In spectacular fashion, a sporting event on television unintentionally encapsulated one of the most critical issues of our day. The United States Women’s Open, held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, provided the palette, and Yuka Saso and other women golfers provided the brush strokes. It turned into a work of art. For those of you who missed it, the stars were Yuka herself, 19, half Japanese and half Filipino, tied for the youngest winner of the hardest major in women’s golf. She defeated Nasa Hataoka, a star Japanese player, the ever-popular Shanshan Feng from China (who never stops smiling), Meghan Khang, an American whose parents emigrated after the Vietnam War, and Megha Ganne, a teenage American amateur from New Jersey whose parents came here from India. They were all after Lexi Thompson, a veteran professional golfer from Florida, whose brothers are both professional golfers, who began the final day with a five-shot lead after nine holes of eighteen and was considered impossible to beat.
If Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity is your stated goal, DIE for short, the United States Women’s Open provided Diversity and Inclusion in spades. There is no such thing as Equity in golf or any other arena of American life. Our Constitutional system provides equality of process but not equality of outcome.
Here is what happened. Yuka began her final day with two double-bogeys and was considered finished before she really began. It is impossible to understand the pressure of a golf tournament this big, with international attention and worldwide television, much less the expectations placed on these women by their home countries, the cultural norms of Americans around golf, the crush of fans and reporters, the unthinkable reward for winning, and the difficulty and poise required to select a club and make a swing. Many of them are just teenagers with acne, pitched voices, and giggles. Lexi knows the ropes. She was only 12 when she qualified for a US Women’s Open and was the youngest, at 16, to win an LPGA event. Lexi has coaches and sponsors. Lexi has the exact right clothes with gloves, and shoes, and visors matching perfectly. Lexi is 6 ft tall and drives the ball considerably farther than the other women playing. She is the quintessential American woman athlete. She is healthy, she is strong, she is good-looking, and she has a supportive golfing family. She has a wonderful and intelligent caddy, she has prepared in every way possible, and has conquered the mental part of the sport that alludes all but the very best. Pressure, she has learned, can be turned into motivation if you know how to handle it. Mistakes are to be immediately forgotten – stay positive, stay smiling, create an atmosphere where the crowd is behind you, and pressuring those desperate to catch up in such a way they can barely breathe. Stay hydrated. Take deep breaths.
This is a microcosm of America itself. Americans are relatively healthy. Americans are individuals who compete fiercely and (hopefully) fairly without the slightest concern for the “politically correct” (if there is such a thing) in sports. The victory is individual in golf, except for the rare team play, and excellence in America is individual, as well. If you come to America this is the atmosphere you face. Nothing is handed to you. Nothing is supposed to be handed to you but opportunity itself.
Miss Constitution has noticed that most of the South Korean women professional golfers, who dominate the LPGA today, have mastered the mental part of golf. They seem to have been taught by their unique society to remain pleasant, calm, and focused without the slightest hint of aggravation or a sense of unfairness or panic. They win, consequently, much of the time. They are gracious winners without bragging and are grateful and humble. Inbee Park exemplifies the purity of attitude and the understanding of opportunity that all the South Korean players feel. English is a hard language for them and many struggle with it. Before they reach the professional level some come to America with their Mothers who devote their all to them. They have to learn to come out of their shyness to play in Pro-Ams with men who think they can overpower them and who want a few golf tips. Nodding and “thank you” are all they can come up with at first. It is often painful to learn “the American way.” But here we are at the 2021 Women’s Open on an impossibly hard course, never played by the women before. The large gallery is polite but waiting for a melt-down. Golf at this level is NASCAR. Mel Reid, from Great Britain, was leading comfortably until the pressure increased each of the four days and she spun out of control. Megha Ganne, the teenage amateur wonder from New Jersey was suddenly in second place after three days, and the tension became unbearable. Yuka Saso in the lead? From where? Her only support system a few fellow countrymen from up the highway at Dale City, her clothes ordinary and not quite fitting, her teenage shoulders slumped to hide her insecurity, the weight of the world on her shoulders – this is how the final day of the US Women’s Open began. Yuka melted, hit the wall, as all expected. Lexi Thompson, the all-American superstar, prepared to clean up the mess and race, without so much as a bead of sweat, to the finish line.
What our Founders knew, that we seem to be abandoning, is that individual human beings can often rise to insane levels of achievement if left alone to figure it out and dig deep into themselves for the treasure that is there. The treasure is different for each person. If society imposes an outcome (equity) that treasure can never be found. This is the gift of Liberty that our Constitution represents. The development of the person within the Rules of Law. America is now, after years of struggle and pain, inclusive and diverse. Processes are relatively equal. The table has been set by the Founders – you now have to play the game. Golf rules are strict and hard. There is no forgiveness or leniency because you come from a different country and don’t understand English. There is no forgiveness or leniency because you struggled in America to make your way. Play the game. Be grateful for such a beautiful venue. Dig deep and find yourself and then give back when you do. This is the Moral Law we have been called upon to follow by the Constitution of the United States. Within the rules, with humility and gratefulness, you still – individually – have to play the game.
Lexi was all smiles beginning the final nine holes. The gallery had seen enough wrecks and was enthusiastic about an American finally winning a major. Have Americans still “got it”? Lexi’s impossibly long shots, in the fairway, suddenly took an odd hop into the second cut of grass. Dig it out. Okay. Then a chip shot inexplicably over the green to the other side. Embarrassing. No problem. A missed putt. A very short missed putt. We are now trying to steer putts into the hole. Panic. Meltdown. Yuka, on the other hand, was comforted by her American caddy. The pressure hit early, blew her back, but she was encouraged to let it go and move on. And move on she did. All the way up, all the way past Lexi, only Nasa Hataoka in her way. A ten-foot putt confidently in the middle of the hole. A playoff. A win. Television commentators descended upon her. How did she do it? Then tears. Nothing but tears. The tears anyone who has come to America with big dreams and big hopes has at the end. Man or woman. Tears. The only nation in the world that still lets the individual go through the process required to find greatness within the Rules and within one’s deepest place. Yuka Saso is nineteen years old.
A critical issue of the day. We are in the midst of a political movement to end the American Constitutional system that protects the Liberty of the Person and gives the Yuka Sasos the opportunity to measure themselves. Instead of equal opportunity, political powers now want equal outcomes. Instead of a blank palette, there is a finished picture. No one wins and no one loses. No one is required to dig deep and no one is required to give back. Sadly, then, there will be no tears, either. Those who have experienced this phenomenon, cannot believe that the American people are destroying the very system that honored their struggle. Why? That will be the question every future child asks.