It’s a subject we’ve gotten into a few times in the past, but it looks like a tour pro is beginning to see a problem as well. I’m talking about kids playing on the pro golf tours. At one time it was a sixteen year old. Then it was a fourteen year old. Now, the European Tour is pushing the envelope and had a thirteen year old participate in the European Masters this past weekend. So really, at what point is the line to be drawn? Well, it seems Miguel Angel Jimenez is one player who has had enough.
Jimenez spoke out against the idea of having a thirteen year old in the tournament saying he should be playing against other players his own age, and that this type of pressure could ruin their careers. He even went as far as to accuse the organizers of using a kid to gain publicity for the tournament. Some other players defended the decision saying that the additional promotion is good for the game.
So what do you think? Is thirteen years old too young for a player to participate in a golf tournament? Especially when it’s a tournament as big as the European Masters? If you don’t think so, keep in mind, this same kid also played in the Volvo China Open back in May at the age of twelve! Me personally, I think so.
While I do agree that the extra promotion for the tournament is good for the sport as a whole, I feel more strongly that this does, in fact, cheapen the sport. A thirteen, fourteen or even a sixteen year old could not even be on the same court/field as a professional in any other major sport without risking his life. But in golf, it seems that these young players are popping up in more tournaments, and they’re getting younger and younger each time.
Also, as far as using young players simply to promote the tournament, I agree with Jimenez. I don’t think there is any other legitimate reason to add a thirteen year old kid to your tournament other than to help generate more of a buzz surrounding it. You mean to tell me there is no other tour pro deserving of a spot in the tournament ahead of a thirteen year old kid? How do you think that makes the tour pro’s who didn’t get the invite feel? One of them has to be thinking “Are you kidding me? I don’t get an invite, but a kid still struggling with his math homework does?!”
So where does it end? When is it enough? At what age do we put a cap on it? Is it 12? 11? 10?! Come on now. Do we really need to see this? We all know right from the start that the kid has no shot at winning. He barely has a snowballs chance in hell of even making the cut! So is it worth, as Jimenez says, ruining their careers? Well, I guess that’s up to the promoters. But as Jimenez indicated, and has sometimes been shown, sometimes it’s more about the money and promotion than it is the players.
Swing ’til you’re happy!