Stepping into big shoes and handling emotional burdens
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, November 4, 2021
Andrew Jackson once said: “I have big shoes to fill. This is my chance to do something. I have to seize the moment.”
As a former competitive golfer turned junior golf coach with a fresh psychology degree, this is my moment. I was so fortunate to cross paths with Sarah and I’m very grateful that both she and Howard have trusted me with Golf Thursdays.
For all of us, I want this introduction to be a bridge between previous and current, so, I want to pick up where Sarah left you all two weeks ago discussing the sexism in golf article from Golf Digest. Now that we’ve had some time to sit with her thoughts and sit with the words of the original article, I want to pose a new perspective, something that I think people may still be a little shy to talk about but let’s just rip the band-aid off.
In Sarah’s article, she mentioned using the comment section for good. I think when you go back and look at the comment section under GD’s original post, it’s a whole lot of people not using it for good. There’s a lot of women doing the necessary trench work for providing their experiences and providing even more insight into why this article is such a big deal.
All too often, women have to bear and carry the emotional burden of their lives, their family’s lives, and now (thanks to social media) the lives of strangers. They have to deal with judgment and criticism about what they do, how they do it, and how they look doing it. Even when they’re talking about something that they’re probably an expert in, they still have to prove themselves to someone just because they feel like “because she is a woman, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about”.
This type of burden can have deep psychological effects on a person. Time and time again, women have to experience this kind of emotional turmoil. You have to wonder, is it even just about golf anymore? Any golfer can give countless recalls of their swing thoughts eating them alive and forcing error shots. In this current climate, the best female players in the world not only have to deal with swing thoughts but now they have to think about if their skirt is rising up, if their hair is still in place, are they standing provocatively, will someone view them in a different way now? It’s like they are putting in overtime but not getting compensated for it, or worse, getting their pay docked.
And to the people who think that this is just a made-up phenomenon, that no one truly feels this way, that these women just need to go out and play golf, I wonder why it is that you feel this way, that if we just don’t talk about it, the “problem” will simply go away. But it won’t. These interactions happen in real life and in real-time. This is not just a social media problem, it’s only heightened because of social media.
Gender exists in golf. I can guarantee that a woman didn’t go out to a golf course one day and say, “You know what? Those red ones right there, those are the ladies’ tees.” Gender exists in golf because men made it so.
The emotional burden that women in the 21st century still have to carry in their sports and in their lives is not fair. I urge, especially if you are a man reading this, that you really think about what it means to be a vehicle, to be a champion for the women in your lives. Create safe spaces for them to share whatever they may be feeling.
I coach a group of young girls every day and the love that they have for the game is so pure. They don’t get nervous or anxious around the guys that they play with and the guys don’t treat them any differently. They all play from the same tee boxes. And I know that eventually (at the rate that we’re going in the game of golf) that’s going to change. There’s going to be a tension that permeates and everyone’s going to brush it off as if it’s just a part of the game and it’s just a part of growing up and that shouldn’t be the case. The goal should forever be inclusivity and comfortability for all.
I’ll leave you with one last quote to ponder until our next meeting:
“I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This week in women’s golf
If you have any links, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Like I said, I’m a newbie. But here are things I think you should care about in the golf world this week. I’ve organized each link into categories, enjoy!
First, we have some old-fashioned news.
Danielle Kang talks about how she only started loving golf a few years ago. This is interesting and I found myself relating a lot to what she shared.
The NCAA moves to a six-regional format! This is wonderful considering the debacle from earlier this year, where many teams’ postseason dreams were cut short.
Just For Fun:
The IX Newsletter: Six different women’s sports in your inbox every week!
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Five at the IX: What golf can teach you about yourself
Last month, my team and I started a ladies clinic at our country club, oh so cleverly, called “Chicks with Sticks”. The point of these clinics is to get women more comfortable around the course! These ladies have little to no experience with golf. I asked our ladies what are five things they have learned about themselves since we started, here’s what said:
- Patience: This game is frustrating. As a beginner, it can be disheartening when you hit bad shot after bad shot but the fact that these women showed up three days a week for 5 straight weeks proves that they are in it for the long haul.
- Confidence: Most of these women learned from their husbands and may have been reluctant to take formal lessons, but through their journey they have learned that golf is so much more than a weekend activity! They can come out and practice and show off their newly acquired skills.
- That ugly can be good: Golf is ugly, but the ugliest shots can have pretty results! Seeing
- Being more creative: The fun of golf (besides the beverage cart) is getting creative with shots around the course. That feeling of pulling off a shot out of the woods behind a tree and landing it on the green is unlike any other feeling. These women are becoming more comfortable and trusting their ability to hit fun shots!
- Competitiveness: A lot of these women have played other sports but may have stopped because they are mothers or their work has kept them busy! Golf has awakened their competitive natures again!