes the cut and finishes in the top 10 of this tournament because she’s doing it for herself which is what golf should be all about.
Except in rare formats, golf is not a team sport. Instead, it requires intense mental discipline and control coupled with proper technique and sound judgement. There are many who argue it isn’t even a sport because of the “lack of physical exertion” and the fact that anyone of any size or shape can compete. But that’s exactly what makes it a great and true sport.
It’s like Jack Benny once answered when Johnny Carson asked him about Benny’s violin practice reginmen. “Do you get any better?” Carson asked.
“NO! ” said Benny.
“Let me tell you, Johhny, with the violin you have to practice just to be bad.”
And so it is with golf.
Don’t get me wrong, if there are more women to play on the PGA tour, then they should have to qualify just like the men. But Sorenstam was INVITED to play with a sponsor’s exemption and chose to accept to test herself against the PGA players. She didn’t want to compete with them, she is competing against herself to see how she would do under intense media scrutiny playing against more “physically qualified” colleagues.
After all, what competition is there for Sorenstam on the LPGA? Hardly any….she has won 13 straight tournaments — I think — and shot a 59 in one of those rounds. And on the LPGA, the tees play from 6,000 to 6,500 yards, the distance 75 percent (or more) of amature male golfers hit from when they play. Me? I play from the back tees, between 6,500 yards and 7,000 — but Sorenstam is still hitting the ball much farther than I and would kick my butt.
At the Colonial, Sorenstam is playing from the exact same tees as the men. Yesterday, she shot 1-over Par. She bogied the last hole, but barely missed lots of birdie opportunities on others. On another day, she might have very well finished 4-under par or so with a little luck on the greens and been in contention. Today, she has to make the cut to be able to play on Saturday and Sunday. I hope she does.
I have no problem with Vijay Singh or Nick Price speaking their minds. There are guys who truly work hard to qualify for PGA tournaments and lots of shattered dreams. But let’s also be real about this. Singh and Price are driven around in sponsors’ cars from gated communities and making millions for playing 18 holes of golf, four days a week on weeks of their choosing. What in the world do they have to fear from women golfers? Nothing. In their defense, the only real complaints I’ve heard from them is the qualification thing, but then plenty of “unqualified” older and amature male golfers also get sponsors’ exemptions.
So far, I think Sorenstam has also gotten plenty of support from the media nad most men. Alot of women probably think all men are pissed she’s doing this and most probably have no clue about the facts and reasons she’s playing.
But there hasn’t been a lot of extreme crap spewed from the usual sources and Sorenstam’s achievement is turning out to be a positive good news story on this Memorial Day weekend.
Like the New York Post headlined on it’s front page, “You Go Girl!!” I’m pulling for a top-ten finish and my only regret is that I couldn’t select her as one of my foursome in my golf fantasy league.