It Takes a Team – Understanding Golf Course Ratings

In my last post I wrote about how important the rating of a golf course is to the calculation of a player’s handicap. So how do golf courses get rated?

I knew that state golf associations managed the process for rating golf courses but I did not know they have volunteers that do course ratings. Of course, it makes sense when you realize that golf associations depend on volunteers for so many activities. For example, they have volunteers as rules officials, scorers, and other various roles for golf competitions.

What do volunteer course rating teams do when they evaluate a course? If you want a quick understanding here is a great video called “Go Inside A Course Rating” from the USGA. If you want more insight, read on!

The state golf associations have programs to train volunteer golf course raters. Teams (4 to 6 members) rate a course. They do the following activities:

(1) Measurement – “Each hole is measured from every tee from the middle of the tee box to the middle of the green.” This is the number we see as the “permanent” distance on scorecards and on the tee box signs or plaque on the tee box. And of course measurement also includes the full yardage of the course from each tee box.

(2) Rate Obstacles – There is a rating manual but there is still a human “decision” to be made during the rating process.

(note: I don’t have access to the actual manual so I used information I found in various articles online)

Obstacles are rated on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being “non-existent” and 10 being “impossible to avoid.” For me zero is fairly obvious (there are no visible obstacles on the hole) and I assume 10 rating is fairly obvious (e.g. a forced carry). If you watch the USGA course rating video you will see that team members have a lot of discussions on what to rate various obstacles.

I read a number of state golf association articles and they all listed the obstacles in the same order. Also, it was noted in one article that the obstacles are evaluated from landing zones for both the scratch golfer and bogey golfer from each tee. The obstacles are:

Topography: “A player’s stance or lie in the landing zone, and whether the player has an uphill or downhill shot to the green.” This was the definition I found but I wonder (and would have assumed) that how the balls lands (rolls severely in one direction) would be an important part of topography.

Fairway: “The width of the fairway from which a scratch and bogey player will play his shots.”

Green Target: “The difficulty of hitting the green with the approach shot. The size of the green and the length of the approach shot are the primary factors.” I wonder if they use the same “landing area” for the male and female scratch and bogey golfers? This interests me as a female golfer because (as noted in many articles) women often have a longer club in their hand for an approach shot.

Recoverability” and Rough: “The difficulty of a shot from the rough measuring how difficult it is to recover.” I wonder how they really measure this? Do they measure the depth of the grass?

Bunkers: “The number of bunkers, depth of bunkers, and placement of bunkers.” I assume placement would be fairway bunkers vs greenside bunkers; as well as feet/yards from the green.

Crossing Obstacles : Basically I think of forced carries (water, waste areas, etc.) but various articles also mentioned out-of-bounds (which I found very odd) as crossing obstacles but perhaps OB would be used for a hole that has an actual road (not cart path) cutting across the fairway.

Lateral Obstacle: “Lateral Obstacles include penalty areas extreme rough and out of bounds that come into play laterally on the hole.” With respect to out of bounds (OB), I was surprised it didn’t have it’s own seperate category given that the Rules of Golf have different approaches to how they treat OB versus red stake (lateral) penalty areas; but I assume each obstacle within the “lateral obstacle” category is rated independently.

Trees: I found this definition interesting, “The rating for trees depends on the size, density and distance from the center of the landing zone and green. The probability of recovering from various locations within a group of trees is also considered.”

Green Surface: “The speed and contours of the putting surface.”

Psychological: “The mental effect on play based on the number and magnitude of above-average ratings in other obstacle categories.”

The obstacles are not all equal. Each obstacle has a weight factor applied for both the scratch and bogey golfer. I don’t have access to the weights but this makes sense given the variety of obstacles being considered in a course’s evaluation. Now, since so many articles listed the obstacles in the same order, I would assume that Topography is weighted significantly more than the psychological obstacle.

Of all the obstacles above the only one that surprised me was the “psychological” obstacle. We all know that “Golf is a mental game” but I had no idea the governing bodies (USGA and R&A) actually included the psychological aspect of a hole in the rating of a course.

I also found it interesting to learn the “landing zone” is used to determine difficulty which means the “assumptions” for how far golfers hit their drive is a significant factor. The governing bodies (USGA and R&A) released a distance study in 2020 and I assume the guidelines for the course rating teams come from the distance study (or years of data collected by the Handicap departments at the USGA and R&A).

Lastly, one area that is always open for debate is how many tees are rated for both genders. I often see tweets or other social posts from women (usually scratch players that hit it long) highlighting this issue. There is an FAQ on the USGA website that addresses what to do for tees not rated for your gender.

Researching information for this blog post has me pondering the idea of looking into becoming a volunteer. If I do, you know I will write a blog post.


Time to Review the Rules of Golf

How confident are you in the Rules of Golf? I am not an expert in the Rules of Golf so I make sure I review the most common rules at the start of each golf season to get my “golf brain” ready for golf league season.

I also want to know the rules that can help me! Plus, I don’t want a penalty because I didn’t know the governing bodies (USGA and R&A) changed a rule. For example, did you know the governing bodies announced five rules changes in 2023? The two changes that caught my eye are the “ball moved by natural forces” and the “back-on-the line” relief change.

Ball Moved by Natural Forces (or the Rick Fowler Rule)

A new exception provides that a ball at rest must be replaced if natural forces moves it to another area of the course or comes to rest out of bounds after being dropped, placed or replaced. Some call this the “Rick Flower Rule” because of what happened to him at the 2019 Waste Management. This exception is to protect the player from getting unfair penalties. Ricky had a five shot lead before the debacle on the 11th hole when Ricky had multiple penalties because a “natural force” (wind, water, gravity) kept moving his ball from the general area back into the penalty area. Here is the video of the event.

This 2023 change is an “exception” and doesn’t change the rule that if your ball is in the general area and moved by natural forces that there is no penalty and you play from the new spot. For example, you hit your ball in the fairway, a gust of wind moves your ball while you are deciding what club to hit, you now must hit from the new spot (no penalty). The other exception to ball moved by natural forces deals with the putting green (see Rule 9.3 Exception 1) which basically states that if you marked it, you own that spot and you replace the ball but remember, if it is not marked and it moves (even if it is off the green) you play from where it ends up.

It’s really important to know what to do when your ball moves (especially in the general area) because if you play from the wrong spot it is a 2-stroke penalty. Here is a good video from GUR LLC Golf on various situations when your ball moves in the general area (note: it does not include the new rule).

Back-on-the-line Relief Change

You must drop on the line now and the ball can roll within one-club length in any direction (basically, think of the relief area as a one club-length circle around the ball). What makes this interesting is that the ball could roll forward and come to rest closer to the hole; which is usually not allowed when taking relief. At first I thought this was so odd since, as golfers, it is drilled into us that the ball cannot be “closer to the hole” when taking relief. As I thought about the logic for this new rule, I rationalized it as follows – because the drop is “on a line” a golfer could have chosen to drop closer on the line so it’s not an advantage to have it roll closer to the hole. I have no idea if this is the reasoning but it was how I came to terms with the new rule.

I saw a video by GIR Golf LLC explains the difference between the new rule requiring you drop on the line versus the old procedure which let you drop within one club-length of the line. The old drop process gave you a bit more “wiggle room” to try and create a better out come. For example, you could perhaps have a better line to the green by being allowed to drop one club length to the left of the line. That’s not an option now. The ball must be dropped on the line.

Also, most golfers know if the ball rolls outside the penalty area, you re-drop the ball. With this new rule you must re-drop on the line but you don’t have to drop on the exact same spot on the line as the first drop, you can drop on a different location on the line (see definition of relief area for more detail).

Other Rules I Find Useful to Know

I am also always amused each year how many golfers I play with don’t use rules to their advantage. Sometimes they don’t know about the rule and most often times they use the rules incorrectly. Here are a few that come to mind…

Embedded Ball (Rule 16.3)

Basically, if your ball is embedded in its own pitch mark in the general area you can take free relief. To be “embedded” part of the ball must be below the level of the ground. If the ball is embedded you can remove the ball from the pitch mark, relief reference point is directly behind where the ball was embedded, determine relief area (one club-length, in general area, no nearer the hole) and drop the ball.

It can be very wet in Greenville so it always surprises me when I play with a golfer that doesn’t know this rule. They also don’t seem to know how to take relief, or know that they can clean their ball, and don’t know they can also substitute the ball.

Cleaning (Rule 14.1.c) or Substituting a Ball

Everyone knows you can clean your ball when you mark and lift it on the putting green but a lot of times I’ll be in a group and someone will ask, as they pick up their ball, “can I clean my ball?” One way to think about it is that you always can clean or substitute your ball when you are taking relief (free relief or for a penalty).

The surefire way to know when you can clean your ball is to know the four exceptions (or when you cannot clean your ball). You cannot clean your ball when:

  1. You are trying to Identify the ball – the exception here is you can clean it just enough to identify your ball.
  2. You are asked to mark your ball because it interferes with play of another golfer.
  3. You want to determine if your ball is damage (e.g., cracked or cut is the only time a ball is “damaged”).
  4. You want to see if your ball lies in a condition that allows relief. For example, to determine if a ball is embedded. If you determine you do get relief then you can clean your ball (but don’t clean it before you make the determination).

You can always substitute a ball when you are between holes but when else can you substitute a ball? It is tricky to find in the rules but the key is to look for the words “or another ball.” For example, if you read Rule 6.3 (ball used in play of hole), the language for taking relief reads “the player may use either the original ball or another ball (Rule 14.3a).

It is important to know that you cannot just decide to substitute a ball during the play of the hole. If your ball gets scuffed from hitting the cart path or you get a mud ball on a wet course that’s just bad luck. You must play the hole with that ball. You can put a new ball in play on your next hole.

What is a damaged ball? I play with many golfers that think a scuffed ball is a “damaged ball” – it is not. Per the Rules of Golf only a cut or crack in a ball qualifies as a damaged ball (Rule 4.2.c).

Restoring a “Worsened Condition” Rule 8.1.d

Rule 8 is “Course played as it is found.” Golfers all know they are to play the course as they find it but there is a clause that a lot of golfers don’t know. This clause is fascinating to me and you may never need it but it’s good to know (especially around the green). Rule 8.1.d addresses the situation when the course is not in the same condition as you found it. Specially, Rule 8.1.d says that if the course condition is worsened by another player (or animal, artificial object) after your ball comes to rest you can restore the “worsened condition.”

The most common example given is that your ball is at rest close to the green (but not on it) and another player hits their ball in front of your ball which makes a pitch mark right in front of your ball. So, the condition of the course was made worse in front of your ball and you can now restore the area back to it’s original condition (i.e. repair that pitch mark). However, if the pitch mark was already there when your ball came to rest that’s just bad luck.

Another example is if your ball is near a bunker and a player hits out of the bunker and sand lands on (or in front of) your ball. Assuming the sand was not on your ball when it came to rest, you can clean your ball and brush the sand off the ground in front of your ball.

You also can mark and clean your ball when you restore a worsened condition; and if you can’t restore the area, you get a one club-length relief area.

Abnormal Course Condition “Relief Area”

It drives me crazy when someone tells me I must take relief in the “same condition” when taking relief from an abnormal course condition. The clarification of the rule states “There is nothing in Rule 16.1 that requires them to maintain the identical condition.” You can read the full explanation in the clarifications for Rule 16.1. but basically your ball must stay in the same “area of the course” and there are five areas of the course: teeing area, putting area, penalty area, bunkers, and general area – so there is no distinction between rough and fairway in this instance because they are in the same general area. That’s why when you take free relief in a bunker for temporary water, or a dangerous animal you must drop in the bunker because you must be in the same “area” (not condition). If you take relief in a different “area” it comes with a penalty.

There are options that allow you to take relief in a different “area of the course” (remember there are five areas of the course) but you don’t get free relief. For example, using the bunker, let’s say you take free lateral relief (2-club lengths) in the bunker from a fire ant hill (dangerous animal condition, Rule 16.2) but you still don’t feel comfortable in the bunker with the ants. You want out of the bunker so your next option is basically to take “stroke and distance” relief with a one-stroke penalty to get out of the bunker or take a 2-stroke penalty (back-on-the-line) outside the bunker. There are four options for taking an unplayable ball in the bunker (see rule 19.3b which has a diagram of the options).

There’s a good video from GIR golf on YouTube that walks through various dangerous animal situations including when your ball lands in a penalty area and there is an alligator (watch at around 8 mins). Basically, if you determine you would play the ball as it lies in the penalty area (if the gator was not there) you can take free relief in another part of the penalty area (if you think it is safe); otherwise, you can take relief outside the penalty area for a one-stroke penalty (using one of the various options of the penalty relief procedure).

One Club Length Versus Two-Club Lengths When Taking Relief

“How many club lengths do I take?” There are only two instances when 2-club lengths are used to determine a drop area. They are unplayable ball and lateral relief. A bit more about each:

  1. Unplayable ball – A player can declare the ball unplayable any where on the course except penalty areas. The USGA has a good diagram for unplayable options in the general area in Rule 19.2 Some golfers I have played with do not realize you can declare you ball unplayable in a bunker which gives you four options . For example, did you know you can take stroke and distance for one penalty stroke? The USGA has a good unplayable ball video on YouTube and there is a good review from the USGA FAQ section.
  2. Lateral Relief – The red penalty relief procedure allows you to take 2-club lengths to determine the drop area. As a review, the penalty areas have the following relief options:
    • Yellow and Red: play the ball as it lies which has no penalty
    • Yellow and Red: stroke and distance for one penalty stroke
    • Yellow and Red: back-on-the-line for one penalty stroke
    • Red only: Lateral relief – 2-club lengths from where the ball last crossed the penalty area. One penalty stroke.

Relief from a Cart Path

We would all love to take relief from the side of the cart path that gives us the best shot but that isn’t how the rules works. It’s another procedure many golfers get wrong because they don’t take the nearest point of complete relief. The USGA video is a good refresher. And, You must also stay in the same “area” of the course so what happens when the relief area you think is correct is not in the same area. Jay Roberts has a great Cart Path Relief video with this situation (and Jay demonstrates it could be to your advantage). Jay Roberts also has a great video titled “4 Mistakes when Taking Free Relief from a Cart Path.” For example, don’t take your ball off the cart path until you make a decision on what you want to do!

Final Thoughts

You may have read this post and thought to yourself that you know all these rules so no need for a review. If yes, that’s great! I always seem to feel the need to review even simple rules at the start of golf season.

If you are looking for sources of rules reviews (other than the USGA and R&A), I usually learn about interesting Rules situations from following some of my favorite Rules guys on Instagram or YouTube. They include: Jay Roberts Golf, GolfRules Question, and GIR LLC Golf, Jay Roberts is really good at making rules simple and he is so good that the USGA recently hired him.

As I said I am not an expert, but I try to do my best. When playing with friends for fun I really don’t care how closely anyone follow the rules. In league or in competition, it gives me peace of mind to know rules so that I don’t get overly stressed when I find myself in a sticky situation on the course.

Happy golfing in 2023 and may the golf rules be kind to you!

AIG Women’s British Open Purse Increase

AIG and The R&A “put their money where they mouth is” with a new record overall purse for a women’s golf major. The purse total is $5.8 million with $870,000 for the winner. And they announced they are committed to raising the 2022 purse by a million to $6.8 million. The purse increase announced by AIG and The R&A is great news for women’s professional golf.

At least for the majors, I’m happy to see in 2021 things are moving in the right direction. For example, back in 2012 the USGA’s purse for the U.S. Women’s Open was $3.25 million with $585K going to the winner and in 2021, the U.S. Women’s Open purse total was $5.5 million with $1 million to the winner.

I do find it interesting that sponsors for the women’s majors get to associate their name with the major. For example the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship versus the men’s PGA Championship. But if that is the price to pay for higher pay for the women the so be it.

The USGA has a history of having the highest purses for the majors and with Mike Whan, former commissioner of the LPGA as the new CEO of the USGA, I’m hoping that he makes a big statement for women’s golf in 2022. I would love to see the governing body be the first golf organization to have the men’s and women’s purses be the same amount — a girl can dream!

The chart below lists the purses for both the women’s and men’s majors for 2021. I do care about pay equity and wrote about it in my 2012 blog “The Gender Gap in Golf Prize Money”. I’m not going to go in to deep comparison because that would require looking at regular season tour events (as I did in 2012). My hope would be that perhaps one day sponsors will see the value of women’s golf equal to men’s golf and the money will follow.

I am providing a chart because I know readers (as I did) will wonder what the payouts were in 2021 so I did the research for anyone taking the time to read my blog.

Women’s MajorsTotal PurseWinner’s ShareMen’s MajorsTotal PurseWinner’s Share
U.S. Women’s Open$5.5 Million$1 MillionU.S. Open$12.5 Million$2.25 Million
AIG Women’s British Open$5,8 Million$870KBritish Open$11.5 Million$2.07 Million
KPMG PGA Championship$4,5 Million$675KPGA Championship$12 Million$2.16 Million
ANA Inspiration$3.1 Million$465KThe Masters$11.5 Million$2.07 Million
Evian Championship$4.5 Million$675K   

Communicating Change – USGA not so “old school”

The golf industry has been anticipating the ruling on long putters all year and finally the announcement came that the governing bodies of golf, the USGA and The R&A, are proposing a ban on “anchoring” the putter against the body.

I was not planning on writing about this announcement because I use a traditional putter and I don’t have an issue with the rule.  What I found interesting and what has compelled me to write is my surprise at how well the USGA and The R&A disseminated the information!

Obviously if you are a golf geek (as I am), you expected the news to unfold on the Golf Channel.  Both Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director and Peter Dawson,  The R&A Chief Executive were on TV.

What I did not expect was the variety of materials created to communicate and explain the proposed rule change, and the fact that they are promoting a 90-day feedback period to allows stakeholders to share their opinion on the proposed change.


Proposed rule 14-1b Infographic USGA Infographic Anchoring Putter, Proposed Rule-14-1b

Infographics are a great tool for visually explaining the rule.  I’m a visual person so I love infographics.

From a communication perspective, the use of infographics in business is becoming more common but is still not really widely used and is not considered a “standard” in the communication toolbox. Therefore, it is nice to see the forward thinking of the communications folks (at the USGA and R&A) using an infographic to support the explanation of the rule change.

Video Explanation

The other visual I did not expect was the in-depth video explaining the reason behind the decision and demonstration of the putting options.  Yes, many videos are done but not all of them are done well or posted in a timely manner.  The USGA and R&A had the video posted on the websites and on YouTube ready for consumption and sharing.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen a major company (or brand) announce a new product and not have a decent video demo posted to YouTube.  And, demo videos are a standard in communication toolboxes in business today.

Email and Social Media

The next thing that impressed me was the email I received from the USGA.  I am a member (just a regular golfer membership for $25/annual fee) so I was not surprised to receive an email, but once again the timing of the email was impressive.  It came at 8:52 a.m. (I was literally watching the golf channel listening to the live press conference at that time).  Again, this simple act of sending an email early to the members is “first-class.” The email included a link to the rules explanation on the USGA website and encouraged feedback via the website feedback tool.

I was not surprised at the USGA’s use of social media (Twitter and Facebook) because they have been using those channels; and the status updates on twitter and Facebook are always timely.  Of course, one key to successful social media is to have great photos or images to share so the infographic and video play nicely into the social media communication channel.

Impact on Reputation

Finally, I think many golfers think the USGA and R&A are “old school” with a bunch of “old boys” and “old traditions.”  I’m sure there are golfers that will view the decision on anchoring the putter as wrong and view the USGA and R&A leaders as hurting the game.

However, based on the execution of the communication of the proposed rule change, the USGA and R&A have shown that although they are protecting the traditions of the game of golf; they are modern in their transparency and communication of their initiatives.

Lydia Ko wins USGA Women’s Amateur: second-youngest winner at age 15

2012 USGA Women’s Amateur Overview

There is no surprise that Lydia Ko won the USGA Women’s Amateur because she is the #1 ranked amateur in the world rankings (WAGR).  It is amazing that she has held the number one spot for over 40 weeks (and was 14 when she attained the rank).  She is another young prodigy poised for golf greatness.

The USGA Women’s Amateur is a four-day event.  The first two days are stroke play and the top 64 players advance to the weekend match play rounds.  Lydia Ko played Janye Marie Green, an 18-year-old American, for the title.   Janye Marie Green was ranked 14th in the world and moved up to the 7th ranked player after coming in second at the USGA Women’s Amateur.

Janye Marie Green did challenge Lydia Ko in the finals but Ko went 3 up to win the title.  The turning point in the final was late in the second round of the final day; specifically on the 24th and 25th holes.  Green hit a tree on the 24th hole ending up in a horrible position. Green tried twice to hit the ball back into the fairway.  She could not advance the ball and had to concede the hole.  On the next hole, Green hit a beautiful shot onto the green and looked like she might win the hole because Ko was still off the green. It was amazing to watch Ko chip in and make a birdie to go 3 up.  Green never got back in the match.

Age and the USGA Women’s Amateur:

If you read my previous post, “They just keep getting younger: 10-year-old Latanna Stone makes history,” then you know I believe there should be an age limit to compete in the Women’s Amateur.  So while watching the USGA Women’s Amateur, I tweeted the following:

Tweet about youngest and oldest players in USGA Womens AmateurAs you can see from the tweet, 10-year-old Latanna Stone missed the cut; but so did the oldest player Brenda Picardo (who was age 56).  Honestly, I was really hoping the oldest player would make the cut.

So once again, I want to highlight the power of social media because the USGA listened to the “twitter conversation” and answered my question.  The USGA first marked my tweet as a “favorite” (which gave me a hint that they might reply later).  The next day, the USGA did tweet age related information.  Here is the first tweet (after my tweet) from the USGA:

First Tweet of USGA explaining ages of remaining players

After I tweeted my age question, the USGA sent a tweet with age ranges

Now, the USGA did not re-tweet my question (which would have been nice) but they did provide the information.  The USGA continued to tweet age information.  It is interesting to see that the average age kept dropping with each round of golf.

Note: To read a tweet stream (in chronological order) go from bottom to top — or 9 Aug to 11 Aug

USGA Tweets age information for Women’s Amateur

Although the tweets do not mention it, Jayvie Agojo is a 26-year-old mother with a young daughter.  Agojo’s amateur world golf ranking went from 155 to 108 after the tournament.

Paula Reto is a 22-year-old who did not even take up the golf until 2005.  Reto was a member of Purdue’s winning team at the 2010 NCAA Division I Women’s National Championship.  After the USGA Women’s Amateur tournament Reto moved from 27th to 22nd in the amateur world golf rankings WAGR.

Does being a great amateur translate to being a great professional golfer?

The final tweet acknowledges Kimberley Kim who won the Women’s amateur at the age of fourteen.  I was curious what happened to Kim because I do not recall seeing her play in the LPGA events I watch (or course, not all players are highlighted on television).

To my surprise Kim has not had a successful professional career. The LPGA has a minimum age requirement so Kim turned pro after the age of 18.  Her LPGA bio shows zero earnings as a professional during her rookie year in 2011.  She missed every cut and it appears did not qualify to return to the tour.  According to another online bio, Kim did so poorly that the website, stated:

“At Qualifying School in the Fall, she played so terribly that she did not even gain Futures Tour membership, let alone LPGA membership (her first round was an 89!). Presumably she is not ready to give up on pro golf, but exactly what her immediate plans are is unknown.”

note: Kim is American and half-Korean so that is why the website, a website that follows Korean players on the LPGA, lists her bio.

As for Lydia Ko, all things point to an amazing future.  Ko has already won a professional golf event as an amateur.  In January, she made history winning the women’s New South Wales Open (Ko is from New Zealand and was born in South Korean).  Ko seems well grounded, plans to remain an amateur, and then go to college.

They just keep getting younger: 10-year-old Latanna Stone makes history

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.

Twitter conversation with Stina SternbergI 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!

A Tribute to Annika Sorenstam

I think if you ask the average person who is the best female golfer of all time, many would say Annika Sorenstam.  Annika turned pro in 1993 but her career took off in 1995 when she won her first US Women’s Open.

In 2008, Annika retired at the age of 38 from her professional golf career with an astonishing 89 career wins, 72 LPGA tour victories, and 10 major championships.  To put that in perspective; Tiger (now age 36) has 95 worldwide wins, 71 PGA tour victories, and 14 major championships.  In terms of on course success, Annika is the “Tiger Woods” of women’s golf.  However, unlike her male counterpart she has lived her personal life with complete integrity (no scandals for this great golfer).

Annika  was named the 2012 recipient of the Bob Jones award.  This is an honor bestowed upon by the USGA to a person that epitomizes “distinguished sportsmanship in golf.”  Annika still plays a huge role in golf today with her efforts to grow the sport. She is a very busy lady with her foundation, her golf academy, and her involvement in golf course design (she and Jack Nicklaus have submitted a bid to build the golf course for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.)

The tribute video below is lovely because it is a mix of her personal life (her family speaks), the impact she has had on golf, and her focus on the health of children.

Congratulations to Annika!