Richard Kaufman hits out at Hank Haney for disrespecting women's golf
Last Updated: 05/06/19 1:37pm
Tiger Woods' former coach, Hank Haney, attracted criticism for his comments on ladies' golf which many claimed were both sexist and racist, and Richard Kaufman found his opinions disrespectful to the women's game ....
When one of my broadcast colleagues at the Golf Channel, Jerry Foltz, put out a tweet last week about Hank Haney, I couldn't believe what I was reading.
By now, most would have read what Haney said on his radio show. Haney either feigned or didn't know the US Women's Open was taking place that week. He then said a Korean would win, narrowing it down to a Lee. He added that he couldn't name six LPGA players, before naming Michelle Wie.
A number of times, I went to tweet something referencing Haney late Sunday night after watching Jeong Eun Lee6 win in Charleston but without an elongated thread, didn't feel I could do it justice.
I love my job but ultimately, any of us are just a sentence away from the sack. No one wants to see anyone lose their job. But I have got so riled seeing some of the responses, especially when people have the opinion that the furore is just another example of political correctness.
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As a broadcaster in golf, we should aim to inform and entertain. But with that comes a certain amount of responsibility. In the last few weeks, Danny Baker and George Galloway have been reprimanded for postings on social media. Haney, to remind you, was a broadcaster on air.
My thoughts on what Haney actually said? I found them disparaging and disrespectful to the women's game. Casual racism and sexism in less than a minute. This is a golf coach whose main claim to fame is coaching one of the greatest golfers of all time, whose mother is Thai.
He doesn't know six LPGA Tour players? He has coached some of them over the years. He is broadcasting a golf programme the week of the US Women's Open and is suggesting he didn't know that tournament was taking place. Playing for laughs or just not doing his job properly?
To make matters worse, he has followed up on Twitter, post tournament by sounding in some way vindicated because someone called Lee won. And if he wanted to add fuel to his fire, on the Symetra Tour, Min Lee (Chinese Tapei) beat Esther Lee (USA) in a play off. Brilliant!
But this does not vindicate Haney's comments. I assume he was trying to be funny with his Lee remark. Lee just happens to be the most common surname in the world, so the law of probability comes into play. But if look a little closer., these are not faceless golfers.
Oh, they are Korean - all the same aren't they? What century are you from? So Minjee Lee, the Australian who is close to becoming world No 1, stands as good a chance of winning a major as Andrea Lee, the amateur who had just won the NCAAs with Duke? You could argue your point or give an opinion or basically do what Haney did which is bade it on her surname.
Just watch the elegance and vibrance of So Yeon Ryu and compare her to the focus and power of Sung Hyun Park. Just look at the all-dancing Ha Na Jang and compare her to the putting machine that has been Inbee Park. Compare and contrast.
Take the US Open champion herself. Jeong Eun Lee6 is the daughter of a former truck driver, Jung Ho, who was paralysed after a motorway accident when she was just four years old. She didn't play golf properly until she was 16, and when she realised she was good enough to be a pro, she said her sole goal was to win tournaments to help her family.
The first player to break the scoring average of 70 twice on the Korean LPGA, she is competing in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour and has yet to finish worse than 26th. This is not just another golfer called Lee. She has embraced her "Six" nickname, and is a fantastic golfer with a back story and a personality to match. And she's now a major champion.
I found Haney's comments disparaging and disrespectful to the women's game. Casual racism and sexism in less than a minute.
The ladies' game is full of incredible stories. In my latest the Round Golf Podcast series, I have interviewed Lizette Salas and Cristie Kerr. Both talk of how they have dealt with taunts and abuse, either about their race or gender or their looks or nationality and both have gone on to be standout players for the USA Solheim Cup team. Stories to provoke and golf of the highest order.
The only positive I can take is that while others might disagree, I think controversy of any kind can be good for a sport. In a perverse way, Haney's remarks made more people aware the US Women's Open was taking place than would otherwise be the case.
Maybe more tuned into Sky Sports Main Event on Sunday night as a result and will watch in the future?