Golf is a selfish sport. This is due in large part to three things:
#1 – Golf takes an enormous amount of time to practice and play. A round of golf takes 3-5 hours not including travel, practice and warm up, or eating. It is also relatively expensive.
#2 – Golf requires a lot of travel. Once you are good enough to play in tournaments, if that is your goal, you need to travel to get there. Pro golfers travel hundreds of miles worldwide to play in different events. Those playing on mini-tours often sleep in their cars.
#3 – The amount of focus and effort required to achieve and maintain an elite level in Golf is staggering. This is not a team sport where someone else can pick up the slack. If you have an off day or off week your game suffers. It is no different, in my opinion, from training for an Olympic sport. Your entire life should be dedicated to the pursuit.
In the “traditional” world men are often assumed to be more selfish when it comes to their careers. They are far more likely to sacrifice time with family in order to get ahead. I would agree with this to a certain point. Yes, men tend to be workaholics more than women. Yes, men often make career an enormous priority. However, I do not believe that men are naturally more ambitious than women. There could be a larger proportion of men who are ambitious because it is a trait associated with the hormone Testosterone which is produced in large amounts in men and is responsible for aggression and sex drive. There could also be a larger proportion of men who are ambitious because they are encouraged sociologically to display these traits to be considered successful.
However, women can be ambitious also. There are enough women in business, politics, entertainment, and, yes, sports, to demonstrate that women have the drive and capacity to achieve as much as men. If they do not reach their potential this could be because of how they are socialized. I also think that women are wired differently when it comes to babies and children. That is, women feel a more visceral connection to their children than men do. Women are programmed to love and protect in a way that is different than for men. Therefore, given the choice of a stellar career or being a stellar mom, women who think they cannot have both will often choose to just be a mom.
Golf requires an enormous sacrifice. Many hours per week are needed for practice, play, and travel. A great deal of money and resources are needed to pay for playing and practicing, equipment and travel, tournament fees, and coaching and lessons. Many women, especially those who are not established in the sport when their little ones come along, could decide to forgo the dream because it requires too much of a sacrifice on their children and families.
It is my hope and my dream that American society will better appreciate the contribution that woman can make and will be more encouraging of a better work/life balance for both men and women. According to statistics from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, women in the US took an average of 10.3 weeks for maternity leave in 2011, even though 12 weeks is enabled by the Family Leave Act. In contrast, many European countries grant 70-100% paid maternity leave ranging in amount from 16 weeks to 3 years.1 American society could be putting more emphasis on external achievement and less on the core Family unit.
Sure, a mother with a family may have to find a different strategy than another woman, without such responsibilities, to develop from an average to an elite golfer. Golf is all about score and it can be difficult to score well when you don’t have the same amount of time and access to resources. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. There are too many other factors for it to be a simple formula, or recipe, for success. A woman who is sacrificing herself to incorporate golf into her life at a later stage is likely to have a greater investment and is motivated to make it work. She is doing it entirely for herself. She is likely to have a different perspective, one that could be less detrimental, toward her golf game. And she is likely to get the most out of the time she does have making those hours on the range all about Quality and not Quantity.
I believe it is possible. I believe that becoming a mother does not have to mean giving up on your dream to play golf. As Walt Disney said: “If you can dream it you can live it.”♣