Column: Sending women to do a man's job

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 18, 2014 at 7:04 pm •  Published: June 18, 2014
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PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Men generally don't watch women play golf.

This weekend, though, they should.

Not all of those men will tune into the U.S. Women's Open for the right reasons, mind you, but it could turn out to be a win either way. In spite of themselves, some might actually learn a lot. It's what happens pretty much every time you send women out to do a man's job.

Calling the tournament that begins Thursday at Pinehurst No. 2 the latest installment in the "Battle of the Sexes" would be a stretch, not to mention a little stale. Yes, the women will be playing the same course the men played last week in the U.S. Open, but it will be some 900 yards shorter. The tees will be up, the flags will be easier to get at, the weather will be different and so on. There's a dozen other variables that make it an apples-to-oranges comparison. But the comparison will be made nonetheless.

So let's get the most important one out of the way first: unless you play golf for a living or on scholarship, you couldn't break 100 on either course.

Most of us can't hit two good shots in a row, let alone as many as five. Pros of both sexes struggle with that, which is why they call golf a game of misses. But instead of trying to overpower a golf course, most women work their way around it. There are exceptions, of course, long-hitting Lexi Thompson to be sure. But what anyone can learn by watching most of the women play is how to miss a lot better, not to mention a lot less.

You'll notice that from the very first tee shot. Unlike most men, nearly all of the women will try to hit the ball only as far as they can hit it straight.

"You could make the fairways as wide as this," said two-time men's U.S. Open champion and ESPN analyst Andy North, pointing down one of the aisles inside the press tent at Pinehurst, "and some of them still wouldn't miss a fairway for the entire month."

You'll see the same thinking applied to every other shot on the course. When they miss fairways and wind up in the scruffy, beach-like patches of sand lining the fairways, instead of attempting the hero shot, they'll chip out and cut their losses. They'll rely more on their wedges and putters — clubs that don't require much strength — to score. That's what teaching pros tell every male golfer, from mid-handicappers to retirees, but the message rarely gets through all those thick skulls.