Last week everyone was agog over Michelle Wie, the Hawaiian who became the youngest golfer to play her way into an LPGA tournament through qualifying, but I didn't understand all the fuss. The game has gotten so young that Sergio Garcia qualifies as an elder statesman. Wie is just the latest (pre)teenybopper who's exceptionally fit and big for her age (5'10" and 150 pounds), and has enjoyed years of topflight coaching. Inspired by the success of her peers, she is also utterly fearless.
' N SYNC
The two most impressive things about Wie, who shot a six-over 146 to miss the cut by three strokes, are her preternatural maturity and her fabulous swing fundamentals. Her grip, posture and nice, wide base with her feet are ideal. This allows for a big shoulder turn, a superwide swing arc (above) and terrific balance. All of this results in tremendous clubhead speed and length.
Golf used to be for sissies and kids who couldn't play "real sports." No more. Now golf is cool and attracts athletes who in the past might have gravitated toward other sports. My two sons—Stephen, II, and Sean, 9— recently told me they're quitting Little League to focus on golf, and I can't say I was the least bit surprised.
ALL OR NOTHING
Kids in this era of fast food and MTV have far less patience than their elders did, and on the course this antsiness yields lower scores. I was taught to play defensively and that par was a good score, but I advise juniors to think birdie. This aggressiveness can lead to wild swings, but I'd rather see a kid shoot 68-81 than 74-75. Experience and swing guidance can fix the flaws that cause rippers to make big numbers, but it's all but impossible to teach conservative thinkers to go low.