Keeping up with the girls

I made my greatest contribution to the sport of golf more than 30 years ago, when I moved from Montana to the East Coast. Stop playing.

The truth is that he was a terrible golfer, and he was not willing to put in the time and effort to improve much. When he played on the fields of the Rocky Mountains of Montana, he paid more attention to the landscape than to the game. I approached the task of hitting a golf ball in the same way that I approached hitting in the minor leagues. My idea was to hit the thing as hard as I could without worrying too much about where I was going after hitting it and then running like hell, which was necessary if I was going to track the ball and get off the field before the next dawn. . (It never occurred to me to rent a golf cart.)

The only reason I started playing golf was because, in college, I dated a girl who was a very good golfer. He grew up in a small town on the Great Plains. The golf course was so primitive that the greens had no grass; They consisted of sand, to which oil was applied to suppress dust. After finishing putting, he was expected to use a sand smoothing tool for the next golfer. My girlfriend had still finished second in her state high school tournament, even though she had few opportunities to practice on real grass fields.

Other golfers used to stop and watch, admiring my girlfriend’s swing. At least that’s what they said they were admiring. I didn’t care. She could play better than almost all the men we came across, and regardless of whether it was her swing or something else that first caught her eye, viewers soon recognized her ability.

I thought the novelty and chauvinism towards young golfers disappeared a long time ago, sometime between my college girlfriend and Michelle Wie. So I was surprised to read that high school athletic officials in Idaho are considering excluding Sierra Harr from the boys’ golf team at Castleford High School.

Harr, a young man, helped the team win a state championship last season. She finished seventh overall in the men’s tournament, having won the women’s state title a year earlier. Not enough girls attended golf to allow Castleford to field a team last season, so Harr’s only options were to play as an individual or join the boys’ team.

Federal law has required schools to provide equal athletic opportunities for boys and girls for the past 40 years. While this does not require schools to offer both genders a team for each sport, schools have a responsibility to find ways to accommodate students who want to play a sport that is not offered for their gender. Typically this means allowing girls to play with boys when it is impractical to line up a girls team.

In Broward County, Florida, 17-year-old Erin DiMeglio has taken some snapshots as a quarterback this season for South Plantation High School, a formidable team that includes, and faces off, players who are destined for college squads from Division I. While apparently the first female quarterback to play for a Florida high school, The Associated Press has estimated that more than 500 girls have been on the field in other positions.

DiMeglio, who is a college basketball prospect, is only the team’s third quarterback and is likely to see limited action. This is understandably a relief to her parents, who have good reason to be concerned that their daughter will be fired by rival players much older than her. But DiMeglio has the support and acceptance of her teammates and the enthusiastic endorsement of the team’s fans, who were yelling at her coach to put her in the season opener against rival Nova. (He did, for two continuous plays.)

If other players accept girls on men’s teams and fans accept them, why do some Idaho sports officials seem to have a problem with that?

I suppose it could be an anachronistic sexism, the kind that still cannot allow a woman to be able to or should be able to compete athletically with men. The kind that could still watch a woman’s performance and see the woman instead of the performance. Maybe that’s the answer, but I doubt it.

I suspect that the objections stem from a wrong definition of what is “fair.” By this logic, it is not fair for a girl to compete on a boys ‘team in sports while we would not accept the presence of a boy on a girls’ team.

But what the players and the public understand, even if the coaches and school officials do not understand, is that the girl does not have an unfair advantage when playing with the boys, while the reverse is not necessarily true. Nature endowed children, in general, with greater size and greater strength. Most girls have to compensate for these handicaps with skill, coordination, practice, and determination. There is nothing unfair about Erin DiMeglio playing soccer with her male teammates, or Sierra Harr playing golf with hers.

Perhaps someday a strange situation will arise in a place like Idaho, where a school has enough girls interested in golf to form a team, but not enough boys. If that happens and a boy wants to play for the women’s team, the correct answer might be to say yes. Otherwise, there are alternatives, such as deploying combined squads of children from various schools.

Harr reports that she, like DiMeglio, has been accepted by her male companions. “The guys on my team treated me like an equal,” he wrote to Idaho school officials, “and if any of my competitors disapproved of me playing golf with the boys, they were kind enough to keep their opinions to themselves. And they treated me with respect. The only negative reactions I received were from some opposing coaches. ” (one)

I am reaching a point in life where I am considering playing golf again, this time with my wife. It would be nice to spend time with her outside, enjoying the scenery while we chase that little white ball. I go out to Idaho from time to time. Someday I might even meet Sierra Harr on a golf course.

She seems like a very nice young woman, so I’m sure she will be patient with me until I allow her to continue playing. She knows as well as anyone that a lot of guys just can’t keep up with the girls on the field.


1) Yahoo! News, “Idaho Golfer Struggles to Play with Kids”

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