Avoiding The Parent Trap

Inbee Park’s comments after her win in the Kraft Nabisco have added to the impression that there are parents of LPGA players who are learning as fast as any of their offspring. In the parents’ case, it is a matter of learning to take a step back. When Park was in the lead, her father packed his bag and made hurried arrangements to fly from Korea to Palm Springs for the final round. At which point his daughter advised that the journey was not a good idea. “I really stopped him because if he came, I would want to win so bad it would be on my mind,” she explained. Upset though he was, Mr. Park took heed. It was Se Ri Pak’s father who served as a model for the “golf daddies,” as the Korean players cheerfully dub their ambitious fathers. In the 1980s, Pak would put his daughter through a daily training regimen that included running forwards and backwards up and down the 15 lights of stairs of the family’s apartment block. Then, when it came to Se Ri’s golf, he would think nothing of keeping her out on the range in temperatures so cold that her hair would become plaited with icicles. In 1998, to no one’s great surprise, there came a day when the then 20yearold Se Ri had to be packed off to a hospital with exhaustion. Though Se Ri will tell you that all that paternal pushing was just about worth it for the sake of the five majors she has under her belt, she still feels duty-bound to proffer advice to the next generation. At Carnoustie in 2011, she spoke of how, after long years of adhering to the Korean way of playing and practising, she was finally mastering the art of relaxation. “Now,” she said, “I will sometimes have a beer instead of a coffee after my dinner. I have learned to socialise a bit more. It was difficult to learn but I’m getting there.” She told her sister Koreans to follow her example: “They work so hard, 24/7 each day, every single second, every moment – and they never have any relax or light time. So now I tell them, ‘If you are 100 percent focused on your golf, make sure that you are 100 percent focused on being relaxed when you are not on the course. That way, you will play better.”


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