Having earned her 2011 LPGA tour card, Shasta Averyhardt becomes the first African-American LPGA member since LaRee Sugg in 2001. She won’t have full status, but she should get into a handful of tournaments. My hope for her, besides good luck that she plays well, is that eventually she will just be a golfer, not an African-American golfer. First of all, she is also of Hispanic heritage. I, too, am a biracial person and I know that people generally just label biracial people often as just one thing, based on appearance. Like Tiger Woods, I am of Asian (Thai) and American (African-American) heritage. But also like Tiger, people just see black. So for Shasta, she’s not just a black golfer, but already that is what she has been labelled by some media. It’s ok to embrace that. Shasta has embraced that, being inspired by Tiger Woods.
From her words, it seems like she would embrace the role of inspiring other minority girls to play golf. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is a wonderful thing. Se Ri Pak in 1998 inspired an entire country of girls (and boys) to play golf, resulting in a shift in LPGA membership light years past what Tiger has done on the PGA, in terms of changing the number of members on the PGA of similar heritage. Se Ri Pak ushered in the wave of Seoul Sisters. But at the end of the day, I hope the questions, which will come particularly if she plays well, about being a role model will cease to be asked and she can just play. I hope if she makes mistakes, particularly in rules or etiquette, that they be judged as just the mistakes of any other golfer and nothing more. When Cristie Kerr or Paula Creamer tee it up, they are not carrying the mantle of their race on their backs. But already that is the story with Shasta. At this point, I understand. Eventually, though, while still inspiring young minority girls to play, I hope Shasta can just be a golfer.