The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, June 4, 2020
Looking at golf's big picture — Who in golf spoke up for Black Lives Matter — Must-click links in women's golf
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The big picture, through a golf lens
I’m finding it hard to talk about golf today. Not because there are still no golf events to actually cover or talk about, but because I feel it would be a complete disservice to not talk about what’s happening in our world today.
I want to go deeper on racism and social injustice—through a golf lens. I tell you what. The golf industry frustrates the heck out of me sometimes, full disclosure, but there were some really bright moments this week that made me beyond proud of the progress we’re making.
The same reason I get frustrated is the same reason I work in golf to begin with; I like the challenge. I like showing people that golf is actually a sport for everyone. I like that we have so much room to grow—and believe we will get there eventually. What fun is a job (or anything really) without the chase, anyway?
So where to even begin? After George Floyd’s death and protests across the country began, I’ve found myself pretty restless. And I think this restlessness has almost stemmed from feeling stuck on what to do to help; on what my role is in making our world a more loving, accepting place to exist. I don’t care how cliche that sounds—I hope most people have experienced similar sentiments over the last week. Isn’t it crazy to think that a global pandemic is now an afterthought? I saw a quote this morning that sent goosebumps down my spine that I wanted to share here.
“What if 2020 isn’t canceled? What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary so raw — that it finally forces us to grow. A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber. A year we finally accept the need for change. Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. A year we finally band together, instead of pushing each other further apart. 2020 isn’t canceled, but rather the most important year of them all.” – Leslie Dwight
This is the perspective we all need. And for golf specifically, it is our time to accept the need for change. To admit we are part of the problem, given three out of every four golfers are white and less than 5% of all golfers are black. It’s time we stand for something bigger than ourselves and continue to push for change in making our sport far more inclusive than it currently is. There is no quick and easy answer to change this.
One step at a time, I know we can. But in order to make progress, it’s also about acknowledging some of the mindsets that hold us back. As many awesome things as I’ve seen from the golfing community the last few days, there’s also a lot of awful responses I wish I never did see. I know what they say, don’t read the comments section, but I can’t help myself. There were quite few eye openers on Twitter.
Like this: “I’m of the mind that if your [sic] good enough you’ll be rewarded. Golf doesn’t need affirmative action or participation trophies. It needs the best players playing at the highest levels.”
And this: “Black people should be forced to play golf?”
And this: “Dude we are out of the situation because we are above the situation. Don’t you get that? 4 of 4 golfers don’t see race. IDGAF what color ball you play or what color skin you’re in. The problem is black people think golf is for the white man. That stereotype will never change.”
Those comments expose our sport in the worst way. And sadly, these gentlemen aren’t the only ones who think this way.
The stereotype that golf is for the white man must change, should change and I believe it will change. These are ignorant comments with very little understanding of a racialized society. Not to mention no understanding of a system that has actually blatantly disregarded black lives.
I’ve never really understood why white people get so offended by even the conversation about racism. That defensiveness is consistently present in the world of golf, which is, as previously discussed, overwhelmingly white.
But I just opened up the book So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (seriously, read it) and she helped me understand why we’re always trying to defend ourselves. I’m also including this excerpt from her book because it’s important. It makes sense. Nobody wants to be erased, yet black people have been erased for far too long.
“Disadvantaged white people are not erased by discussions of disadvantaged black people. They are two different issues with two different treatments and they require two different conversations…So much of what we feel and think about other persons of race is dictated by our system, and not our hearts.” — Ijeoma Oluo (author of So You Want to Talk About Race)
These aren’t easy conversations, which is why we should educate ourselves on how we can be the best allies we can possibly be. I’m in the process of lining up a few guests for my podcast who are being vocal in the golf space on issues of racism and injustice, but also women who are growing the game in the black community. Am I an expert on this topics? Absolutely not. Will I always say the right thing? No, but I want to learn and I want to grow in this area.
Part of me is ashamed it’s taken these events to make me realize the importance of these conversations. Because in reality, we should always be doing everything we can to elevate the black community—in golf and elsewhere. Maybe 2020 is exactly what our world needed. Maybe without the current realities of our world, we’d actually be worse off. Maybe these realities are stretching us in a way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
To close out today, I hope you’ll take the time to read some thoughts and feelings from golf’s leaders, players and personalities below in the interview section. While we have so much work to do, this level of authenticity and being willing to speak up will hopefully carry us into a better, brighter future.
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This Week in Women’s Golf
Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s Golf Day was a hit for LPGA players and beyond. (via LPGA.com)
Emma Talley intends to play early and often once LPGA resumes. (via WPSD Local)
There’s a handful of LPGA stars competing in the Texas Women’s Open this week. (via Golfworld)
Jeongeun Lee6 pens a powerful letter on ‘her road less traveled.’ (via LPGA.com)
Angela Stanford named Assistant Vice Captain for 2021 USA Solheim Cup team. (via LPGA.com)
Caroline Masson probably isn’t the only player who fears COVID-19 once travel and the LPGA season starts back up. (via Golf Channel)
Tiger Woods, Harold Varner, LPGA among those speaking out against racism. (via Golf Channel)
LPGA issues statement after death of George Floyd. (via Golf Digest)
Aditi Ashok relieved to keep her LPGA Tour card. (via Olympic Channel)
Lotte Championship expected to return to Ko Olina in 2021. (via Star Advertiser)
PGA and LPGA Tour pros shine in Peloton All-Star ride. (via Golf.com)
Meet Lorena Ochoa—the golf course architect. (via LPGA.com)
The Annika Foundation is almost single-handedly keeping the Symetra Tour afloat with donation. (via LPGA.com)
Meet the short-game guru working with the LPGA’s best. (via BBC Sport)
Paula Creamer looks back on her U.S. Women’s Open win 10 years ago. (via Golf Digest)
Seth Waugh, Suzy Whaley send an open letter on the current realities of our world today. (via PGA.org)
Seemingly nothing could stop this women’s golf team. Then came the virus. (via Golf.com)
Men’s and women’s golf cut from Brown University. (via Golf Digest)
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Golf Speaking Up
What a week. I paid close attention to who and what golf organizations have spoken up on the issues of racism and injustice. It’s not really a secret that golf is pretty behind when it comes to inclusion. And silence isn’t accepted today, especially when the tension is this high. It’s worth highlighting who these people are—and hoping this moves golf in a better, stronger direction.
I. Henni Zuel: It feels odd to me to talk about anything golf related right now with everything that’s going on. So I’ll do both, the current climate and golf are not mutually exclusive from my personal experience. Racism in golf may not be obvious or explicitly said, sometimes it has been but more often than not it’s in a look, a judgmental tone of voice, a question of “are you lost?” Or “can I help you?” At the check in that means “You don’t belong here.” It unfortunately is prevalent and pervasive in its subtlety throughout the golfing world but also I have experienced the beauty of golf, the people in it and the coming together of those people and places. It is a great leveler of a sport like no other. I don’t want to beat down on golf as it’s a sport that I love to my core so I will offer a suggested action – We all have friends or groups of friends who we invite to certain things or activities that we think they’ll enjoy or feel comfortable doing, that’s normal. So if you have someone in your friendship circle who is black or in a minority group – invite them to golf! Include them. Let them know that you acknowledge the biases. That golf is a wonderful game that should be enjoyed by ALL and that you will stand by them. So that they too can feel comfortable and enjoy the game we all love. We all need advocates, as a woman and as a mixed race woman I recognize that better than most. I urge you – Be someone’s advocate to feel included. (via Twitter)
II. Cheyenne Woods. Just thinking about (George Floyd) again gives me goosebumps and chills. This is a tough reality of what’s going on in our country. It’s a storyline and it’s a tragedy that has happened way too many times in all of the history of society, but now again it’s being filmed and being broadcast on social media, so it is spreading. It’s confusing that it’s still happening. It’s frustrating to see people still defending or not quite understanding why people are so outraged. It’s sad to see and heartbreaking that that is a reality of black America, and to think about the conversations that you have to have with your children about police interactions or how to deal with being in society in general. Conversations about it are really difficult to have. You see it in the news, it’s hard to watch, hard to talk about. But it is the reality of what people deal with so it’s important to have these conversations. I think the older I’ve gotten the more I realize that I do have a very powerful platform as a female golfer, as a minority golfer and using that. I think as an athlete or a public figure, a lot of times you almost get forced to feel like you have to live middle-of-the-road and not go one way or another or say anything too extreme. But there comes a point where you have to have a voice and you have to speak on what matters to you because it does make a difference in people’s lives and can influence and spread a lot of positivity and change. … You see athletes like Lebron James and Steph Curry speak out about these issues and it’s very powerful to see somebody in that light have such a strong stance on something that matters to them. I think they are great role models in that sense of just truly having a voice. (via Golfweek)
III. Jon Rahm. I invite my fellow members to support the causes of getting rid of hate, bigotry, and racism. Our game is a wonderful game and the PGA Tour, European Tour and LPGA Tour provide a wonderful platform to make an incredible living, support amazing charities, and make a difference. I love looking outside the ropes and seeing the diversity of faces, men and women, young and old enjoying a game for a lifetime. Let’s continue the conversation in support of our Black community, embrace our differences and empower each person to greatness. (via Twitter)
IV. Suzy Whaley. After the events of last week, I realize COVID-19 is only one of the unrelenting challenges of 2020. Instead of fighting against an unseen enemy, we were awakened to another, equally unjust enemy that we all clearly see. Racism must be defeated in a fight we can no longer ignore. It is my belief that humanity stems from kindness, faith, and hope. But as I watch the continued injustice against African Americans in our communities, the mass destruction and hopelessness, the frustration and the call for action in cities nationwide to stand for what is just and humane, I understand the power we have as a game and as a group of individuals that will no longer tolerate the racism and bigotry that lives today and has lived in our past. Our spaces can be used for good, to invite and welcome people from all walks of life and to rise up and say no more. Enough is enough. Together, each one of us has the power to effect change and build an industry that is accepting, compassionate, and proud to stand together. Stand with us in the possibility and the hope that we cannot ignore our lack of inclusion. Stand with us and let’s all take the necessary steps to change it.
V. Seth Waugh. So, what are we going to do about it? I have learned in life that you sometimes have to hit rock bottom before you can rise off the floor. I am hopeful that this might be that moment. Of course, I was hopeful that the Rodney King riots might have been that moment, but it turned out to be a false hope. I thought it would happen organically, but it doesn’t always work that way. We will need to be intentional in this moment. The outrage and disgust feel so universal this time, but we still need to take real action to make sure this makes us better, not worse. I do believe that we will get through this, that people are inherently good, that police kneeling with protesters and a surviving brother calling for peaceful demonstrations as what his late brother would want will ultimately carry the day….We recognize that golf can’t cure all of society’s challenges. But because of our nearly 29,000 PGA Golf Professionals, I believe we are positioned to lead the conversation and take action on how golf can help. We are certainly not proud of every chapter in golf’s imperfect past, including our own failings, but we can certainly be proud of the future we can build together if we become a committed part of the solution. PGA WORKS and PGA LEAD are intentional steps we have taken to make a difference in our sport. But now we must do more and reach higher.