In June, 14-year-old, Andy Zhang became the youngest player to qualify and play in the US Open. This week another young golfer makes news. Latanna Stone, age 10, qualified for the US Women’s Amateur.
When I heard about Andy Zhang I thought he was too young. I was curious what a few of the golf experts I follow on twitter thought of his age. I sent a tweet and got a reply from Stina Sternberg, Senior Editor, Golf Digest. Below is the twitter conversation.
I was a bit surprised by Stina Sternberg’s reply. I still felt that 14 was too young. My opinion is that 18 would be a reasonable age requirement. After all, the USGA has “age limits” for other championships (e.g. junior and senior events).
When I saw the news this week that a 10-year-old made the US Women’s Amateur, I said out loud (to myself) — “ridiculous.” I have no doubt the young girl is very talented but I just don’t agree with a 10-year-old competing in the event.
You might have caught that in the tweet above, Sternberg said “If you qualify, I don’t care if you are 10…” So imagine my surprise when I saw this tweet from Sternberg…
Stina Sternberg wrote a great article about Latanna Stone. Sternberg explains Stone’s background and highlights the fact this young girl is home schooled and has a “professional website”. Sternberg suggests it is time for the “USGA to revisit its own regulations.” Sternberg goes on to state that the USGA should have them “wait until they’re at least 14 to qualify for the U.S. Amateur.” I still think 14 is too young but I’m glad to see Sternberg does feel 10-years-old is too young.
I know it is common for kids today to spend a lot of time playing and practicing their chosen sport. My friends with kids spend hours traveling around on weekends to take the kids to soccer, basketball, baseball, and hockey games. But, these kids compete against other kids. I support all the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) competitions and the USGA’s junior competitions where young golfers compete against their peers.
So why the urgency to play in the other events? Because the can? Only the young golfer (and the parents) know the real motivation. I must admit I wonder if the parents worry about their child suffering from burnout or repetitive motion injuries (which could happen just when they should be peaking for a professional career.)
The bottom line is that until the age limits change these kids have a right to play in the events. It’s impossible to deny the amazing talent they posses. So, congratulations to these young golfers for making it to the highest level of amateur golf. I just hope these young golfers get to be “kids” too!