Lydia Ko is a star amateur female golfer who, based on the World Amateur Golf Ranking’s, is way ahead of her competition. Lydia is a two time winner on the LPGA Tour and youngest winner in LPGA history. But, due to her “amateur” status is not allowed to make a single dollar of the tournament winnings. In total she has lost out on approximately $1,000,000 total in winnings. Her recent win at the Canadian Women’s Open had the $300,000 prize go to the runner-up, Karine Icher.
This brings up the topic of my blog: is it fair for talented amateur’s to have their professional status and winnings withheld?
Normally I would yes due to the fact that they are indeed just that, amateurs. In the majority of sports -NCAA basketball, and football in particular for their popularity – the amateur athletes are not to receive any compensation. The reason that I see golf being a different case is: why do you allow them to compete with the professionals? NCAA athletes do not compete with NFL or NBA players, so why would you allow amateur golfers to play on the same stage and against the pro’s, yet forfeit their winnings because of an age requirement?
While I understand that they have made a few exceptions like Michelle Wie and granted professional status early so it is not impossible, I feel the current policy or situation needs to be revised. At the same time, it is a tricky issue because there are some things to consider besides what has been covered. Firstly, it being very difficult to leave professional sport entry open to any age. Secondly, since unlike football and hockey there is no contact, the age difference is not as big of a deal.
After these considerations I believe that if an amateur is talented enough to qualify for the professional tour and proves they possess the skill necessary to compete, the age requirement should be dropped to 16. While it is a tough call to make, as long as amateurs are allowed to compete in the LPGA Tour, they should not be penalized in the form of status and losing winnings. If there are no school requirements or years of experience required to compete with the professionals –again, like the NFL and NBA regulations – though I can see both sides of the argument, I find myself unable to agree with the current policy. If you are competing against professionals and especially winning, does that not make you a professional?