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« Suzann Should Sleep In More Often | Main | "Golf's been very good to me. It's the least I could do. There was karma for me in this." »

"I believe golf is designed to price black people out"

Adena Andrews at ESPNW has the story of the Jackson sisters, labeled the "Venus and Serena" of golf because of their success at just 12 and 14 years old. And, perhaps because dad displays some of the same wonderful traits as Richard Williams.

In discussing the $40,000 a year Eric Jackson says his daughters' golf career costs, including the $1000 he recently spent on a club for one of his daughters (is there a $1000 club in golf, or a $1000 junior set?), he says…

In the winter months, they use an $11,000 golf simulator in the basement that the girls are rapidly outgrowing. Between practice, tournament fees, traveling, lodging, coaching and equipment, the family spends about $40,000 a year for the girls to compete.

"This is an expensive sport, and the better you get, the more expensive it becomes. The last club I bought Erica cost $1,000," Eric said. "I believe golf is designed to price black people out, and if these girls don't get the financial backing they need, it could be the end of them competing."

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but oftentimes golf prices just about everyone out. Especially at the prices quoted in this story.

More important, as for the girls, Myah and Erica, they sound delightful.

Erica hopes to attend Howard University, and Myah wants to study veterinary science at Georgetown or Cornell.

"I wouldn't quit golf until I didn't need it anymore. It's a tool to help me get where I want to go in life," said Erica, who wants to coach someday.

Although golf has become the family business, with the girls missing as many as 20 days of school a year for tournaments, they maintain 3.4 grade-point averages.

They also have interests in addition to golf. They volunteer at church and sing in the choir. They also enjoy taekwondo; each is a second-degree black belt.

"Burnout will not be an issue for my girls," Eric said "We don't even watch golf in my house. They probably couldn't tell you what is happening in the golf world right now."

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Reader Comments (49)

Golf is a tough row to hoe both financially and talent wise, black or white.
The programs like "First Tee" and others, I think, do help. But it is not a very good investment of time and money if the end goal is to profit financially.
But, $1000.00 for a golf club?
Help is needed for sure.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
Golf is designed to price out most people. Given that minorities on average have lower incomes and less wealth, it will especially price them out. The question is, is this a good thing? or should something be changed to open the game up more
07.6.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
The burns!
07.6.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
Of course there are 1000 dollar drivers...499 to 399 per new driver head w stock shaft + 500 shaft...simple math and yes I agree he it is overpriced for most....

Those of you that deny this is moreso for the minorities are practicing the new form of racism// which basically amounts to pretending it doesnt exist....

Good luck to them and I hope we get them on tour someday!
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEl Chivo
I'm thinking that if anybody were really serious about a $1000 golf club, it is probably a Circle-T Scotty Cameron. Which is a bit of vanity, as much as anything.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
The dad must have gone back in time to the late 90's and bought that $1000 driver made by Ram. Not a big seller.

Otherwise, unless they decided (unnecessarily) to go for a high end custom fitting at a place like Cool Clubs or HotStix, or buy something from Honma, t is almost impossible to believe he spent $1,000 on a single club.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin part deux
Seve learned to play with one club on a beach ... and a freakin' 3 Iron at that.

$1000 for a club you hit at best 14 times a round and it better do my taxes, mow the lawn and bring me an ice cold beer at the end of a long hard day.

Basement simulators? Jeebus. Kids these days are gonna be able to do one thing really well - repeat the same swing over and over off of perfect flat lies with no wind. That's awesome for the 18 tee shots on a calm day. Good luck with evrything else.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterWillie Loman
One more thing...

The conjoining of "golf" with a reference to "pricing people out" is an inherently loaded notion.

I dare say, that there are travel hockey teams, and youth ski teams, and radio-controlled model airplane clubs that are just as likely to "price people out." But hockey, skiing and model airplanes are wholesome endeavors with no attachment to private clubs, claims of racism, class warfare, etc.

As long as we're talking Venus and Serena; is it not standard nowadays for talented youngsters to be whisked off to a Nick Bolletieri school. Where the costs are a lot more than 40k/year?

I agree with Geoff, by the way; these girls sound delightful and no sane person could do anything but wish them the best. The "pricing black people out" comment is such a blight on a charming story.

"Golf" is always the all-purpose whipping boy for social scolds.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
The dad is the one who chooses to spend that much money. No one to blame but himself for going overboard. They absolutely dont have to spend such high dollars for simulators, tournaments, etc. Hopefully they remain lifelong golfers well after college no matter the level cause the game needs young people to stick with it.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterArdmoreari
Funny, i didn't know that golf costs were assesed on a curve depending on the amount of melatonin that you have.... Best wishes for thier continued success.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterForeright!
I will buy the girls each a tennis racket if they quit golf
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Spachler
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no Vet School at Georgetown, University or College, so far as I know. Cornell is a good choice though. But last I checked they were really pricing out-of-state residents out of the market. The school in Urbana is probably a better choice for a Chicago resident, seeing as how they are pricing Illinois residents in as much as Cornell is pricing them out...just a thought, Myah and Eric. As for golf being a tool to help you get where you want to go in life, Erica, it can indeed be that, depending on your destination. In the mean time, play hard, girls. It is a great game for a lifetime.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Tiger Woods is 4 shots below the number, where he is also getting waxed by the Golf Professional Emeritus, and JB Holmes is only one shot off the lead after returning from brain surgery. Hmm...what leads at this very moment? "Near the number...Play has finally resumed at The Greenbrier; Can Tiger Woods make the cut (we know Phil is already on his way back home)?" I made that last part up. Anyway, someone deserves an appearance money refund.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
I just sold a Scotty Cameron Oil Can Circle T tour putter to a Canadian for $2150.00 US...Is he a minority because he's Canadian?
What exactly is a minority these days? Anyone who isn't white? I don't think so. These race card players are losing credibilty daily.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
"someone deserves an appearance money refund. " A million here...a million problem...just send it to the Foundation...who cares if you make the cut?...we just love having you on the grounds to mingle with our people...we love you makes us feel important and now our members and guests can say..."hey, Tiger was here...right here on this tee box..he hawked a loogie right here...and gosh, golly, wow, Phil was here too"
07.6.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
And where are Phil and Tiger heading? Home for the weekend or straight to the British Isles?
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt H
I wish these two young women the very best, and I wish the dad a good dose of reality.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
The girls are great. Dad's a goober. Mom has the smart genes.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Blabbie
Not by design Eric, if that were the case not many of us would be playing the game. The cost of modern equipment is prohibitive to most middle class families. It's not a black thing we're all getting ripped off to the point of not being able to play.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim D
Earth to Jim D,

You dont need to spend big bucks on modern equipment to either play or enjoy the game. I just played a very affordable and enjoyabe round in Denver at Common Ground with their 4 year old Wilson rental set that is lent out for free!
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterArdmoreari
More tips to reducing the cost of golf:
Wear sneakers versus buying golf shoes so no need to replace soft spikes too
Use found tees and balls
Walk versus ride
Bring your own snacks in your bag and a water bottle to refill for free
Use eBay for buying last years equipment at large discounts
Play twilight golf for a fraction of primetime weekend rates

I just don't buy that golf prices anyone out... what a farce!
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterArdmoreari
"Willie" beat me to it...Seve and his hand me down 3 iron on the beach.

Let's talk about the obstacles Peete, Elder, Sifford, Dent, Charlie Owens, the Thorpe brothers, etc., overcame compared to Eric's children and their $11K simulator.
I once approached a frozen seab, jumped in and was appalled by its audacity to subject me to frigidity!
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPolar bear
You want to know why 14 year olds are now qualifying for opens, it's bc we're a sick society and our kids have indoor simulators.

One issue is that in order to get a golf scholarship (or recruited) you have to play the AJGA circuit which is rather expensive

(oh and to digress you don't go to vet school in college, you have to get a B.S. first)
07.6.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf

Are you sure you meant melatonin? Did you mean melanin?
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJT

You don't "have to" but it certainly helps to play AJGA events especially with the top programs in mostly D1 and probably some elite D2's. In D3 the money given out is supposed to be for academics but the schools in D3 police themselves so one can assume there is some room to play with the numbers at the top D3 schools.
07.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterArdmoreari
Dad should have bought a net for the basement and put the rest towards jr membership(s) green fees or one ever said golf was inexpensive, but there are some common sense alternatives out there that have been around forever which are today considered "passe" by most well meaning parents IMO.

@Willie L: Great comment about these girls mastering perfect flat lie w/ no wind brainless swings....which is why I would've invested the money towards more time on the course vs being in a basement hitting balls according to how a computer is telling you how you're hitting it...this just appears misguided to me....but the girls do appear to be I wish em all the best and hope they follow through with their dreams/goals.
07.7.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Good luck to the girls. Hope they manage to retain their interest in the game through those teenage years ... in spite of their father!

Not sure why he needs to buy expensive equipment though. Perhaps it's just a way of showing he doesn't want those nasty rich white people to think they're just dirt poor black people.

You should have seen the clubs I started with. Two of 'em had (slightly bent) hickory shafts!
Cobra recently introduced their Ferrari line of clubs, etc. The driver is $2000
07.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteven T.
Credibility is designed to price out the absurd. This jackass Dad should take heed before his gibberish is as inaudible as a dog whistle.
07.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce
The great ones can make it with a year old used driver for 20 bucks.........if they have talent, and drive, they will be fine........
The two case studies where fortunes were spent to manufacture swings are Charles Howell and Casey Wittenburg.

In addition to Seve, Cabrerra and Harrington spent next to nothing and they also have FIVE majors between them.
07.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
Golf is designed to price Ukrainians out of the game. Blacks and others just get caught in the same net.
i just bought my new girl a club for $.50. She thinks she's black. I know I know, it was a choice.
07.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGhost Golfer
@Tiger's Bald Spot That was funny.
07.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce
"If these girls don't get the financial backing they need, it could be the end of them competing."

They're 12 and 14. What in the hell is this dad talking about.
07.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCOB
Easy now. Just because this Eric Jackson guy is selling a reporter a load of crap in order to attract sympathy interest for his girls, doesn't mean competitive golf isn't financially and geographically situated in a manner that INADVERTENTLY excludes people of color, especially in urban areas. I've heard the same argument, albeit made far more salient, by many - and not just a few volunteers of First Tee chapters. It isn't conspiratorial. It just is. Folks will find a way. No one in the black community is waking up each morning wondering where their golf is going to come from. 13% unemployment while the rest of the nation is at less than 8%, however...

The thing I don't appreciate is this guy's idea that the game would somehow be less exclusive to blacks if only HIS daughters would be able to get that next simulator upgrade. That's the ultimate line of b.s. "Give my kids free lessons and a country club membership so the golf world will be less exclusive." Now THAT'S the same ol' whine from the same tired carafe.
07.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDG
This guy is a Knucklehead! You don't need $1000 clubs, an $11,000 in-home simulator, or to travel and stay in hotels to become a great golfer. All you need a about 5 clubs and a driving range membership. Seve Ballesteros use to wack a ball around on the beach with one club as a child.

I'd gladly sell my whole set to him for $14,000 if he's interested.
07.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAJ
Dear Clueless Father: Your daughters have aspirations of a career outside of golf? A parent with common sense would invest $20k per year per child into an investment account and thereby in ten years you should have enough to pay for the majority of their advanced degrees.

My wife and I have college degrees and both work full time jobs and yet we enjoy golf on a limited basis because our priorities are that of retirement and what we face in regards to healthcare costs. To put into simple terms, START SAVING FOR THE RAINY DAYS.
07.7.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdubld
So all white people can afford to spend $40K a year on golf? I've been playing golf for 12 years and I use clubs that cost under $1000 (for the entire set). Maybe more white people can afford to play golf. But that could be because they invest their money in an education rather than a pipe dream of making it big on tour. This guy is just a racist bigot that wants to blame the "white man" for his bad financial decisions. With scholarships for minorities only and reverse description, who is really getting the shaft here?
07.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilson42

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