Hank Haney Under Fire By Michelle Wie and Others
Hank Haney has, among his other credentials, one superior item on his resume. He was instrumental in getting the young Tiger Woods to play like he did, and occasionally still does. I doubt that any of us are in a position to argue with his teaching chops. As a radio personality, though, his state of enlightenment leaves much to be desired.. Granted, he is not alone among those of the ‘ugh, grunt, belch’ locker room mentality, but he has a microphone, and yields it with extreme ignorance when it comes to women, golf, and race.
Recent remarks have used Asian LPGA members and an enormously important major coming on the calendar of the LPGA to make light of diversity on tour and women’s golf in general. He undoubtedly doesn’t realize it, but he criticized the international women’s golf industry by proudly declaring that he knows nothing about it.
Michelle Wie was among the first and most emphatic to answer, and clearly, she understood the whole issue a lot better than he did. She began by reminding him that the upcoming tournament will be the 74th playing of the U.S. Women’s Open. That being a fact, Haney has had decades in which to wake up to the emergence of the LPGA, whether or not it interests him. A group of women over half a century ago worked tirelessly to make it happen, and the result has been anything but trivial for many of us.
Wie worded her rebuttal very well, but whether Haney got it is unclear. Clearly, he is enmired in what used to be considered “innocent fun” decades ago. She also reminded him of the hard work that brought foreign players into an originally western tour. I believe that the women who founded the LPGA would applaud its world-wide participation, including the Korean stars.
The problem is, Haney’s brand of humor was never innocent, and in retrospect, not fun or funny. It is the same way of being that Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder, and Calvin Peete ran into when they were knocking on the PGA’s door way back when. People of all races have to deal with it all over the world in the present day, but golf has transitioned from a royal sport to a public one. The tours have diversified, creating a plethora of events, friendships and followings. If Haney could wrap his head around this, he might enjoy the inclusiveness of it all.
However, l look at his comment section, and see the same old thing. Korean women have ruined women’s golf. They should go home and play Korean courses that are perfectly fine. They represent an “invasion.” But just what is it that they have brought? High level competition, just what every good tour needs. They came from China, Japan and Thailand as well, although Haney’s ability to differentiate is unclear.They brought cultural opportunity, and the chance for the west to demystify its stupidly ancient view of the globe.
All those seemingly innocent examples of word play that sound so glib over the airwaves accomplish the same thing. They mark specific groups as “less than,” and promote treating one another as the “other.” Dogs treat other dogs that way. Black ants see red ants as enemies, not fellow ants, but a species that invented golf is supposed to be a lot smarter than that. This is not political correctness, but universal respect. If one encounters another human, and must wade through five stereotypes before arriving at “Oh, another human,” one has an ‘ism’ one would be better off without. Science confirms it. There is only one human race, and at our most genetically diverse, we match up at 99.9%.
As an older white male, it irks me when one of my sort tries to drag me back to the 1950s, or to the stone age, especially on the golf course. We are not all withered fossils who cling to defiance of acceptable behavior in the modern age. Many of us don’t want to carry that old burden around, and keeping up with the new century is fun when one looks at it the right way.
All this is to say, please update yourself, Mr. Haney, or get off the radio. There’s an Open this week, and I’d like to take it in without your contribution.