Right Point Web Banner


LPGA Today

Why Shouldn't Asian Women Dominate Golf? - Part 1

May 14, 2013

by William Szczepanek

Inbee ParkA few years ago I was disappointed by the large number of Asian golfers who were taking over the leaderboard on the LPGA. Now, I root for them as well as my USA favorites. This is no longer a wake-up call for Americans. It's a move it or lose it situation.

Na Yeon ChoiOf the top 10 LPGA players in the world 7 are Asian and 4 are Korean. Of the top 100 players 35 are Korean. Of the top 500 players 146 are Korean.

It's the question that American golfers wish would go away ─ why are Asian golfers dominating women's golf? The subject comes up more and more often and the reasons are becoming more profound. But, like many other issues that are difficult to understand there are many factors that lead us to this conclusion.

So Yeon RyuThis year, 2013, the USA started strong, but the South Koreans are closing the gap. Last year, 2012, the Koreans virtually destroyed their competition in the second half of the year.  Who will dominate in 2013? I expect that Asians, particularly South Koreans, will again dominate women's golf in 2013. The question is no longer why is this happening, but why shouldn't it be happening?

Jiyai ShinThe reason for writing this article isn't to complain or to put down American golfers. It isn't about the fact that current American professionals are not competing as well as they used to. It is more about the fact that the American system no longer fosters successful outcomes the way it once did. The USA is six times as large as South Korea and all things being equal we should have six times as many excellent golfers.

Champion golfers may be in our midst, but do not have the support system to take them to the top. The same is true for many other walks of life. I am American. I want our kids to succeed, but Americans are being beaten in many other areas of life other than golf and for many of the same reasons.

The answer to the question is largely cultural, but a lot goes into that word cultural that we don't or can't comprehend all at one time. In some respects the word cultural in the U.S. has become a negative word. Some offspring of current negative culture dialogue include words and phrases like "geeky", "have no life", or "elite". These words have double meanings and really are a reflection of a more egalitarian view that makes life seem unfair. I want Americans to succeed in the future. I want the future to be soon. It is also in the best interest of the Asian golfers for Americans to succeed, besides just having someone meaningful to beat. No offense for excluding my European or Australian golfing friends. They are in the same boat.

To make this treatise seem more palatable and not totally politically incorrect, I will speak to the South Korean culture rather than Asian, since they are quite different, though they share many of the same meaningful attributes. Also, the South Koreans have become the dominant force in women's golf overall, so excluding others is not totally without merit, though you see much of the same effect coming from Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and soon China.  But will their successes be the demon that ultimately takes them down?

Just like the fact that there are many different types of Americans, there are also many types of Koreans, so comparing cultures is particularly difficult since both are changing very rapidly. It may be more of a directional thing than specific attributes of one versus another. If we can see the good of all sides then we all can get better.

Life is not fair. Once we recognize that life isn't fair then we can move on. Opportunities present themselves to individuals in different ways, but hardly ever are they given to anyone. In most cases opportunities are created. Where am I going with this?

At one point in time Americans dominated the world at just about everything. We were the richest nation on Earth (still are, for a while anyway), and could accomplish anything we set out to accomplish. We were the envy of the world. Other countries are now beating Americans at their own game. How? Because many Americans have forgotten what made them successful. Work hard and you'll get ahead was a common bit of advice for the young, and it worked because the rest of the country supported the effort. From parents, to schools, to corporations everyone understood that the bottom line depended on long term growth in all areas, not on finding the easiest, cheapest or quickest way to get to the top. So, just how are we losing at this game and how can we learn from our Asian friends and work together to make this whole thing better for everyone?

Let's take it a bit at a time and look at various reasons why South Koreans are substantially more successful at golf in this four part series of articles:

Part II Genetics, Practice, Music and Education
Part III Work Ethic, Parenting and Culture
Part IV Heroes and Role Models, Sponsorships  and Money




LPGA logo

"These Girls Do Rock"