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Pushy parenting backfires

John Poole
Vail CO, Colorado

If you’re a casual professional golf fan, you probably heard of the win this past weekend by the seasoned Phil Mickelson at the revered Players Championship on a hallowed track in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

If you’re a moderate professional golf fan, you probably caught some of the final round which paired Phil with a lanky 24-year-old prodigy named Sean O’Hair who held the lead on Sunday morning of a tournament that is often considered the fifth major.

If your interest in professional golf is slightly above moderate, you may have seen young Sean hand the tournament to Phil with two water balls at the gimmicky island green 17th hole. While the sight of a youngster among veterans throwing $750,000 in prize money into a man-made lake was excruciating, the story of Sean O’Hair makes any monetary debacle seem inconsequential.

There are probably many folks who don’t know a 9-iron from a curling iron, but caught the “60 Minutes II” special a few years ago about the rigorous training regimen Sean was put through by his domineering father. Marc O’Hair opened the segment with a jaw-dropping statement, “I was in business 20-plus years and I know how to make a profit. You’ve got the same old thing ” it’s material, labor and overhead. He’s pretty good labor.”

Marc would make his human investment run a mile for every shot over par after a tournament. A 79 after a particular junior tournament sent Sean on a seven-mile post-round treadmill excursion to nowhere. After Sean turned pro at 17 years old he signed a contract with his father promising 10 percent of his professional earnings for life. And though Sean and his father haven’t spoken in five years, Marc has plans of revenge.

“As soon as he gets famous, I am going to lower the boom,” Marc says. “I am going to show everybody what he did to me. I have no intention of suing him. I intend to crucify him in the media, because what he did to me is not right.”

Nice Marc.

It looks like Sean’s dad remains self-interested and heartless while his son gains confidence and strength with every day outside of his ruthless shackles. Marc saw dollar signs and the whole thing backfired. To most this probably isn’t a surprise but in the skewed mind of Marc O’Hair he’s still getting the short end of the gap wedge.

Fortunately, the O’Hair story will most likely end well, at least for Sean, but it rears the head of an age-old debate about how much kids should be pushed by their parents. I’ll admit that I could have used a little kick in the rear at 15 years old to spend more time playing golf instead of jamming three-chord power ballads with an out-of-tune Fender Squire in my bedroom.

But even if I was given a boot camp of golf training, I’d now be in the same spot of playing company scramble tournaments and jamming three-chord power ballads on Guitar Hero ” definitely a step up from an out-of-tune Squire.

John Poole, an Eagle-Vail resident, writes a biweekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at poolejohn@gmail.com. Check out his blog at blurium.blogspot.com.


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