While prodigies prosper, my golf game gets ghastly: The simultaneously inspiring yet discouraging story of Latanna Stone

“My son is better at this than I’ve ever been at anything in my life. He’s better at this than you’ll ever be, at anything. My son has a gift. He has a gift, and when you acknowledge that, then maybe we will have something to talk about.”

–          Joe Mantegna, Searching for Bobby Fischer

“Ten years!”

–          Jeremy Piven, Grosse Pointe Blank

Man, this sucks.

I don’t get it.  I sweat, and toil, and drink, and sweat, and toil, and drink some more.  I chip.  I putt.  Sure, not as much as I should, but the bottom line is, I can’t crack mid-80s in my golf game even if the planets were perfectly aligned and my soon-to-be-lake-dwelling Callaways had pin-seeking, GPS devices planted within them.

So when I hear stories like the one below, I don’t know whether to be encouraged or to give the game up altogether.

I was sitting peacefully on my couch the other evening, watching my usual slate of ESPN programming, when I found out that Latanna Stone, a 10-year old girl from Brandon, Florida, that’s right, a 10-YEAR OLD GIRL, who lives only a golf course distance away from my home, had just qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

She shot a 70.

I’ve shot 70 before… after completing 13 holes.  Sometimes after 15 if I’m hitting them straight.

I don’t take my golf game too seriously.  I mean, why would I?  I’m out there mostly for the sun, the fun and the camaraderie.  But ten?  TEN?!?  It’s enough to make me question why I’m even out there in the first place, or at least inspire me to leave my clubs in the trunk of my car where they probably belong.  It takes a strong man to opt for self-reflection and cheap greens fees.

I didn’t even know what golf WAS when I was ten years old, never mind a green-in-regulation.  I do now after playing the sport casually for nearly twenty years, which is incidentally twice Latanna’s age.  Ugh, don’t remind me.

She can’t drive.  She can’t drink.  She can’t drink and drive.  Suddenly, I need a drink… and some golf lessons.  I can’t even concentrate right now I’m so upset.  Have I mentioned this young lady shot a 70?  I may NEVER shoot a 70… or even 80 for that matter.

I guess it’s time for me to accept my mediocrity in a game that, to Latanna, comes so naturally.

Does Stone’s success suddenly create a spike in weekend warriors across America or do golfers everywhere, still struggling to lower their handicap, hang up their spikes once and for all?   One thing’s for certain.  As her celebrity grows, she’ll have a fan base of middle-aged men coming to greet her, awkwardly standing in awe, asking for her autograph, as she reminds them of their own mortality.

All we can do as sports fans is wish Latanna the best, whether or not golf is the path in life she chooses.  I’m not resentful, I’m just average.  And that’s okay.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the driving range is calling.

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45 Replies to “While prodigies prosper, my golf game gets ghastly: The simultaneously inspiring yet discouraging story of Latanna Stone”

  1. Pingback: While prodigies prosper, my golf game gets ghastly: The simultaneously inspiring yet discouraging story of Latanna Stone - BallHyped, Golf | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. thanks for sharing that as I warm up for my now-down-to-once-a-year-round, in which i may hit six or seven “good” shots, three putt my way to getting any kind of feel for the putter, and try to break 100. I actually shot 75 in high school, and played on our golf team, but without the regular practice, you know, it’s almost no fun to play so poorly now, knowing what was. But I see it as a test of character at this point, and try to enjoy the time with my dad, who’s also very competetive and shoots low 80s to high 70s (at age 74), making it part of the challenge.
    Maybe she’ll do for women’s youth golf what Tiger’s career game did for the boys.

  3. Okay… One free lesson comin’ up! (this from a two-time champion of the PPGA’s annual tournament in California [how’s that for creditials?])

    I’m assuming you know your clubs and your capabilities with each… With the correct club in your hand for the upcoming shot… Take a nervous practice swing visualizing where the ball will be once your shot has been taken… Get over the ball, staring intently at the ball… Now here’s the key- consciously allow your shoulders to droop this one act releases tension. Keep your head down, draw the club back and take your free and easy swing… with a complete follow through… You may have to ask your playing companions where the ball went since you kept your head down… Don’t be surprised when they ask “Where’d that come from?”

  4. Billy B shot a 75 in high school and wasn’t recruited by North Carolina blue?!?

    Or did you get a letter of intent from them and they just didn’t care for the fact that it was returned somewhat stained with your excitement?

  5. Peaking too early, Chap? Sounds like she hit a deep hook down the fairway from out of the womb.

    Perhaps there’s such a thing a peaking too LATE. So I got that going for me… which is nice.

  6. Not so long ago it was Michelle Wie . Now it’s Latanna Stone . Wie is pulling down $15 million a year and she’s yet to win a tournament of any standing . I hear Ty Tryon will actually play and work for food ?

    So Mitt Romney parks his a#s in my home country and he then becomes a critic as how to organize the Olympics . His as#s had to brought in , after a bunch of fu#king idiots in Utah fuc#ed over the citizens in the state , in the run-up to the 2002 Winter Olympics . Romney trying to be statesman like , is akin to Clay Aiken saying ” no ” to caressing a ##ck before sexually gratifying himself and then before inserting it into his mouth . Neither premise is liable to happen .

    Aiken likes $$$s and Romney being statesman-like ….. well let’s just say Bashir al Assad now comes off looking like saint in light of the atrocities his armed forces are now committing in Syria in order to save the leader’s a#s in the Middle Eastern country .

    Let me know what you think about the following ?

    Chalk one up for the Big Boys … Though Not Necessarily The Good Guys …..

    Headin’ out of town for a few days ….. as in Haiti . I hope to return by late Sunday or Monday at the latest . Hold down the fort , brother and stay safe .

    tophatal …………..

  7. For your sake, someone should remind this little show off that the word golf is an acronym.

    …Okay so that’s just an urban legend but I’m guessing at her age she’s gullable enough to believe it.

  8. Al…

    I don’t know enough about Stone to say whether she’ll be any kind of phenom. All I do know is that a ten year old shooting a 70 both inspired me and pissed me the hell off, considering I shot a 95 today.

    I’m not going to get all that involved in politics this election. I know which way I’m voting and I know who’s going to win so the rest of it is just pointless.

    Safe travels to the island, brother. Gonna hit the DR side while you’re there?

  9. Chris

    If a ten year old is shooting 70 on PGA regulated golf course and it makes an adults’ game look ridiculous . Then it’s time took for another recreational activity that you think you can excel in .

    My friends’ kids and I , when they ask if I want to play certain video games I bluntly say ……. no ! If they excel in a certain sporting endeavor and they’re looking for me to provide them with a physical challenge then I’m gonna cheat ……….’cause I don’t want to embarrassed by angelic 10 or 14 your old in-front of my peers . LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    Mitt I can live with , or without ! But hell , don’t come to a country (UK) and then embarrass yourself with your ignorance and then try and say your words were misconstrued . He comes out and makes what he believes is an innocuous statement while at the same insulting the British people and the host dignitary which just happens to be the British Prime Minister David Cameron . Romney is a ticking time bomb and a dumb a#s !

    Off course I’ll hit the DR ! Ain’t that where all the action is , and all the hot chics are ?

    While down in Haiti , I’ll raise a glass in your honor ! Pass the Courvoisier or Patron as the case maybe .

    coming off their dominant performances having won the World Cup and European title in soccer . Well , in their first match of the Olympic Games in Group play ………… they lose 1-0 to Japan .

    Team USA Basketball

    tophatal ………………..

  10. Is there a remote possibility that Selig will pull his finger out of his a#s and do something about the Marlins ? How the hell can he allow team owner Jeffrey Loria to gut that team again , while making millions ? Never mind the ongoing Justice Department investigation of the city of Miami as to how the financing was raised for the Marlins’ Ballpark .

    If the Marlins were a publicly listed company there’d be an outcry . But people do not realize when this sh#t happens everyone in the end loses out .

    tophatal ……………………

  11. Not to worry Chris…if you had been “trained” as I’m sure she was from the time she had the strength to hold a club then you could have been the next big thing on tour. And having a natural/balanced mind that hasn’t been warped into the completion of a singular task isn’t that bad. I mean at least you can enjoy golf and beer at the same time. 😉


  12. Bleed…

    Can you imagine going out there and getting torched by a pre-teen?

    Bad thoughts, bad thoughts, la la la la la.

    I could easily see myself resorting to throwing a club. Heck, I do that anyway.

  13. Al…

    I haven’t picked up a video game in years. And I missed Romney’s comments but I look forward to him going down in flames over the next few months.

    Have a blast on the islands, man.

  14. She’ll make some lucky guy a wonderful wife. Hopefully she won’t take up poker!

  15. Wife, Rosco?

    What is this word you speak of?

    Hey, speaking of golf, let’s do some soon. I hear mid-week is good for you.

    I can show you how bad I’ve gotten.

  16. Mid 80’s is not “bad”. Unless in this case…”Bad” is “Good”! I haven’t seen the mid 80’s since the mid 80’s! 🙂 Let’s talk soon. Ross

  17. Video games for me are now passe` !

    Speaking of owners . Browns’ owner Randy Lerner is selling his controlling interest in the NFL franchise . Obviously, Modell won’t be interested . But the clock is now clicking on Holmgren’s tenure (2005-12) as President and de-facto general manager there . Given his reign the team’s record has been woefully inept as well as their draft policy overall .

    Although 2012 might dissuade me somewhat merely because they got Trent Richardson .

    Trip down to Haiti has been postponed due to criminal element . Hotel that the firm had work colleagues and myself staying in , was robbed at gunpoint by local criminals there . WTF ! I am not so sure that if I’d been in the DR it’d have been any safer !

    I think it’d be best if this meeting were done via tele-conferencing ! Don’t you ?

    Say It Isn’t So ….

  18. No truth to rumor that with Randy Lerner set to sell his majority stake in the Cleveland Browns Art Modell is weighing his options as to whether or not it’d be a great idea to own the franchise in its new guise .

    This just in , Stern has an opinion why Dwight hasn’t been traded by the Magic . The ‘commish’ believes there’s a rat inside the Magic’s organization leaking unwarranted info about the embattled player. In truth all of the leaks have been coming from Howard’s agent Dan I’m The Man Fegan .

    When oh when will the Rays get their next win ?

    Also , Ozzie Guillen were to apologize for the abysmal display by the Marlins no one actually believe his act of contrition ?

    New around the world of sports …………. NFL

    Say It Isn’t So

    So Kim K bought Kanye was a $250,000 sport’s car as a birthday gift . What’s the priciest thing a female ever given you apart from the obvious …….. carnal pleasure ?


    tophatal …………

  19. Al…

    Holmgren had to know what he was getting himself into. I mean, it’s the Browns.

    My understanding, however, is that he’ll be there a while. That franchise is no easy fix. That being said, Richardson looks to be a big step in the right direction.

    And crime in Haiti, Al? Ya’ don’t say.

  20. Billy B…

    You do realize you just told the entire internet you shot 41 over, don’t you?

    I mean, I don’t know how many people are reading this site (actually, I do) but to put yourself out there like that. Man.

    Hope that doesn’t affect your the outcome of your future mayoral race of the Ville.

    Or maybe they’ll just appreciate you for your honesty.

  21. Al…

    I was having a nice, peaceful, Dwight-free weekend until you just brought his name up. Thanks a lot, man. A rat in the organization? A ghost in the machine? Who cares? Not me.

    And the most expensive gift I’ve ever bought a female? That would probably be the only engagement ring I ever purchased. I’ll spare you the sordid details.

    Let’s just say I got it back, sold it, and used that money to go to Las Vegas. Good times.

  22. Jacques Vaughn is the < new head coach of the Magic ? Why wasn’t I advised that the job was open to all ? WTF !

    Browns’ owner Randy Lerner will now devote more time to his Premiership soccer team Aston Villa . I guess everyone wants to follow in the footsteps of the Glazer’s ?

    You bought the engagement ring ? What your boys in the underworld couldn’t help you out ?

    Last seen or heard from , my ex was actually in London and then returned stateside . Whomever is now hittin’ that tail , God help ’em .

    So Phelps won’t be going 7 for 7 ? How sad , too bad . Stop with the hype NBC . Bob Costas’ commentary and analysis is numbingly disconcerting . His anecdotes are as bad as a having one’s teeth pulled .

    We Won’t Mortgage Our Future on some whacky idea

    tophatal ………….

  23. Chris

    Crime in Haiti can’t now be any worse than it is in the city of Chicago at present . The city is now the homicidal capital in the nation . In the last eighteen months alone there have been 535 homicides related to gun violence where the victims are under the age of 25 . The youngest victim was a 6 year old child selling cookies for the Girl Scouts when she was hit by a stray bullet in a drive by .

    The atrocity that took place in Aurora , Colorado as heinous as the incident was ………. but yet the lives lost in Chicago have been rarely been reported in the print or tv media . In large part , the vast majority of the victims in the Windy City were minorities . In Aurora , Caucasians . Skewered and imbalanced reporting and what’s said to make a good news’ story and to tug at the heart of the populace . Journalism at its very worst .

    tophatal …………..

  24. Chris

    Jags’ wide receiver Justin Blackmon is making Aqib Talib’s recent antics seem like a walk in the park .

    Bob Costas has already begun to make the Olympic coverage really boring with his anecdotes . I guess he was non too impressed with Lizzie’s skydive ?

    I think I’ll stream my coverage via the ‘net !

    tophatal …….

  25. No truth to the rumor that James Shields will become a new member of the boy band NKOTB (New Kids on the Block ) . Because as of now he’s still not on the block in terms of being traded by the Rays .

    tophatal ………

  26. Al…

    I’ll say this.

    Las Vegas is going to have a very difficult time setting the over/under on season wins for the Magic next year.

    New head coach with zero experience. An uninspired Dwight, only inspired by the fact that he wants to leave, will likely start the season in a Magic uniform, but what’s to happen?

    Do they tank? Do they make the playoffs? I can easily see that team winning 20 games or I could see them at .500.

    Your guess is as good as mine.

    And re: Costas, both he and Dan Patrick are getting a little too big for their britches. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t actually LISTENED to once second of NBC’s Olympic coverage.

  27. Al…

    That’s one of the worst parts about living in a big city: watching the local news. Nothing but crime after crime.

    And I’m thinking the Rays aren’t going to just get rid of Shields. They like him, and why wouldn’t they?

    Unless they get an offer that knocks their socks off, I think he stays.

  28. I’ve lived in Paris , France for an eighteen month stint while working for London based investment bank . Was sent there to work as an analyst and loved it especially in the northern suburbs which has a large and prominent African community made up of colonials who at one time or another were French influenced . At the time crime wasn’t that bad . However once the prominence of the French Nationalist Party (racially intolerant) was big on the landscape, everything changed . The party’s leader Jean Marie-LePen called for the killing of immigrants if they chose not to be subservient to French born citizens specifically those who were white . Need I say anymore on the matter ?

    I don’t think it matters where you live, be it in a major metropolitan city or a rural area ! It’s about common courtesy and respect in terms of living side by side as neighbors . And it certainly doesn’t foster an environment of civility when the political leaders act like bigoted as#holes !

    The Rays can’t hit their own body weight , much less anything else . So why would I expect anything better from them ?

    I don’t know that Rays front office know what they want to do in terms of making a trade much less their desire between now and the end of the season !

    tophatal …………..

  29. Is it NBC’s intent to bore the viewers to death with the banal coverage of the Olympics ?

    Bob Costas and Ryan Seacrest as hosts ? What , the talent level there is that bad ? Costas’ anecdotes are mind numbingly dumb ! As for Seacrest he makes Clay Aiken seem masculine by comparison . Bob Costas may well have more Emmy’s than he knows what to do with . But I know a place where he can put those awards !

    I prefer it when Costas is talking baseball or interviewing a sports’ personality ! During an Olympic coverage …………. he is mediocre ! NBC (Sports) paid out $1.3 billion for the North American rights to cover the events , and their coverage has been inept, and bordering on idiocy . Never mind the fact that many of the analysts and commentators provided don’t appear to be that knowledgeable to begin with !

    Thank god for the internet as I can stream the coverage through other avenues coming from the UK !

    tophatal …………………

  30. C’mon, Al….

    You’re not asking me to groove on French politics when we have enough problems over here, are ya’? And I don’t even follow those.

    Let me ask you, do you think Obama wins in a landslide this year or does the Rominator give him a run for his money?

    And again, I’m convinced the Rays are gonna ride this one out. Why wouldn’t they? They’re two games out of the wild card with their best player out for most of the season.

  31. Al…

    Most of sports broadcasting has gone downhill across the boards.

    It’s why, when I watch events, I turn down the volume on the tube and turn up the stereo.

  32. This upcoming election in terms of the candidates indicates to me how inept both candidates are and their lack of insight on so many wide ranging issues . Romney claims he’s an entrepreneur and businessman because of his work and association with Bain Capital . Look at how they conduct their business and you can denote what that company has been all about .

    Having worked in that field it’s not all it’s cracked up to be .

    Obama for all of his altruism doesn’t know when to kick a##holes to the curb such as Reid and Pelosi .

    Sad about the death of local talent O J Murdoch (Titans’ wide receiver) ! His death I don’t believe had anything to do with depression due to career related injury but something familial .

    tophatal ……….

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