The SCGA Junior Golf Foundation is committed to creating an inclusive golf community for all juniors. As part of its ongoing work to help increase diversity in the game, the Foundation strives to amplify the voices of its community members and use its platform to help spark change within the game. Scholar Ami Hamada, a Mexican American and Asian American woman, shared her perspective on why diversity is important as part of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Why is diversity and representation important in golf?
I cannot emphasize enough how important diversity and representation are in everything, including golf. Studies have shown that a lack of representation has a negative impact on one’s self esteem. Recently, I read something for class that mentioned Kenneth Clark’s experiment from the 1950s on diversity and representation. In this experiment, children were given a white doll and a black doll. According to the results, the Black children preferred the white doll and often associated negative qualities with the black doll. The researchers concluded that the experiment demonstrated how racial segregation contributed to internalized feelings of inferiority for the Black children.
I mention this to make it clear that the importance of representation is nonnegotiable. Seeing people who you can identify with portrayed in a positive light is empowering. To see someone who looks like you succeed, especially if they succeed at something you dream of doing, it fuels you with inspiration and motivation. Without representation, people are forced to question themselves. Is there a reason nobody like me is doing this? Am I not welcome? Am I inherently incapable? Role models are vital to people’s growth, but it is even more valuable to have a role model that you can identify with.
Why is it important that we all step up and all come together? Can golf help us overcome some of the issues we face in today’s society?
It seems a little silly to be asked why it’s important to step up and come together. If you saw someone severely injured, would you not call 911 and take care of them until help arrives? Maybe I’m naïve, but sometimes I like to think that it is human nature to help one another. Then there are times like this when I am disappointed to watch people full of hate senselessly harm others. Although physical harm makes it more obvious that someone needs help, there are deeper levels in which hate can impact a person. As I’ve mentioned self-esteem plays a huge role in shaping a person and it is easily affected by racial hate.
I’ve always been taught that golf is a social game in which you are expected to be polite, honest, respectful and friendly. Yet, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people gossip about how people of certain races act on the golf course. It’s disheartening to see how normalized it is to talk about people this way. Golf is often referred to as a sport in which you compete against yourself. It seems that it would make sense then, that golf should be an opportunity to lift each other up.
Growing up in golf, how important was it to you to find a community of other golfers/coaches that looked like you?
Luckily, I had my siblings and my father to look up to when I grew up playing golf. However, when I competed in junior tournaments, I often felt ostracized. Though, to be fair, it’s most likely that it was due to my introverted nature. In any case, there was a time I played in a tournament dedicated to Mexican American juniors, and I remember feeling more at ease. It’s hard to describe, but I just felt more comfortable to be myself.