Have you ever reached a certain point your life where you reflect – but not necessarily dwell – on your accomplishments or lack thereof in your life. I have, and to be brutally honest I’ve done this all year since turning 50 in January. Much to the chagrin of my wife.
For example, let’s take little ride in the proverbial time machine back to when I was 12. The year is now 1984. Van Halen has released their album “1984”, I’m in Grade 7 (I think) and I’m now enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. My friend influenced me to join because of my fevered interest in the military. Bryan, would quit a week later. In school, I was an average student at best. If it wasn’t science, history, geography or physical education I was piss-poor in school. It was recommended that I should attend a vocational/remedial school. More of the same can be said when I was 15 but my grades seemingly improved, somewhat. That was it.
The LPGA and the CP Women’s Open made their respective triumphant returns to Canada this week. While this in itself is very newsworthy, lying in wait is a bigger story within the story. To say that the event this year has a youthful flair is like suggesting that chocolate milk comes from the cow already in its chocolaty form. Apologies to my daughter Tiffany whom I convinced as a six year old that this was a fact. Sorry Tiffy!
This week, the CP Women’s Open features no less than two teenagers and dare I say it one pre-teen. In the field are Anna Davis (the 16 year old Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion) and Monday Qualifiers Vanessa Zhang (15 of Vancouver, British Columbia and 12 year old Lucy Lin also from Vancouver.
Anna Davis’ story is well-documented. Earlier this year (the week before The Masters) a relative “unknown” (for the lack of a unexpectedly won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA). The bucket hat wearing teen from California bested a stacked and highly-talented field that visited Magnolia Lane. That field included the likes of Rose Zhang, Rachel Heck, and Emma Spitz to name a few. Ever since that victory, Davis’ world has been a whirlwind. She made her LPGA debut during April’s Palos Verdes Championship and has since played in an additional 5 LPGA events, including this weeks CP Women’s Open. Now in her junior year in high school, Anna is keeping her options open as far as attending university and playing for a golf program.
While many of the players in this weeks event were having a get together on Tuesday night, there was one lonely player out on one of the practice greens tirelessly working on her game. It was 15 year-old Monday Qualifier Vanessa Zhang. Zhang participated in the final qualifier held at The Marshes. You may not believe it but, trying to qualify was a spontaneous near “spur of the moment” decision. To say that her worth ethic isn’t lacking is like saying that William Shakespeare was mediocre at writing plays. Vanessa Zhang isn’t just a teenage golfing phenom as she’s also an excellent student. She attends school four days a week and is also on her school’s debate team. When talking to her, you get the sense that Vanessa is well-beyond her years. Well-spoken, cool, and poised she carries herself very well. Watching her work you can almost see the potential greatness that pours out of her. While Vanessa is not currently participating in any Golf Canada programs, she is attending the upcoming selection camp at TPC Toronto Osprey Valley. Also at 15, Vanessa has also committed to a college. Out of respect for Vanessa and her family I will not divulge which school.
Twelve. The number after eleven. That time in your life where you truly are, still a child. I mean, we’re all children but at 12 you’re not even a teenager. That is 12 year-old Monday Qualifier Lucy Lin who like Vanessa Zhang also qualified on Monday at The Marshes. Lucy Lin just started playing golf two and a half years ago. Just let that marinate in your mind for a second or two. Here she is, on the biggest stage that women’s golf has to offer in Canada. This young lady strikes the golf ball in a manner that would make any individual decades her senior blush with embarrassment. With her mother (Amanda) on her bag Lucy’s strategy is to focus on her own game and to just stay in the moment. Lucy’s accomplishment of teeing it up this week is even more impressive when you consider that she doesn’t really play much tournament golf, at all. On the eve of tournament I was standing by the short game area. As I gazed over to the practice range I noticed that there was one player on the range. I watched and out of idle curiosity I strolled, lumbering my way down to the far end of the range. It was Lucy working on her game. Putting in the time.
All of these young ladies have a lot in common. Not only are they hardworking individuals but they’re also all very good students. They all like to read to get away from the rigours of golf. For them you get a sense of reading being quasi-cathartic. How they carry themselves is that of tact and maturity but yet there’s still that young girl in how they giggle.
These kids aren’t just alright, they’re awesome. There is a definite youth movement in women’s golf. The game is growing and the health of the game is in very good shape. Especially Canadian golf.