|Janina Jacobs |
’You swing like a girl’
Thursday, March 10, 2011
By Mark Anderson
Almost 40 years have passed since Title IX was enacted and,
still, a comment like "You swing like a girl" is perceived as an insult. For those of you who haven’t been around
that long, Title IX legislation addressed the lack of females’ sports
opportunities in high school and college and allowed women to play on men’s
teams if there were no comparable women’s teams.
Not too much is said anymore about the law
since women's athletics have become a major factor in most schools. Come to think of it, you don’t hear the
old Virginia Slims cigarette slogan, "You've come a long way, baby," which came
out a little later and capitalized on Title IX by the portraying women athletes
as prime cigarette smokers...obviously not so appropriate today. But it surely sold a lot of
cigarettes at the time.
"Swinging like a girl" is a phrase no
man wants attributed to him, though why that should be is buried deep within
the psyche of many males who still assume superiority to women in a number of
areas. Golf is one of them. C'mon guys, you know you do. I’m simply putting it out here in
During one of the semi-final matches of
the PGA Tour's Accenture Match Play Championship on Saturday last month, the
always-effervescent Johnny Miller quipped that eventual runner-up Martin Kaymer had a "swing like a girl."
Quickly, the comment took off running
with a mind of its own when pundits everywhere assumed an it was an insult
against Kaymer. CBS Announcer Peter Kostis hit Twitter with "Ha Ha! I think Johnny just said Martin Kaymer has an LPGA swing! Wow."
So why was the comment taken negatively
to mean Kaymer's swing resembled that of an
uncoordinated and talentless woman rather the athletic swings of Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb,
or even Michelle Wie? I'd bet on their games against 95
percent of the male golfers out there. In many ways, it is still a man’s
However, some forward thinking has
emerged among the educated and learned fans of the game. The consortium of golf writers, editors
and instructors comprising the website The
A Position posted a running discussion on their new site, GearEffectGolf.com. Comments
reflected some enlightened thinking among those who follow the game closely.
Quite often I'm told by men that I "play
like a guy" – and they do mean it as a compliment. And, I've accepted the comments in that
way, so I'd suppose I'm as guilty as anyone in the reverse situation. Of course, the question I should really
be asking is, "Which guy?"
For all I know, they could be talking
about Charles Barkley.
Janina Parrott Jacobs, or the Silver Fox, is a multi-media consultant
specializing in golf, business, music, nutrition, fitness and women's
issues. She blogs about golf at The A Position. A 4 handicap, she lives in
Michigan. Her full bio is here.
Aren’t you the girl who cheats?
Monday, February 7, 2011
By Mark Anderson
"Hey, aren't you the girl who
Imagine hearing those words as
you walk to the first tee. A
number of years ago I was playing in a charity outing when this fellow decided
it was "cheating" to allow me to play the Forward Tees, as I had been
instructed to do by the Tournament Chair.
This issue has always been a bone
of contention between men and women; and because many courses still only have
one set of tees rated for women – and usually three or four for men
– one must ask the question, "How can every woman who plays golf,
regardless if she has a 36 handicap or a 2, possibly be lumped into only
playing one set of tees? The
answer is, they shouldn't".
For years, I'd played the regular
Men's tees, mostly because I grew up doing it and also because I played on
men's golf teams where everyone played the same tees. But I was always at a disadvantage,
always shorter than the guys off the tee. On a positive note, I was also
more accurate and had a better short game, mostly out of necessity. Back then, we weren't really
taught a power game, but rather a method with more finesse. There were a few women who could
bust it, but I was not one of them, which does not mean I wasn't often
victorious. Great length can
foster a false sense of being indestructible. It helps, but does not guarantee that
Today, courses are getting longer
and longer while equipment improvements appear to help some golfers hit it
farther. The surprising truth is
that the average handicap has not moved in years. Most people still cannot break 100.
On the LPGA Tour, driving
distances have increased, making it exciting to watch, and giving inspiration
to the average woman golfer that maybe, just maybe, she can do it too. However, there is a giant chasm
between what the professionals can do versus what the normal golfer can. Usually, this results in under-clubbing
and golfers often come up short.
On the charity circuit, I am frequently paired with women. Many who hit average drives of about 130
yards will then come to a 130-yard par-3, ask me what I'm hitting, then take
out the same club and expect to hit the green. Again, they fall far short.
The fact is, most clubs and
courses are just too long for women to play despite jibes from men about "the
Ladies Tees". Oddly enough,
when clubs want to change and shorten the distances, it is often the women who
complain the loudest...and I have no idea why. Perhaps it is because that's how "it's
always been done."
Ladies, do you get discouraged
when you just can't reach the green?
This may ease your mind:
There is a new study out that concludes that yardages set for most
women's Forward Tees is way too long.
This is really nothing new to those who have struggled to reach par-4's
in three or four shots and par-5's in more than that...but now it has been
A "fairness test" compiled by Jann E. Leeming and Arthur D.
Little was recently posed to women golfers through their Blog, "Golf With
Women," and the result is that women have been playing from tees that are about
1000 yards too long. Comparatively,
LPGA pros would have to set their tees at 9,600 and PGA pros at 10,400 yards to
equate what the average woman faces at 5,600, quite a "normal" yardage at many
Women were asked to respond to the
following questions on www.golfwithwomen.com:
1) How fair is a 5,600-yard
course for the average woman?
2) What would you think if we
told you that a 5,600-yard course would be equivalent to an 8,400-yard course
for average men?
3) How about an 11,200-yard
course for Matt Kuchar?
So, what do you think?
What was deemed "fair" was
calculated as having all players hit the same clubs into greens. With these figures, very few courses
would consider 4,200-yard tees which would be the norm for most women, who
generally hit their drive approximately130-140 yards.
How do you calculate what is
right for your game? Little
suggests playing a course that measures 30 times your average drive. If you don't know, or tend to exaggerate
like most players do, then try this:
calculate how far your 9-iron goes and multiply it by 2 to get your
estimated driving distance.
Example: If your average drive is 175 yards, "your"
course yardage should not exceed 5,250 yards. If you hit it 190, you can move up to
5,700 yards. If your 9-iron travels
80 yards, double it, and your estimated drive is 160. 160 x 30 suggests a course measuring
Men could certainly benefit from
this formula for tee selection as well.
I believe no one should move back from the Forward Tees or Senior Tees
until they can at least break 90 – and I'm being generous.
I've seen countless men step up
to Demon Tees at 6,800 yards when they couldn't hit the ball 200. And "getting your money's worth"
shouldn’t necessarily mean an exercise in futility, searching for golf balls in
wetlands, woodlands, and water hazards all day long.
Women should have fun on the
course and not feel compelled to make excuses for lesser lengths. Ladies, make your intentions known and
ask golf courses to move up those tees for more playable conditions...and ask,
also, for more than one set of tees to be rated for women.
Parrott Jacobs, or the Silver Fox, is a
multi-media consultant specializing in golf, business, music, nutrition,
fitness and women's issues. A 4 handicap, she lives in Michigan.
Her full bio is here.
Beginnings: Daddy’s girl
Thursday, January 20, 2011
By Mark Anderson
Many people wonder how an inner-city Detroit girl
raised in the 1960's became an international golf competitor, speaker, and
writer. I wonder myself. But extraordinary stories often have
You could see them almost any day of the week,
usually late in the afternoon. The
little girl was about eight, the boys a few years older, the dad a tad gray
– and balding. But, given
that marriage to the mom didn't happen until later in life, they were more than
ready to start a family. The kids
came pretty quickly.
The dad learned to play golf as an Army sergeant, a
Lou Gossett-type drill instructor, in WWII. All of his soldiers went through
strenuous exercises under his command, with many trying to weasel out, though
not succeeding. One sole recruit,
an Australian professional golfer named Jim Ferrier, struck a deal: "Go easy on me, Sarge...and I'll teach
you how to play golf."
Soon the dad was shooting par on some little-known
tracks on or near the California coast:
Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Cypress Point, Pasatiempo. In those days, patriotic course owners
and private club members allowed their precious soldiers the luxury. When the war ended, the dad could have
become a professional golfer, but back then golf pros entered clubhouses
through the rear door. The money
would not have been enough to care for the woman he was about to marry, nor the
kids they planned to have. So, he
became a Detroit firefighter instead.
He didn't stop playing golf. Instead, he tore up the local scene, a
feared opponent everyone tried to defeat.
He lost infrequently.
The flexible schedule of a firefighter allowed him to
play golf a lot, but more importantly, he had the time to do something
else. Those kids he hoped for? He had them now and would teach them to
play golf. The right way.
And so, you could see them almost daily on the back
nine of one of the city courses, Palmer Park. They practiced, they missed shots, yet
the lessons in etiquette and good sportsmanship were in plain sight. Seemingly endless groups played through,
but the dad and his brood never minded.
The kids were extremely polite.
There would be no temper tantrums or rude behavior allowed in this foursome then...or now.
When I think of the patience of that dedicated dad
– my Dad – I marvel at the countless hours he spent fashioning the
four of us...and a Mom who chauffeured us everywhere. You see, Dad didn't simply teach
us to play golf. He also formed us
into baseball, basketball, hockey, football, tennis, and bowling competitors
and, yes, even ping pong players.
Mom covered the arts: music, education, food preparation. I thank God for the luck to be borne of
parents who had time for us and for a Dad who didn't discount his only daughter
in favor of the boys. Girls didn't
play many sports and certainly not golf in the 60's...but I surely did. And I couldn't imagine that every girl didn't
do the same.
Dad, we called him Buckaroo, passed away in 2009 at
age 93. But the lessons learned and
the experiences I've had will find a place on these pages in the months to
come. All little girls should be so
lucky to have grown up as I did.
Keep that in mind if you're ever tempted to shortchange one kid over
another – male or female.
Jacobs, or the Silver Fox, is a
multi-media consultant specializing in golf, business, music, nutrition,
fitness and women's issues. A 4
handicap, she lives in Michigan. Her
full bio is here.