Doris Chen Disqualified – Oh Mother!

Mother Moves Ball for Daughter Chen, Who Hits it Anyway

Just when we feared golf might attain normalcy again, here comes the next twist of fate. We call it “The Curse of the Manic Stage Mother.” Of course, the institution of being a stage parent doesn’t have to occur on or around the golf course. It can be seen anywhere mothers and fathers are living intense vicarious lives through their children, or are just doing anything necessary to help them power to the top. Some, like my mother, was essential to my preparation, but dutifully stood silently in the shadows for the actual event, and never sought out the spotlight, even when it went very well. Other instances, however, can be cringe-worthy. I have seen a parent walk out onto the stage of a musical theater performance in street clothes to place a lost prop in the hands of her daughter in mid-song. I have seen parents hang on the shoulder of teachers in several professions like parrots on a pirate, interrupting or ‘reinforcing’ everything that is said – and much worse than this. However, many people who are of this ‘can’t leave it alone’ mania fail to realize how transparent golf can be. There are spectators, cameras and screens everywhere. Most players who have distinguished themselves as young golf stars, such as Doris Chen has long abandoned any urge to cheat because the odds are likely that they will be uncovered early on.

Doris Chen was a star at USC three years ago, and won the individual NCAA national championship. She was a three-time All-American and missed her first chance at the LPGA Q-school because of an ankle injury. She has played on the Symetra Tour, garnering $643 in twelve events. Not a rousing start, but oh well. This year’s version of Q-school involved eight rounds of competitive golf, and Chen was on the 6th one, at Pinehurst of all places. The gist of the disqualification is this. She hit a drive out-of-bounds, into the trees, bushes, etc. As she walked down the fairway, it apparently reappeared, in-bounds This happens sometimes by dint of a fan supporting his or her favorite player, etc. The funny thing is that the culprit was the golfer’s mother, However odd that may seem, that is not a penalty, because it wasn’t through any action of the daughter, unless you’re a highly suspicious type. A less grumpy spectator might suggest a one-stroke penalty, because that’s how it would likely end up after hitting back to the fairway. Chen and her caddie were informed that the ball had been moved, and that’s the hard part of it. Whether it was her mother or a total stranger who moved the ball, Chen hit it anyway, knowing about it. Suddenly, honor is involved, not just how many strokes it would take to get there. Apparently, the moved ball, through Mrs. Chen’s actions, was immediately reclassified as “the wrong ball” – and you just can’t hit the wrong ball in competitive golf.

Certainly,  Chen’s mother has been around a lot of her daughter’s competitions, and one would think her far too knowledgeable to misunderstand the perils of moving the ball. Still, there was one part of it all that struck me in a familiar place. Mrs. Chen was identified as the ball-mover by a nearby homeowner. That smacked a little of TV spectators calling in fouls rather than course marshals. Be that as it may, the disqualification is a big “better luck next year.” Among commentary offered by fans are those who recommend a lifetime ban from professional golf – ouch. Others refer to the term ‘penalty’ as an “understatement.” As for Chen, she denies any knowledge of the affair, and thereby denies involvement in any conspiracy. That’s all right for now. Any further action from the tour would be handled privately with the golfer in question. Chen asks that we “respect [her] privacy.” That’s not a problem, but for future reference, you might want to keep your mom in plain sight if she’s going to attend your tournaments. It is, as one columnist described it, “a bad look.”

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