Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Weaning Wie — It’s time to let her go

Published

on

By Zak Kozuchowski

GolfWRX Managing Editor 

Jim Nantz called it “a win for the ages.” A 21-year-old Tiger Woods blew away the 1997 Masters field by 12 shots with a record-setting score of 18-under par. After sinking his final putt, Tiger walked off the green and shared a hug for the ages with his late father, Earl Woods.

No matter what you feel about Woods, it’s hard not to appreciate that moment. With his first Masters win, he changed golf forever. He made the game cool, bringing to golf countless athletes of all races who otherwise may have never thought to pick up a golf club. And with him every step of the way – molding his mental toughness, supporting him through the pressures of his superstar status, was Earl.

Michelle Wie shared a similar journey as Woods in her junior career.  At age 10, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, becoming the youngest-ever female golfer to do so. In 2003 at the age of 13, Wie become the youngest player to make an LPGA cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Her talent earned her a sponsor’s exemption to the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in 2005, where she fired a second-round 68 to miss the cut by a single shot. At 14, it was assumed that Wie would not only dominate the LPGA Tour as Woods did the PGA Tour, but that her prodigious length might allow her to be competitive on the PGA Tour as well.

Wie turned professional at age 16, and like Woods, signed a lucrative endorsement contract with Nike. Just as Woods, she also attended Stanford University, although her professional status kept her from competing in collegiate golf. But that is where the similarities between Woods and Wie end.

Now 23, Wie has been a major disappointment on the LPGA Tour. She has won only two tournaments and is still without a major title. Her run at PGA Tour events was questioned after her poor play at the 2007 Sony Open, where she missed the cut by 14 shots.

Since that time, the spotlight on the LPGA Tour has shifted from Wie to several other young talents, who are accomplishing feats that were expected of Wie.

Last year, Lexi Thompson became the youngest LPGA Tour player to win an event at the age of 16 (Wie wasn’t an LPGA Tour winner until the age of 20). Morgan Pressel became the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour major at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship at the age of 18, and Yani Tseng, who is a few months younger than Wie, already has five LPGA major titles and 10 other wins on the LPGA Tour.

There is plenty to criticize about Wie’s game, especially a lack of confidence with the putter. She has experimented with a belly putter, changing the way she holds the putter several times, once famously in the middle of a competitive round.

But the most easily criticized part of her game, however, is the lack of separation between Wie and her parents. Unlike the relationship between Woods and his father, a bond which was thought to be an important part of Woods’ success, Wie’s relationship with her father B.J. has been seen as a hindrance.

c

Wie has had enormous setbacks in her career. Early on, there were her ill-advised attempts to compete on the PGA Tour, an experiment that resulted in 11 out of 12 missed cuts (her one made cut occurred at a low-level Japan Golf Tour event). She has also suffered through multiple wrist injuries, and a dubious withdraw after 16 holes from the Ginn Tribute in 2007 where she was in jeopardy of losing LPGA Tour playing privileges for that year as she approached a round of 88.

It’s hard to say what exactly has derailed Wie’s career so far. By accepting sponsor’s exemptions to PGA Tour events, and only playing in the LPGA Tour’s largest events at a young age, she was rarely in a position to succeed. In his youth, Tiger Woods only played in events that he thought he could win. Wie, however, was placed in situations where making the cut was an accomplishment.

Despite Wie’s talents, she is not in the top 5 of any of the LPGA Tour’s statistical categories. While she’s currently ranked ninth in driving distance, she is ranked outside the top 100 in every other category with the exception of GIR (86th) and sand saves (97th). She’s currently 41st in the LPGA Rolex Rankings and on the bubble to qualify for the U.S. Solheim Cup team.

 

As Bobby Jones said, “Golf is mostly played on a six-inch course, the space between your ears.” For Wie, the most important course may be creating more than a 6-foot space from her parents.

It is said that a watched pot never boils. Likewise, an over-analyzed golfer rarely reaches his or her full potential. Wie graduated from Stanford last spring, and is at the time of her career where most LPGA Tour stars are expected to flourish. But because of Wie’s early success, it feels as though she is on the downside of her career. But she doesn’t have to be.

After a tough round, all golfers need a little breathing room. It gives them a chance to reflect and move forward. Since Wie first attracted the world’s spotlight, I doubt she has ever had any breathing room. And as the pictures from last week’s Evian Masters show, she certainly doesn’t have any now. Maybe it’s time she’s given some, especially by those closest to her.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour talk” forum.

You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz and GolfWRX @GolfWRX

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Ron

    Dec 28, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Her parents and Nike ruined her, trying to compete with men, forcing her to over swing to try to meet the men in driving, which is impossible.

    She is now so screwed up she rarely hits even par.

  2. Dave

    Nov 13, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Michelle Wie would probably play better golf if her parents would stay at home. They create too much pressure for her. I’ve worked 7 LPGA tournaments that she has competed in and her parents walk every hole with her. He watches with binoculars and makes notes. They are both on the practise putting green with her before tournamets while the other girls might have a caddie with them but usually by themselves. They smother her.
    The other girls talk about her and have been heard calling her queenie.
    At the Ochoa Invitational last week, of the 36 girls playing there were 10 girls Michelle’s age or younger and they’re not in the same situation. The parents should give her some space and let her breathe.

  3. Yo!

    Sep 1, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I’d say she’s doing pretty well … A big contract fron Nike and no pressure to succeed. She’s already rich at her age and she is still very young. Also, what do you guys know about her relationship with her parents while looking at things from left field?

  4. kurt andrews

    Aug 23, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Has anyone given any thought to the fact that maybe Michelle Wie wants her parents to travel with her?

  5. Phil

    Aug 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I wonder if her Dad would like to know what I’d like to do with and to her?

  6. ed williams

    Aug 14, 2012 at 6:27 am

    My wife and I go to a few LPGA tourneys every year..Her parents follow her around like wolves..We’ve seen recently where she has snapped at them during the practice rounds..The father follows her around the course..Always 3 or 4 paces behind her..Her Mom stays on the cart path but always even with Michelle when she’s hitting..You can see Michelle trying to ignore them..Look at how well Michelle played at the Solheim a couple of years back when parents weren’t allowed to be with the players..There is definitely a major problem there..She is so unhappy with them around..You can see it on her face..

  7. steve76t

    Aug 14, 2012 at 1:26 am

    I totally agree with this article. Its been a couple years now, but I followed Michelle’s group at the Reno Tahoe Open a couple years ago. Here mom wasn’t too big an issue as she’d watch from a distance. Most of the time she’d be a half hole head of her. Watched the tee shots from 300 yrds down the fairway or be greenside on the par 3’s. Her dad on the otherhand was never more than 10yrds from Michelle. Even worse, in my opinion, was that Michelle’s dad had a comment for EVERY shot she made. Good or bad. Turned the ball over a little too much & dad would say something like ‘you were a little too flat on that swing’… or on a good shot you’d hear him say something like ‘nice shot! you’ll need to cut it a little more on the next tee’.
    Dad is the one who needs to back off from what I saw. Maybe he could watch from half a hole away like mom did at the RTO? Problem is that I doubt that pops really wants any distance & he’s probably convinced himself that he’s her best influence in her quest to get better. Won’t know until he actually does back off and let her go…

  8. doug bear

    Aug 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    seriously…. are you asians out there sayiny you are the only ones with parental tendecies. How racist or immature can you be ?

  9. doug bear

    Aug 13, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Please let her go…. like out of u.s.a. She is nothing but a baby and will always be a baby. If not given a silver spoon by Nike I am sure she would have been a democratic tax taker.

  10. Devin

    Aug 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Slim and Ben have it right. Passion is all that is lacking from Michelle’s career – play golf on her own terms. S isn’t wrong either…I have a keen understanding of Korean culture, and there’s certainly a desire there to protect and nurture.

    What is needed to take Michelle to the next level is a head coach, and certainly some space from the parents (no disrespect meant at all to Mr & Mrs Wie). Michelle is a world-class golfer waiting to happen, but her head isn’t in it…YET. When it gets there, she’ll dominate. I look forward to seeing it happen.

  11. cltambo

    Aug 10, 2012 at 10:39 am

    You can have all the physical talent in the world, which she does, but you also have to have the desire and mental capacity. Just listen to the different in the interviews between Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson. Michelle sounds like a teenage girl playing golf for a living and Lexi sounds like a professional golfer.

  12. Slim

    Aug 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I question Michelle’s desire. She may have become bored with the game, and she is already wealthy. She loved her time in college, which was probably pretty normal. It seems to me she’s lost her passion for the game.

  13. Ben

    Aug 4, 2012 at 3:51 am

    There is a lot of truth in this article. The comment that an over-analyzed golfer rarely reaches his or her potential. She has taken a lot of criticism from the media which in my opinion has really taken a toll on her mentally and it has leaked a lot into her golf game. I think she needs to cut all her coaches and just play golf on her own terms, how she thinks it should be played.

  14. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 3, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Nice post Zak,

    Yes I agree she needs some space to grow and let her natural talent flourish. It’s like everywhere she goes there is someone in her ear telling her what to do.

    A little bit of space and time to herself could be just the tonic to see her golf really take off.

  15. Donald

    Aug 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    She needs to get away from David Ledbetter too. Learn how to just play and not be so mechanical. She’s to talented.

  16. S

    Aug 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    As I am asian and parents, I understand where her parents come from. They try to protect her and try to helpher in good intention. However, I do believe after high school age, kids need to start taking responsibilities, protecting themself and having own idea and actions.They may make mistakes, but that is ok which make them stronger person. It is not too late for her parents to let her go little. but mentaly they need to be there for her when she really needs help.

  17. Bill Miller

    Aug 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

    It should be obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that her parents haven’t a clue about nurturing a young talent. And I don’t think they are doing it for her either. It’s all about them.

    They’ve pretty much ruined that young lady. I seriously doubt she will ever amount to much now.

  18. Patrick

    Aug 3, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Completely agree. She’s not 12 years old anymore, she’s a grown woman and it’s time the parents let her live her life and get their own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Podcasts

Gear Dive: USC head golf coach Chris Zambri on the challenges that will come with the new NCAA rules

Published

on

In this Special Edition of The Gear Dive, USC Men’s Head Golf Coach Chris Zambri discusses his thoughts on the new NCAA mandates, how to get recruited, and the pros and cons of recruiting can’t-miss superstars.

  • 9:55 — Zambri discusses thoughts on new rule
  • 17:35 — The rule he feels is the toughest navigate
  • 26:05 — Zambri discusses the disadvantages of recruiting a “can’t miss” PGA star
  • 32:50 — Advice to future recruits
  • 44:45 — The disadvantages of being tied to an OEM as a college golf team

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy

Published

on

New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

Your Reaction?
  • 39
  • LEGIT7
  • WOW9
  • LOL2
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP3
  • OB1
  • SHANK23

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?

Published

on

Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

Your Reaction?
  • 11
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK5

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending