Why do African Women Golfers Participate Less than Men?
I had the misfortune of running across an article on the subject of African female golfers earlier today. I intended to return to it later with a commentary because I was intrigued by the question, and then couldn’t find it again. It was gone from every major golf magazine, and I can’t explain it. I got loads of articles on the African-American women who were met with the police for playing too slow. I learned that there are actually courses remaining in the U.S. who have legally managed to prevent a black foot from walking on their grass.
I learned some things about the young African American women taking on the various tours, including Ginger Howard, Mariah Stackhouse, Sadena Parks, Cheyenne Woods, and Shasta Averyhardt. I learned that Parks was the first woman of her heritage to earn her card through the Symetra Tour. Howard, just 17, has come through Q-school. Stackhouse was the youngest to get into the U.S. Women’s Open field, and Cheyenne has two pro wins. That was all interesting and gratifying.
I took a little historical tour, and was reminded that Althea Gibson, the great tennis player, also played on the women’s golf tour, and did pretty well. I refreshed my memory of Renee Powell and Laree Sugg. Better and better as a learning experience, but one thing was still off, and the question was still unanswered. I know that African American women are out there doing everything in sports that their white counterparts do, But, where are the golfing women from the actual continent of Africa? The men are engaged and competitive. What is it that is not happening?
The article I can’t find probably would have given me insights into the answer, but I’ll have to try it alone, and believe me, I’m just speculating. The game of golf is basically a European sport. We can talk about ancient Chinese works of art that look very golfish, but the west’s version of golf came from in-house, most specifically from Scotland. Back then, the favorite activities of the aristocracy didn’t make it down to the classes who work for a living, and they certainly didn’t make it to distant continents or to indentured servants. It’s the same for the small number of Native American golfers taking up the game professionally, or at least seriously. It’s a game created by a part of the world that was problematic for their part of the world. Even in this century, it may not be seen through the same lens that white cultures use.
Still, my counter to that is is the fact that hitting a ball, and seeing what we can make it do is a powerful thing to the human psyche. At some point in our lives, most of us give in to it, even if it’s a stick and a rock on our way to school. Racially, we are over 99% identical to one another, which begs the question of making making so much fuss in the first place. Everyone gets caught up in hitting that rock, regardless of birthplace. Is it something between male and female culture in Africa that makes the men feel comfortable in coming out to compete? Is it something in the family structure or the demands of career life?
There are numerous cultures that haven’t yet taken up that stick, but we said the same thing about Thailand and China just a few years ago. Look at them now. As a golfer who wants to see the game go as global as possible, I would love it if someone intimately connected to the African continent, if only spiritually, would weigh in on this. Or, at the very least, if someone is able to locate that article that asked where the African woman is, please forward the title to me. I may not always come up with the right answer, but I always want one, and often won’t sleep until I’ve come up with something plausible.That’s an awfully big land mass to not play golf in.