Junior Golf: The Solheim Cup Lesson 2

imageIn this Friday Flop Shot we’ll look at another lesson to be learned from the Solheim Cup. Every golf tournament is a stage and the entrants are under scrutiny. International team competition like the Solheim Cup provides the biggest stage with a gigantic microscope for seeing and commenting on each player’s every move and shot.

In match play, such as the Solheim Cup, it is common for short putts, maybe 2-feet or less to be “conceded” or to be acknowledged by the opposition to be “good”. So if your daughter’s remaining 2-foot putt was “conceded”, she would pick her ball up and the other team would finish putting or if both teams had finished the hole they would proceed to the next tee. The key here is that your daughter must never assume a putt is conceded. Ask specifically, usually something like “Is that good?” Make certain of the response before doing anything.

So last week Alison Lee of the US thought her par putt had been conceded on #17, and picked the ball up. Well, it was not conceded and she lost the hole. Big mental error. Europe could have chosen to “give” her the putt after that fact, thus negating the loss of hole, but chose not to do so. While all this is within the match play rules, golf is a game of sportsmanship, honor, integrity and good etiquette and manners. All the women involved were very distressed by this event, some being in tears. Alison Lee felt terrible because loss of the hole contributed to losing the match in a very close team competition. The Europeans had second thoughts after they were seen by some as ruthless and not playing within the sportsmanship spirit of the game. Europe’s Suzann Pettersen apologized after the match. (photo pbs.twimg.com)image

Or, as they say, on the other hand, let’s look at the finish of the 1969 Ryder Cup hosted by England. On the 18th hole of the final match between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklyn, Nicklaus made his par putt and Jacklyn had a knee-knocking 2-footer left for his par. In one of the great all-time examples of good sportsmanship, Jack Nicklaus walked over and picked up Tony Jacklyn’s coin, conceding the putt, halving their match and ending the 1969 Ryder Cup in a tie. US team captain Sam Snead was furious and other US team members were surprised to say the least. Over time this gesture by golf’s greatest player has overcome the initial critics and is now seen as perhaps the greatest example of good sportsmanship of all time.

20 years from now what will be said about the European Women’s decision not to concede Alison Lee’s putt after the fact? They may be put into the Nicklaus/Jacklyn conversation, but at the other end of the scale. Please instill into your daughter that she can choose her actions but she cannot choose the consequences of her actions. Encourage her to make good decisions, because she knows what they are.

See you on #1 tee…with an attitude of good sportsmanship… Sam

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