One of the biggest (if not the biggest) events on the LPGA schedule is this week with the Solheim Cup. With that, golf writers are swooping over from the men’s game to drop some narratives in anticipation of the showdown between the U.S. and Europe. The discussion this week? Face paint, ribbons, and Instagram. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2015 Solheim Cup!
This rant is mainly stemming from this @PFTcommenter level take from Jaime Diaz this week regarding “Style over substance” when it comes to U.S. Women’s golf. I’ve always had respect for Jaime’s work, so to see this breaks my heart a little bit (especially after this Bubba fluff piece from August). It’s not only Diaz that is pumping out this narratiive this week, so apologies in advance for only focusing on his piece. But this graph burned my corneas:
“Among U.S. players — perhaps in self-defense — there’s an increasing drift toward style over substance. Instagram accounts, good looks and general buzz seem as important as performance, if not more so.”
Am I supposed to assume that there is some study done that analyzes the time it takes to snap a picture and post it to Instagram vs. the practice time that it cost the U.S. players (and only the U.S. players, apparently)? Inherently, that’s what you’re implying when you say “style over substance”: being stylish on social media means you aren’t practicing, and don’t care about the profession you’ve dedicated your life to. How is it that Lydia Ko (562 instagram posts) is able to balance her social media life with her practice schedule, but ONLY the U.S. players are the ones that are distracted by the new Instagram filters? Does Team Europe not get deep in the Insta game? Are we going to point to Sandra Gal’s 912 Instagram posts if she goes 0-2-1 this week? Is Team USA missing putts because they’re distracted by face paint? Or are we singling out the American players for the sake of a narrative?
The media loved to poke at Rickie Fowler’s “style over substance” like approach to his branding. You know what put that chatter to a stop? He started turning his top-5 finishes into wins. Was it because he put his cell phone away and stopped dressing more flamboyantly? Stopped going to football games and stayed home studying his yardage book? He’s living the exact same lifestyle he always has been, yet now he’s winning. I mean, a year ago, he shaved “USA” into the side of his head before the Ryder Cup. Where is the take that “style over substance” is why the U.S. men keep getting trounced?
So now the narrative shifts over to the women’s game, where writers can continue to dissect how the millennials are throwing their careers down the tube through the Kelvin filter.
“The U.S. pattern of becoming a star without commensurate results breeds entitlement and competitive softness. Inevitably, Americans women are getting outplayed by golfers who have placed substance over style, and simply want it more.”
The “want it more” narrative has infected every sport since quidditch, and is so prevalent in internet commenting that I’m hoping this line was directly lifted from a Solheim Cup message board (hey, that exists!). All professional athletes have lives away from their sport, which include but are not limited to: spouses, children, extended family, corporate commitments, travel, and oh yeah, an actual social life. Unless you can personally attest that a person’s social habits are affecting their professional performance (RIP Anthony Kim), don’t take the extremely lazy and curmudgeon way out and point and just assume that the U.S. women aren’t succeeding because they’re busy double tapping on an app.
The more I read those two sentences, the more in shock I am. Who on this U.S. team does not have commensurate (full disclosure, I had to look this word up) results? Lexi Thompson is a 20 year old major winner, and has six other wins to boot. Michelle Wie is a 25 year old major winner, with three other professional titles. Morgan Pressel is 27, has a major, and a two other LPGA titles. The only thing missing from their resume is they didn’t want it enough!
Without saying the word, Inkster wants her team to be all about substance. It is evident in her discouragement of attention-seeking “rah-rah stuff.”
This would be understandable and all if Inkster didn’t come up with perhaps the biggest attention-seeking rah-rah stunt in the history of the Solheim Cup (just going to assume this is true).
Inkster has said for 2 years that the Americans were going take their lunch boxes and go to work. She wasn't kidding! pic.twitter.com/oNWs2WYvlK
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) September 16, 2015
There’s nothing like “just focusing on work” like a big gimmick to announce that Team USA is at work.
Let the girls be. They’re professionals. They know how to handle themselves like professionals. Go Team USA.
(cover photo courtesy of Golfweek)