Recently an 11-year-old girl earned an opportunity to tee it up at Pinehurst in June for the United States Women's Open.
Lucy Li, a sixth grader from Redwood Shores, California,
became the youngest ever to qualify for the event. Although I am happy for Li,
I am not sure if this isn't some sort of child exploitation.I am concerned.
When I was 11, I was wiping my nose on my brother's sleeve
and participated in sports like creek stomping, 500, kickball and pickle.Expectations have changed.I appreciate pushing the envelope beyond what
many believe is achievable, but to what extent?
Recently I heard a compelling speaker on this very topic.
Charles R. Scott, The Family Adventure Guy spoke about taking his 8-year-old
son on a bike ride across Japan. In 2009, the duo peddled 2,500 miles, for 67
days and crossed 10 mountains. Then in 2011 he cycled the circumference of
Iceland in 46 days with his 10-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. In 2012 he
cycled across Western Europe in 42 days with his 11-year-old son and 5-year-old
daughter. In 2013 he cycled 1,700 miles of the Lewis and Clark Trail in 51 days
with his son of 12 years and daughter, 6.
People along his journey inevitably shared their disapproval
of forcing these young children through this excruciating experience. The
people would say "these children are too young to be doing this!"
His response was, "Don't limit humans on what they can
accomplish according to you." He always backed his belief with a proverb. The person who says it cannot be done should
not interrupt the person doing it.
Overall, his children felt a sense of accomplishment."Sure they would get bored" said Scott, "that
is why we have something called an imagination."
I think pushing human limits are a part of living.My wife runs marathons, teaches body pump, body
combat and cycle class in her spare time from being a Director at United Health
Care.She pushes her limits daily.I too went through some of the same rigorous
body pushing endeavors during my 10 years of playing professional basketball. (Now
I just try to maintain!)So I do
understand the idea of pushing your limits to live life like you should.I get the whole idea that pain is weakness
leaving the body. I get it.
But I am torn on what I think about Lucy Li.Last year, when asked at the Public Links
event if she wanted to play college or professional golf in the future, Li
shrugged and replied, "I don't know, just wherever it takes me." Li, delighting
galleries as she hopped and skipped down fairways, snapping her tiny fingers as
she sang between shots, became the youngest qualifier in history at the Women's
Amateur Championship in 2013.
She carded rounds of 74 and 68 on the Old Course at Half
Moon Bay Golf Links in California to not only qualify but also win by seven
strokes. Li will be 11 years 8 months 19 days old on June 19 at Pinehurst
Resort & Country Club in Pinehurst, N.C.
Li will eclipse the previous youngest qualifier, Lexi
Thompson, who was 12 years 4 months 18 days old when she played in the 2007
But she is not be the youngest-ever competitor; that
distinction belongs to Beverly Klass, who played in the 1967 Open at 10 years 7
months 21 days old, when qualification was not required. Sectional qualifying
for United States Golf Association championships started in 1976.
Last year, at 10 years 8 months 16 days old, Li became the
youngest player to advance into match play at the Women's Amateur Public Links
Championship — surpassing Allisen Corpuz of Hawaii, who qualified for the 2008
championship. Michelle Wie had previously been that event's youngest qualifier,
10 years 8 months 23 days in 2000.
There is no minimum age requirement at the Open.
"That's the democratic nature of all the championships
conducted by the U.S.G.A.," said Christina Lance, the assistant manager for
championships. "As long as players reach the handicap requirement, they can
attempt to qualify. This tournament is open to all."
Li, a youngster with ribbons in her hair, obviously looks
like a child, but she was eligible to qualify because her handicap is 2.4 or
Li handled the spotlight with ease in April at Augusta
National during Masters Week when she won the 10-11 age division at a Drive, Chip
and Putt Championship. Her poise, in spite of her age, has drawn high praise
from her swing coach, Jim McLean, who has trained her for nearly three and a
And when asked what she learns from watching pro golf on
television, Li, who is a fan of Rory McIlroy, said, "When you watch the men
play, their games are very interesting because they hit balls all over the
place and sometimes, they have to get out of the woods."
Qualifying for the Women's Open will continue through May
30. Alexa Pano, a 9-year-old from Florida, has entered the last qualifying
tournament in Vero Beach, Fla., and could surpass Li and Klass as the youngest
"It's a great thing for the future and growth of the game to
see these young players qualify," Lance said. "It's still pretty
Is the US Open exploiting youth to gain ratings?Is it the right of any parent to push their
children to feats that are often thought of as unobtainable by many? Why does
the NBA have the one and done rule? Can a kid just be a kid?Youth should be cherished, you will have the
rest of your life to be a grown up!