There was an interesting footnote to the Kraft Nabisco Championship’s Tuesday announcement of its 2014 amateur invitees.
Much like The Masters on the men’s side, the LPGA’s first major pays heed to the amateur game by inviting up-and-comers to compete alongside the world’s top female professionals. Among those receiving and accepting invites to next month’s tournament at Mission Hills Country Club were Australian Minjee Lee, the world’s top-ranked amateur; No. 2-ranked Annie Park, the reigning NCAA women’s individual champion from USC; and Emma Talley, the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion.
The footnote? Stanford sophomore Mariah Stackhouse, the world’s 11th-ranked amateur, received an invitation but declined it, citing a conflict with a college tournament.
For those unfamiliar with her, Stackhouse shot 61 in a college event at Stanford Golf Course as a freshman in 2013, setting the NCAA women’s single-round scoring record. She is also African-American. And in a Global Golf Post profile published last May, her character drew compliments from no less a figure than Condoleezza Rice, noted golf enthusiast, Stanford professor and former Secretary of State.
In golf, it seems, we are constantly preoccupied with precocious accomplishments, whether they be teenager Lydia Ko’s professional victories, 20-year-old Jordan Spieth’s rocket-ship ride up the world ranking or 24-year-old Rory McIlroy’s two major titles. In this environment, it would seem to make perfect sense that Stackhouse seize the chance to make a splash on a prominent stage.
But while her elite amateur peers are making hay in the California desert, Stackhouse instead will opt to compete with her Cardinal teammates at the Ping/Arizona State Invitational in Tempe.
It’s fair to assume Stackhouse must have been flattered by the Kraft Nabisco invitation and no doubt tempted to accept. But by remaining loyal to her teammates and her school, Stackhouse showed maturity and self-confidence. Countering the “strike-while-the-iron-is-hot” mentality that’s become so prevalent among highly touted amateurs in recent years, Stackhouse’s decision essentially says: “I’m happy with my present and bullish enough about my future to recognize that this won’t be my only chance to make my mark in big-time golf.”
A refreshing outlook, I’d say.