Boys were mad at Jenny Suh even before the 17-year-old from Chantilly won the Virginia AAA high school boys golf tournament in October.
"On the last hole, when I had to sink the last putt, these boys from one team were yelling and screaming at me," she said. Instead of the usual polite silence, there were taunting shouts. " 'You gotta make this one, Jenny. You gotta do it. C'mon Jenny.' "
She sank the putt, won and resisted the urge to shout back. But the hostility she felt on the course only increased afterward.
The reason some people were mad at her? She won the tournament playing from tees set closer to the hole than the tees the boys used. The rules were changed four years ago to allow girls to compete with this advantage.
People "trash-talked" about Jenny behind her back. Some told her it wasn't fair how she won.
"It bothered me at first," she recalled in a telephone interview. "For the first few days, I would not let anyone go who thought I didn't deserve to win. Now, I just let it go. Some people are just too thick-headed to get it."
Jenny said she feels it's fair for girls to compete from the closer "red tees" since girls and women just can't hit as far. "Women just need a little additional help on the distance," she said. "All these boys at state said I could hit it as far as they could. But I can't."
A shorter girls' course corrects that difference and makes the competition an even challenge for boys and girls, Jenny said.
"It's still hard for me. I have to be accurate over a long distance, I have to deal with fast greens, I have to put the ball in the hole," she said.
Jenny pointed out that no one complained about her during the previous three years, when she competed in the same boys' tournament and didn't win. "It's so interesting that they only got upset when I won," she said.
Jenny is happy that Connecticut golfer Suzy Whaley will be golfing against men in a PGA Tour tournament, and using the same tees that they do. But Jenny said it will be difficult for Whaley to compete on a full-length course: "Those men can hit it 280-300 yards. She won't be as consistent as they will be at that distance."
Jenny, who wants to play professionally some day, started golfing at 8 years old. "My dad didn't want to baby-sit and he was a golfaholic, so he took my brother and me," she said. "I was 10 when I was in my first tournament and I just kept going with it, and here I am now."
-- Fern Shen