Golf and motherhood

Really interesting article in the Times a few days ago about the challenges of trying to be a mother and an elite golfer.  Again, its a really stark example of how important gender remains in our society– elite male golfers simply don’t face this problem.

For Kerr, the impediment to motherhood is golf, and there is no automatic relief. A woman’s athletic prime and her peak child-bearing years overlap like a total eclipse of the moon. A woman’s fertility peaks in her mid-20s and declines sharply after the age of 35, a real conundrum for golfers, whose games, like the courses they play, take years to mature…

Over the past two years, the L.P.G.A. Tour’s two biggest stars retired to devote their energies to family. The departures of Annika Sorenstam at 38 and Lorena Ochoa at 28 rocked a tour that was reeling from lost sponsors and tournaments.

In this age of million-dollar purses and million-mile travel, can the L.P.G.A. keep its superstars long enough to increase the tour’s following? The players’ fitness trailer is a reminder of the tour’s weakened state; its sides are adorned with larger-than-life images of Sorenstam and Ochoa.

Michael Whan, the L.P.G.A. commissioner, said women’s professional golf was “a tough, aggressive, highly paid career path, and people struggle with what kind of competitor they want to be and what kind of mom they want to be.”

Truth is, I think if I had elite golfing talent, I’d struggle with that kind of father I want to be.  I cannot imagine any occupation that would take me away from my kids so much, but lip service aside, this really doesn’t seem to be a problem for all that many men.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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