News From Terre Haute, Indiana

On & Off the Course

August 20, 2006

On and Off the Course: Watch out for girls golf youth movement

Here’s a warning to any sexist, egotistical, “ruler of the course” males still out there: Beware: the girls are coming. And I don’t mean that they’re coming to a golf course near you, to play badly and slowly, and drive you off your game. I mean they’re coming, and they’re bringing weapons! Big weapons, like 280-yard drives (and longer), and short games that will have you stammering in your backswing. Egos will have to be checked at the front door of the clubhouse, because it’s going to hurt when you see just how much game they’ve got, and nary a big bone to stand on.

A case in point: The Women’s Amateur at Pumpkin Ridge this year was won by 14-year-old Kimberly Kim, all 5-foot-5 and 115 pounds of her, ponytail, braces and all. “Kim Squared”, as her friends call her, was one of 16 girls between the ages of 14 and 16 to make it to the match play section of the amateur. That was a full one-fourth of the field.

Whether it’s the influence of Tiger Woods extending to the girls’ game, or perhaps Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer, Annika Sorenstam and the rest of the LPGA and the professional and definitely classy game they represent, golf has become “cool” to girls across the country now. It could be that it is seen as a great way to make a living, so parents are getting them started younger and younger. Those with big dreams and big pocketbooks are using every means available to help their young protégés too, with swing coaches, all the best equipment, and the funds to travel the country in some big name junior tournaments.

Whatever the reason, the numbers are up for girl’s golf. On the national level, girl’s golf has grown by leaps and bounds. The first year of the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 1949, there were 33 entrants. In 1950 there were only 18 entrants. Fast forward to 1995, in which the tournament attracted 267 girls, but then more than doubled to 618 players the next year!

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