Sexual Harassment By A Teaching Pro

Posted by: mike November 11th, 2017

By Ted Johnson


Lewine Mair in a recent Global Golf Post wrote about today’s political correctness and how it has led to a hyper-awareness of sexual harassment. Indeed, the issue has been in the news quite a bit lately. According to European teaching pro Ron Cowan, who was quoted in Mair’s article, he fears that sometime in the future a female student could come back and say he “touched her hips inappropriately, or something like that.” That’s why he doesn’t book female students.

C’mon. Get a grip. The golf industry has a much bigger issues in the domain of sexual harassment than what happens with a teaching pro out on the practice range with a student.

First and foremost, what’s been reported in the news of late doesn’t really refer to Cowen’s line of work. The only thing that comes close is the famous “Access Hollywood” confession in which a presidential candidate is heard saying when you’re powerful you can walk right up to women and grab them by the ______.

What’s Cowen going to do, teach her a poor swing if she doesn’t let him touch her?

I imagine that touching the bodies of students to show where the club has to be in the golf swing does indeed lead to accidental inadvertent contact. I’m sure it happens to tennis coaches and doctors and therapists, too, and it doesn’t seem to hinder their practices.

Some people are evil or sick, and some are doctors, therapists, dentists, coaches and now Senate candidates. They take advantage of women, underage children and the vulnerable. That’s history, but when it comes to sexual harassment in this country today as A BIG ISSUE, all we have to say is “PennState,” or “U.S. Women’s Gymnastics” or “Harvey Weinstein” and we’re in agreement about what we’re talking about.

What’s being ignored in Mair’s article is the underlying issue of power. Whether it is an actress being intimidated into doing something in Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room, or a college intern having drinks with her potential boss late into the night, the interaction operates on one dynamic: A powerful person has leverage on the life of a subordinate.

Yes, there have been cases in which golf pros indeed have relations with students. I just played in a benefit golf tournament with a couple who met by him giving her lessons. It happens. The sly “teaching pro” who has his way with the wives of the country club while the husbands are on the course or court is an over-worn porn cliché.Golf lesson

Bigger Picture

Golf as an industry and those who play it have to look at the bigger picture – like why less than 15 percent of golfers are women. And why does that number dip into single digits when you count the percentage of women who play regularly? 

More than a few women 15 years ago told me they felt uncomfortable walking into a golf shop to either ask for help, lessons or to play. Too often those behind the counter made them feel either uneasy or unwanted. The golf industry seems aware and is trying to change.

Cowen’s point, ironically, underscores the fact there are so few female golf teachers. Right there is the solution to the issue, so it has to be asked: What are golf management companies doing to promote female empowerment? Though their numbers are growing, the number of female head professionals in this country is pitifully low.

And to the men reading this: When you’re on the first tee and you discover the fourth player is a “new golfer” who happens to be female, do you think Disaster?

Women constitute 51 percent of the population in this country, and getting more of them into golf will help the game survive financially but also give women a secure place to have fun without feeling they have to do something “inappropriate” to get what they want or expect. Besides, with more women in the game there will be more hugs – and that’s appropriate any time.