Golf Food for Thought


The e-mail messages come in all shapes and sizes and tones and biases. Every once in a while one arrives that gives you more pause than usual. The one I have decided to reprint today in its entirety feels to me, like it contains America-bashing -- which is not a good thing. But I think it also contains a lot of food for thought. It was in response to a column I wrote recently pointing out the failures of recent American Rookies of the Year to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

It came from someone named Rebekah. And I will let you decide which parts you feel are valid and which are objectionable. By the way, I have nothing against Annika Sorenstam.
A tale of two gifted third graders:

Chinese born female: top of the Math class -- everything done way beyond the call of duty. Parents hire classroom teacher to tutor her in the fourth grade math book -- they want her to be way ahead of the game.

American male: incredibly gifted at Math -- can 'see' solutions without being taught how to work through the problem. Arrives at school several times per week with written excuses from parents why he can't complete his homework. Fails tests because he doesn't do homework.

Yes, these are individual cases but I laugh when my friends who teach at the University level are now seeing the same trend.

As a generalization, my foreign born parents would come to me and say, '(W)hat can I do to help my child be more successful?' And, they would go home and work through the suggestions and come back for more!

American parents (and, of course, this wasn't every one but it was a large percentage) would come in with everything from mild excuses to outrageous blame including, '(W)hy do you hate my child and want to fail him/her?'

I saw an article last week -- I'm sorry I don't remember where -- about a study that happy and contented students were actually less successful than unhappy students. This generation of(:) Americans have lost the work ethic that characterized the Americans at the turn of the last century. They have been taught to look for excuses and tomorrow will be another day. Mathematics and Science are lacking American students because they're subjects that require work and they just aren't 'fun'.

Of course, it's a generalization and my international parents were oftentimes students themselves working on advanced degrees. But your international golfers represent the same self-selection: they intend to take full advantage of the opportunities that they've worked hard to give themselves and they are the best of the best. Villegas is a perfect example -- arrived at UF underweight, saw that working out would improve his golf game... no excuses, he became a gym fanatic. Kind of like the women of the 70's when breaking gender boundaries -- they knew they had to work twice as hard and still couldn't expect to be GIVEN any breaks:-) Foreign golfers on American soil have to work hard to prove themselves and even when they do (see Sorenstam -- ((and exactly why do you dislike Annika? -- you make such a face whenever her name comes up -- like you're looking at a vegetable that you hate)), anyway, they often aren't given the recognition that they deserve.

Unfortunately, it's a huge trend in the American culture that the children of the 80's, 90's and 00's have been taught to look for excuses rather than gutting it out and working for the goal. My latest take on Tiger is that Earl maybe wasn't trying at first to raise a world class golfer but Earl had lived through the segregation era before the 60's and through the Vietnam (W)ar perhaps he was only trying to give Tiger the mental stamina to survive the racism and brutality of Americans against black men.

An untempered sword will break in battle. When a sword is forged, it must be heated then beaten... heated then beaten... and the process continues until the blade is hard and razor-sharp. Tiger was carefully forged. The Depression and WWII forged our parents -- Palmer still does not take for granted what the game of golf has given him. Laura Davies is one who always is grateful for what the game of golf has given her. Unfortunately most of our young American golfers were raised in relatively affluent homes (I'm including middle class because American middle class is a very high standard of living) -- things come easily to them. Michelle (Wie) is the perfect example -- she is being handed exemptions, money, fame, etc. and given excuses when she doesn't perform. Oh let's just casually drop out the fact that she was T26 at the Women's British when we calculate her placement on the LPGA for 2006 -- does this now mean that I can drop my worst hole from my scorecard?

Karrie Webb's comment at the Trump a few years ago when Annika surged ahead of their rivalry is appropriate -- I don't want to work that hard. She's obviously changed her mind as her game shows this year.

But there was also (John) Feinstein's comment in I believe it was a Good Walk Spoiled that he actually spoke with players that would rather be just below the limelight -- a great living without the hassle (I'm obviously paraphrasing).

Somewhat on the same subject -- yes, I agree with you that Lorena (Ochoa) will be a great LPGA player... she does know what it means to do the required work and, like Laura Davies, is appreciative of the life golf provides. My husband and I have been looking for this year since we noted her college career. She looks quiet and demure but it has been obvious for a long time that she has Annika's drive and determination.

And on a final note, I didn't bother to count how many Englishmen were ahead of Rose in the World Rankings -- I don't really care but when you said there were two Simon's -- I also immediately knew who they were. Don't underestimate your golf addicted viewers... TGC does carry the European Tour and the Simons have contended this year.
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