Slicing Stereotypes in the game of golf

PART ONE OF TWO

Every group has its stereotypes, including golfers. Since the 15th century, golf has historically been known as a “gentlemen’s game” played by men of noble birth or superior social position. It was a game where only the wealthy were allowed on the course or into the country club. If you didn’t have roots from a superior social position, then you were frowned upon when it came to playing golf.

However, the sport has evolved a great deal in the last few decades, and so have its players. The new generation of golfers doesn’t fit the old stereotype at all. Golf is becoming increasingly popular with a younger, more diverse audience. Many critics suggest that Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Rory Mcilroy are this generations “Big Three.” These players bring a new, contemporary edge to the game.

In addition, women’s golf has gained popularity and is more competitive now than it has ever been. In the last 10 years, the top 10 longest drivers in the LPGA have increased driving distance by an average of more than 12 yards. Granted, technological advances have allowed for the equipment to better serve the players, but a new sense of athleticism is required by the sport.  Still, there are many people who continue to overlook golf as a “real sport.”

One of the most celebrated trailblazers in female golf was Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Although her athletic accomplishments are most extensive in the realm of golf, she was undoubtedly an all-around athlete. She won two Olympic gold medals and one silver medal in track and field, and was an All-American in basketball. Babe was the first woman to play in a PGA event and later helped found the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Babe truly helped pave the way for women to play the game of golf. IMG_0817
Since then, women have hit the ground running and now do it all. The perfect embodiment of the woman who does it all may be the collegiate female golfer. These young women contradict every stereotype that people have about golfers. They go to school full time and work on their skill full time, while living on a student’s budget.

Many people seem to have adopted the notion that a collegiate golfer’s life is leisurely, traveling to beautiful golf courses and relaxing all day. This, however, is not the case. A collegiate golf tournament demands a player’s presence, usually for five days at a time. The average collegiate golfer will miss around two weeks of school each month while in season (keep in mind the golf season spans both semesters). When they’re not traveling, they are going to classes, making up missed work, at daily practice, spending hours in study hall, and yes, working out.

It is the goal for many female collegiate golfers to work their way into the LPGA tour. The Tour is where the golfer can make money while playing the game she loves. Breaking down the stereotype that golf is just a game for “gentlemen” is part of the motivation for a female collegiate golfer. It drives her to work harder, get better and succeed.

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