Girls just wanna have fun — Rose Zhang talks grip — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Apr. 6, 2023
Happy Golf Thursday! First: a brief digression from women’s golf. When I was in high school, the most popular and beloved students in the entire school played for the girls basketball team — and rightfully so! The team barely missed the state championship game my freshman year and went on to win back-to-back-to-back titles, led by eventual WNBA player Megan Walker.
We held pep-rallies on random Fridays just to celebrate how incredible the team was. My junior year, the entire school got an unofficial afternoon off, because our boys team had also made it to the state game (fun fact: both teams won that day). From what I can recall, that championship team was mostly made up of young Black girls, who were all remarkably smart and kind; they were the big fish of our small high school in the suburbs of Virginia. They were loved and celebrated and that’s exactly how it should always be.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that LSU Tigers have announced to the world that they are unapologetically themselves and regardless of the narratives being thrown their way — they will carry on. It’s bothersome that what should be a monumental moment for not just women’s basketball but for all women’s sports — has now become discourse on the acceptable behavior for young Black women — and I’m weary of describing Angel Reese, Flau’jae Johnson, and Alexis Morris as women because the media has a reputation of framing Black girls as older than what they are to pass on judgement. This tactic is extremely harmful and often goes unchecked but something about this group of Black girls has ignited the Twitter-sphere.
Angel Reese has the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Lebron James coming to her defense, but the Bayou Barbie doesn’t really need it. She seems to know exactly who she is and remains firm in her actions.
Respectability politics, or prescribing to certain acceptable behaviors for the sake of earning respect from white, Christian, heterosexual, cis-gendered men is one of the most damning acts any minority can subject themselves to. It’s a flawed concept and we often ask people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and women to play into respectability politics because it’s “easier”. Giving up a part of yourself to preserve the comfortability of someone else is often required of so many young college athletes. You better have a smile on your face no matter what’s thrown your way, because if you get too emotional you’re only giving them fuel. Well who is them, and who the hell cares what they think?
It’s obvious that something has shifted in the women’s sports sphere after this weekend. More people are on alert for the WNBA Draft which is this coming Monday, April 10. More people will be on alert for the next college season in anticipation that it will only be better than this year. More people will be on alert for the next Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark. There’s some high schooler who’s about the become the next great, and we’ll thrust them into a spotlight that maybe too bright because we can’t help ourselves.
To expect greatness isn’t the issue, but to expect perfection? That’s were we continue to miss. These are young women in college, who should be cocky. Who should wear what they want to wear, they should tweet and post way too much on social media. As fans we must do better to protect our female athletes. Ensuring that they are allowed the space to grow — not just in their athletic ability but as people. Angel Reese, Olivia Dunne, Rose Zhang, Jada Williams, and so many other big name college athletes are our future and they will continue to do amazing things, but lets, let them have a little fun along the way.
Oh, and happy Masters week — eat a ton of pimento cheese!
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This week in women’s golf
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PODCAST: The LET podcast sits down with former Ladies European Tour player Sophie Walker joins us on this week’s episode to discuss her journey through golf; from Cleethorpes to Q-School, and all the way to the commentary box
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Five at The IX: Rose Zhang’s mid-round light bulb moment
First tee shot jitters will get the best of anyone — no matter how good you are. Rose Zhang, who possesses other-worldly golf talent seemed human after double bogeying her first hole on Saturday, during the final round of the ANWA. The round ebbed and flowed, stopping for weather. But Zhang seemed to have an ‘a-ha’ moment at the right moment.
Q. Rose, on that, you mentioned in the interview there was a grip change, which is not something people normally do in a round. Have you ever made a grip change mid-round like that? And I guess also just what else did you do during the break to try to find something?
ROSE ZHANG: I didn’t do anything specific during the break. It was more of just getting off the golf course and having a more refreshed mind.
So I feel like the break did me well, but at the same time, it didn’t resolve a lot of things that I had on the golf course that was feeling uncomfortable.
I would say the thing about me is I’m very consistent in my performance, and partially because I am very quick in adjusting to things that work. I really kind of do a scan through in my mind on what I need to get done, on what I need to work on from setup to ball position, grip, everything.
When things weren’t feeling comfortable, it was kind of an “aha” moment where I was like, my grip. It’s my right hand. So I made it a little weaker, and that allowed me to get my driver back on track.
That was kind of my devil in the bag when I was playing the first couple holes.
Q. When did you have your light bulb moment about the grip?
ROSE ZHANG: Light bulb moment? Let me think. Probably it was on 13. It was my second shot. It was my third shot going into that par-5 and it was one of the best wedge shots that I hit all week, especially with me being under pressure and with me barely carrying it over the creek.
But I really had — that was a quick turnaround for me.
Then on the next hole on the tee shot it was kind of like, oh, well, let’s see what this does with my little adjustment. And the drive that I hit was perfect. So from then on I kind of realized that it was going to work out.
Q. Rose, when things aren’t going well, when you’re not comfortable with your swing and nothing seems to be going your way, what is that feeling like on the final day at Augusta? Secondly, what went into the decision to go for it on 15?
ROSE ZHANG: So I feel like when your swing’s uncomfortable, it’s always very hard to play on a very difficult golf course, and Augusta National is no exception. Especially with it being such a big stage, every mistake is sort of magnified.
So I think that just being able to kind of get back on track, that was my biggest feat today. I was able to have the outcome that I wanted while staying in the moment.
On 15 it was definitely a very difficult decision. I really did want to layup, but my dad and I were talking through the shot. Yesterday I went for it. I was hitting it well, and I found a little bit of a grip change. So I felt confident for the most part.
I really just hit it thin and it didn’t even come close to the green. So I really — from then on, I was just — I was kind of mad at myself for kind of opening that doorway so wide.
But I think that that putt on 15 was necessary for my confidence. I blasted it by six feet, and if I didn’t make that, that would have probably been the end of me, in terms of everything that happened.
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