Tiger Woods competed in his first National Championship at the age of 13. Lucy Li, who at 11 is the youngest to make it through the U.S. Open's qualifiers, has been competing for a spot since the age of 9. Beverly Klass, however, played in the U.S. Open without qualifying at the age of 10 in 1967.
Women fighting to be a part of the professional sport isn't new, but there are still rampant displays of misogyny in the sport, and the women-run component, the L.P.G.A., are doing very little to confront and protect the female players' rights.
In late October, the former P.G.A. president Ted Bishop called the English golfer Ian Poulter a "Lil Girl" on Twitter. Bishop was impeached for the comment, but it still doesn't correct the behavior or the demeaning nature of the attack to the strong women in the industry and his daughters and granddaughter. Why is femininity still being used as an insult? Why is the L.P.G.A not as outraged as the fans when it comes to the deep running sexism in the industry?
The comment can not be forgiven, not by saying it is referencing the strength and young age of Lucy Li, and not with the continued polite brush offs of sexist behaviors from the men in the industry.
Despite all of this, Li seems blind to the discrimination. After the US Women's Open, Li said, "I like golf because it's different from other sports. Anybody can play it, if you're tall, short, fast or slow. That's what I like about it."
So to Li, it doesn't matter that Golf Digest's idea of putting a women on the cover of the April issue is to place the fiancé, Paulina Gretzky, of PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson. She has yet to notice this sort of behavior, or yet to comment on it.
Either way, I believe the attitude of Lucy Li is one of the reasons fans and the P.G.A. should keep their eye on her. She is proving herself a worthy competitor thus far, and because she loves and enjoys it I believe she will go far in helping dismantle the sexism that remains.
Hopefully though, the L.P.G.A will start to stand up for the female athletes who deserve equal attention and representation, and will not wait to handle these sexist situations. Maybe in a handful of years Li will join the committee and teach them a few things about being inclusive for the love of golf!
Until then, here is a video of a campaign by Always, trying to dismantle the derogatory connotation of the phrase, "Like A Girl".
Photos via of The New York Times