By the age of 19, Lydia Ko has already 14 LPGA Tour events, two major championships and a Player of the Year award (in 2015). Just a few months away from her 20th birthday, though, Ko is at a major crossroads of her career. Ko, who has been ranked No. 1 in the world for the last 61 weeks, last won in July and split with her caddie of two years in October. Most recently, Ko fired swing coach David Leadbetter, and is on the verge of an equipment change.
Leadbeatter voiced his concern that Ko’s parents were playing too big a role in her athletic career (and subverting his efforts as a coach), and Ko admitted in an interview with LPGA.com that she’s been “too reliant” on her parents at times.
It’s dangerous for golfers to change even one variable, but Ko is effectively relaunching her career before she hits 20. In a piece for ESPN, two-time major champion Dottie Pepper warned Ko to take ownership of her career.
“I’m not going to judge the personalities involved, but I will always be critical of over-involved parents/spouses as well as students and teachers who don’t arrive at tournaments with their preparation complete.
Tournament time is when you put your work on auto pilot and play golf, not try to reinvent the wheel with a teacher stuck to you like cellophane. Leadbetter (and he’s not alone in this) constantly shows up at the biggest events and is over-involved with the student, not just applying a bit of polish and a pop of confidence. I also found this particular case fascinating because Hogan was Lydia’s day-to-day coach, not Leadbetter. But when the biggest events rolled around, Leadbetter was the one present.
Advice to Lydia: Take ownership of everything in your life and do your preparation in the quiet of your home, not in the public eye.”