U.S. Girls’ Jr. rules controversy: a lesson for us all

I struggled with whether or not to feed into the overreaction about this weekend’s U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship controversy, but I think it’s important to spread positivity on social media and leave a better online forum for the next generation.

In case you missed it, 16-year-olds Erica Shepard and Elizabeth Moon were competing in Friday’s U.S. Girls Junior Championship match play event when, on the first playoff hole during their semifinal match, Moon missed her putt and out of frustration immediately pulled the ball back. Shepard wasn’t given anytime to concede the ensuing tap-in and immediately stated that she didn’t have a chance to wave the putt.

Unfortunately, the attackers came out on social media and berated Shepard for pointing out her opponent’s misstep. Shepard stated she was sorry that the match ended that way and went on to win in the finals the next day.

It’s always so sad to see so many people quick to judge and belittle someone on the Internet. Twitter can be a melting pot of Internet brutality and I hope that someday this negative melting pot will shrink to near non-existence – and that we will all use Twitter simply to spread news, content and light rather than nasty comments and darkness.

I’m not saying that we can’t question, debate or give thoughtful critique online, but you know of the unnecessary hatred that is taken to the extreme online daily that I am referring to.

You will never once see me criticize someone online or publicly. I don’t see the need, nor do I understand what someone’s motives are to cut others down – those they don’t even know personally – online and in a public forum. Whether it makes them feel better about themselves or deflects some of their own inner frustrations on someone else while hiding behind their computer screen – I guess I’ll never know.

But I do know that it was taken to a whole new low this weekend when people and adults came out to publicly criticize a teenager.

Only 16, Shepard was just being truthful and Moon made an unfortunate mistake that I’m sure she is likely to never do again. It should’ve been a learning experience for the both of them, period. Nothing more. Now they’ve both been subject to online negativity.

That’s all this instance would’ve been just a few years ago. The two girls would’ve learned from the experience and moved on without much controversy or media coverage.

I understand this not the world we live in now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change it. And it doesn’t mean we can’t leave the Internet a better place than it is now.

In Paul’s Letter to Timothy in the Bible, it’s Paul’s mission to pass down the lessons of Christ to the next generation so that those principles may live on. Whether or not religion, the Bible or Christianity is your thing – I’d hope that we can all agree that it is our mission as adults to be a good example and pass down a positive legacy and a better world.

So next time something like this happens, don’t be quick to go on the attack online. Or next time you are feeling down or have distaste for something you see, mutter those thoughts to yourself – don’t send them out into the online world. Be better than that. Make the Internet a better place.

I hope that in someway, my fun videos for PGA TOUR Digital are making the Internet a more positive place. So if you ever need a pick-me-up, just watch Trending On TOUR or The Takeaway – I promise I’ll make it my mission to make things a little brighter.

About Teryn Gregson

Teryn Gregson (formerly Schaefer) is an award-winning journalist, golf presenter, on-camera host, wife and blogger. Connecting with golf fans world-wide, Teryn is best known for her role as a broadcaster for the PGA TOUR.