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Anthony Kim and Michelle Wie: The Power of Parents

Overbearing parents are nothing new in sports, but it seems in golf a new pair or three crop up every year. Not that Michelle Wie’s folks are anything new — we’ve known about their propensity to control every aspect of Wie’s career while they sell their daughter to the highest bidder. But columnist and blogger Steve Elling notes that latest talk regarding Michelle’s decision to go to Stanford is over the top:

As nearly everybody knows, Wie is in the midst of her first year at Stanford, where under school edict, she is is required to live in the freshman dormitory. This is where the story begins.

First, her parents asked school administrators if the rule could be waived so that Wie could live off-campus with her parental unit.

Stanford: No.

Second, the parents asked if she could be granted a room of her own. No annoying roommate, in other words.

Stanford: No.

Finally, the Wies asked if they could live in the dormitory with her.

Stanford: Hell, no.

The textbook definition of overbearing parent just reached a new level. If “low” is a level, anyway.

Which is the context I brought to reading a Golfweek storyabout Anthony Kim and his rocky relationship with his father, who also sounds like a charmer. Before Kim and the Wies there was the sad storyof Sean O’Hair, who was pushed so hard by his father that he finally snapped and told his Pop to take a hike. And Stuart Appleby once told me that Hank Kuehne’s father Ernie was the worst on tour, though his kids turned out well (though with their own problems).

Kim’s tale is similar to O’Hair, though he seems to have embraced his abilities a little more quickly than O’Hair.

Still, like Wie and O’Hair, this sounds a bit like father focusing too much on an exceptional child:

At an early age it became apparent Anthony Kim had the golf gift. So much so that Anthonys golf career became the familys solitary focus. After Anthony learned the game on L.A.s dogeared municipal tracks, Paul Kim sold the family house in Studio City in 2001 and purchased a condo adjacent to the Stadium Courses first green at PGA West in La Quinta in order to give Anthony a better opportunity to hone his powerful action.

Perhaps making Kim the centre of everything led to both his success (he breezed his way onto the PGA Tour) and his failings (like a physical altercation with his coach at university). Either way, I`m sure this isn`t the last I`ve seen of this sort of parental bullying, and while Kim looks like an emerging superstar, Wie still seems lost. I`m convinced until she grows up enough to make decisions for herself, she won`t have the degree of success many expect. In fact, the Wies are increasingly making the Spears family look normal by comparison….

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I wonder if any reporter ask Matt Kuchar about his father’s role in his development. I recall Justin Leonard complaining about Senior Kutchar having crossed the line when showing his enthusiasm while caddying for his son.

  • I am not sure Steve Elling even has a point here. Did he bother to ask Stanford whether in fact other students/parents have made similar requests? Do we really think that Wie’s parents are the only ones to make these requests? Let’s be serious here.

    I am certain that many parents have asked to have their children live off campus. That is not a crazy request, particularly if they live near Stanford.

    I am sure most parents sending their children off to Stanford have asked for a private room (that seems like a fair question). I know I would ask that!

    Finally, the third question was likely framed in a way to determine whether there are any options to keep the family unit together. In other words, they wanted to continue to live with Michelle. That doesn’t seem like a bizarre question to me????

    So where is the story???? Yes, we know Michelle’s parents are strong willed. A lot of parents are……but this story really is silly and shows lack of any depth.

  • Kuchar’s dad was over-enthusiastic (and very annoying), but that doesn’t necessarily equate to him being pushy and over-involved. Considering Kuchar decided to stay in school rather than take endorsement money, he seems more independent than most.

  • Quite the story. I imagine many parents asking if their child can enter Stanford with a private room.. Wow, what evil parent would do that? Asking whether their child could live off campus??? The nerve of these parents! Asking whether the family unit could be maintained?? They should be put in jail. Call children’s aid. Seriously RT you have no business writing about this. This does not concern Wie’s golf. It is a private matter. Get off you high horse. Her parents likely asked questions of Stanford that most parents would ask. Stop judging. If you want to judge, tell us what kind of parent you are? It was not too long ago when you paraded your daughter on these pages with golf clubs. Perhaps we should ask what kind of parent you are? Exploiting your daughter that way. But I think that would be entirely inappropriate, as is your blog on Wie’s university choices.

  • I have real difficulty comparing a post about taking my daughter to hit golf balls and running a photo of it, with referencing a Florida writer’s blog post about Michelle Wie. This is simply another writer commenting on the propensity of the Wie family to be ultra-controlling. I really didn’t even comment on it — just used it as a comparison to speak about an article on Anthony Kim.

    As for “exploiting my daughter,” that is just about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in some time. Feel free to withdraw your head from your ass at any time.

  • it is so SAD that kids in the US have no idea what parenting means! I fully agree with wie’s and kim’s parents. All of ya’all stop expressing your own stupid ideas about kim’s and wie’s folks! Its a sorry state of affairs that it is coz our messed up society that morons like Dr. phil and oprah are making billions of dollars. Simple take home message here is JUST TAKE CARE OF YOUR KIDS and love them the way you want to love them. Rest none of the irresponsible people (Dr. phils etc) have no right to comment on how to raise our kids!
    God Bless

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