Grouchy Golf Blog

Saturday, May 13, 2006 at 11:24 PM

Michelle Wie Winless in the Past?

The popular knock on Michelle Wie is that she hasn't won much. People often point to her lack of wins at the amateur level and conclude that she is doomed to failure at the professional level. In my opinion, this is short-sighted at best.

People seem to overlook that Michelle grew up in Hawaii. While it may not appear significant at first blush, it is a major reason for her limited track record at the amateur level. Quite simply, junior golf tournaments in Hawaii are lacking both in number and in the quality of the competition. The junior golf events with any substance are all located within the continental United States. Therefore, any accomplished Hawaiian junior golfer who wishes to compete at the highest junior levels would have to travel to the mainland. Easier said than done.

Let's assume that you are a parent of a junior golfer living in Hawaii. She is entered in the Rolex Girls Junior Championship this June 13 – 16 in Park City, Utah and you need to make arrangements.

Booking the lowest cost itinerary on Expedia on May 6, 2006, the total cost is $1,739.10. This amount includes 2 roundtrip tickets, 1 room for 5 nights at the Sky Harbor Suites, and a 5-day economy car rental. Throw in another $300 for incidentals and subtract out the maximum AJGA stipend of $250 and the net cost of this trip is $1,789.10.

But the cost isn't the only sacrifice that you're making for your daughter. Air travel from Hawaii to Salt Lake City is about 10 hours each way. Therefore, to arrive for the registration at 9am on Tuesday, June 13, you need to spend most of Monday, June 12 traveling. The tournament ends late in the afternoon on Friday, June 16. However, there are no return flights past 5pm. Therefore, you must fly on the following day. All told, the time you must sacrifice for this tournament amounts to practically a full week. If you are a working parent, you probably have 2 weeks of vacation per year. Do the math and you'll discover just how many mainland tournaments your daughter can enter per year.

In effect, a Hawaiian junior golfer who wishes to play against the best would require the equivalent of a Hawaiian vacation for each event. Any trip from Hawaii to the mainland is a tremendous burden of cost and time. Even the shortest trip from Hawaii to the mainland is still at least 5 ½ hours each way!

Here in California, some of the top junior golfers in the nation compete with each other on a weekly basis. Most tournaments are just a short drive away. Had Wie grown up in California, I'm sure that she would have built up an impressive amateur resume.

So, is it any wonder why Wie's amateur record is so barren? It's just unrealistic to expect Wie to have entered many prestigious amateur golf events in the first place. How do you win tournaments that you can't enter? In the end, it may not really matter. History has proven that winning at the amateur level doesn't guarantee success at the pro level. knows that all too well.


Blogger Erik @ The Sand Trap said...

Her parents have never had a problem taking time off to go to an event. BJ is a college professor who, in the past five years, has basically written his own schedule. And you're full of it if you think the parents actually had to pay for everything. There's a $250 allowance, but there's no doubt in my mind that BJ was paid by many as a "consultant" as Earl Woods was.  


Blogger msthilaire said...

It's a decent theory. I kind of think she just decided she didn't want to play in them because her goal was to turn pro, and didn't really care much about amateur victories.

Remember she's only 17, and she mostly concentrated on professional tournaments for the past couple of years.

I'm sure had she had chosen to enter more amateur events, she would have won more.

I don't think she will have any problems on tour, altough it seems she hasn't really hit her stride yet.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that apologizing for Michelle is irresistable for some, but this is simply the most ridiculous excuse proferred up to date. I am sorry to burst your bubble, but Michelle Wie has been extended everything but a trophy. She has been a media celebrity in the golf world since the age of 12 (at least). She has been given all sorts of incentives to play at all manner of tournaments. I do not believe the Wie family is economically challenged. My children are at a greater disadvantage than she ever was due to the economics, and yet I somehow manage to get them to events.  


Anonymous Bryan said...

I am also on the side of the fence that says this theory is not correct.

Michelle didn't have to turn pro. She doesn't have to accept every tournament exemption known to man thrown at her. She could choose to play in almost ANY amateur golf tournament in the country, especially female tournaments. Michelle's skills have gotten her this far, and her parents I am sure don't make chicken feed, so forking out the couple hundred for some tournament entry fees is not the problem.

Her personal goal, it seems, is that she wanted to become a professional and compete at the highest level. Well, she has done this...only problem is when she will get a trophy. Time will tell, but I think she knows that if she entered amateur tournaments against her peers, she would win a good chunk of them.

I don't see a problem in doing that prior to making the jump to the pro status, but hey, thats just me.  


Blogger Miranda said...

Dean Wilson said earlier in the week that the competition in the US qualifier in Hawaii wasn't traditionall all that tough. So, even if Michelle had entered tons of amateur tournaments in Hawaii, winning any of them wouldn't be the accomplishment her detractors have been hanging their hats on. And everyone is focusing on the cost of Michelle as an amateur child playing in mainland tournaments as if it's all about money. But how can you make a 12 year old do all that traveling just to play in an amateur event? Even if she gets there, she doesn't have time to properly prepare for the tournament. So she would end up traveling all that way, losing, then going back home and trying to catch up on school work and trying to rebound from the experience of losing.

Charley Hoffman said today that the most pressure he felt wasn't being in contention and winning an event on the PGA tour this year, it was the last round of the Nationwide Tour championship when he was just playing for his tour card. Winning wasn't everything to him.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see. She couldn't afford to fly to California in the summer for a few amateur tournament that even allow a small stipend, but she seemed to have plenty of money to fly to England, Japan, Korea and all over the continental United States each spring, summer for LPGA and PGA events that don't (officially) allow any stipends. And didn't someone report that she took a private jet to the Women's British Open last year. Not buying it. She didn't play amateur events because her game plan was to play in professional events and show herself to be a big-time player where she could woo the attention of Nike and Sony in anticipation of the big contract signing on her 16th birthday.  


Blogger Golf Grouch said...

The point of the original post is to postulate that if Michelle Wie had been raised within the continental U.S., she would have entered many more junior amateur events. In other words, her geographical circumstances had a profound influence on her competitive golf path.

There's no denying that Morgan Pressel possesses a stellar junior amateur resume. However, if all junior amateur events were held in Hawaii, just how many of those events would she have entered, let alone win?  


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