Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Friday, July 8, 2011

Who is the best young American Golfer? That seems to be the topic of discussion every week now on the PGA Tour. Every talking head on TV seems to have an opinion as to why there are no dominant young American Golfers in the game today. The loss of Tiger as a major force in golf has left the media searching for an American player that can replace him. They simply cannot understand how or why the PGA Tour does not have a young dominant American Player.

Since the Tiger “Slam” crash in 2009 many players have been heralded with the title the next great American player. It first began with the veterans like Mickelson, Furyk and Toms but quickly shifted to the younger stars like Glover, Mahan and Johnson. Many others had the same label such as; Anthony Kim, JB Holmes, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler and most recently, Nick Watney.

So, why does America not have more young great players? With a population of 300 million people we should be overflowing with great talent. South Africa which has a population of 49 million has produced two major champions in the past year; Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. Northern Ireland which has a population of 4.5 million has also produced two major champions in the past year; Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy. So, why the lack of major wins for the young Americans? I have a theory about that down below. I do not think we lack talent or great players. I think we lack talented great players that can win at the highest level of the game, i.e. majors on a regular basis.

The media constantly reminds us that the United States is a great training ground for young golfers. Most great young amateur players have everything a player could want in order to have a successful career. They have great golf courses to play, world class instruction, state of the art equipment, fitness facilities, perfect weather and intense competition. In America, we have great junior, high school and college golf programs as well. I believe the one thing many great, young players lack is the intense drive to win. Allow me to explain. I believe that adversity and difficulty in life build character. This adversity and difficulty can drive a person to succeed. Without it you sometimes do not know have the burning desire to do whatever it takes to dominate. I am not saying that the young American players mentioned above do not have the killer instinct. Nor am I saying that the young foreign born players that have won major championships do. I do not know them personally so cannot say. I do believe that golfers that come from a wealthy background may lack the desire and drive to win. Who do you think has more motivation to dominate, Angel Cabrera who grew up in a house with a dirt floor? Or, a kid from a wealthy family who plays golf everyday year round and belongs to three different country clubs? So, if you are a great, young player that has everything you have ever wanted handed to you, then you may lack the killer instinct required to dominate. I have a second theory and will discuss it in another post and it has to do with the money in the game today.

I have been watching the new Feherty program on the Golf Channel and in his first episode he had Lee Trevino as his guest. David Feherty asked Lee Trevino who he looked up to as a young player. Trevino’s answer was “nobody” because they were so focused on existing from day to day they did not have that luxury. Do you think Trevino was motivated to succeed once given the opportunity?

Why do you think there are not more dominant, young, American golfers?

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