Judge bans 10 year-old “prodigy” from playing tournaments because of parents’ custody battle

Deadspin reports: Judge Jeanette Irby of the Circuit Court of Loudoun County, Va. entered her ruling in the case of Michael Vechery vs. Florence Cottet-Moine, a dispute over custody of their 10-year-old daughter. A  prodigious talent who has won 11 of the last 12 tournaments she’s entered in the Mid-Atlantic region. Thanks to America’s scratchy judicial system, she will now watch as Judge Irby jeopardises her golfing future.

“She’s really good,” says Kris Tschetter, LPGA tour veteran of 24 years and coach to the young girl. “Like, really, really good,” she added.

The Judge’s ruling:

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Judge Irby.

After a seven year custody battle the judge decided that the young girl should be banned from competitive golf and restricted from playing:

“[Vechery’s child] shall not be permitted to play competitive golf for one year. Competitive golf is defined by the court as no tournament and no lessons with any golf pro with the exception of the father. The father and [child] may play no more than one round of golf per week for five hours with putting and practice whichever is greater.”

Journalist Dave McKenna asked the child’s golf teacher about the ruling: “I can’t even begin to figure out where it’s coming from!” she said. “This is negligent! [Judge Irby] is saying you can’t play in a tournament even if you want to? Did anybody ask the child if she wants to play? I’m …. I’m … I’m speechless!” She added.

The young girl isn’t just being pushed by her father, she’s also enthusiastic, especially after watching the likes of Lexi Thompson play in tournaments. “These events have made me really want to play better and maybe play professionally,” she told an interviewer for a regional golf magazine.

So there you have it, a young girl wants to play golf and can’t because of a BS ruling. This makes the USGA look like Dustin Johnson’s guardian angel.

So why does Judge Irby have influence?

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Robert Emery

“When parents turn to courts to decide their dispute for them, they lose control, including over possible compromises,” says Robert Emery, the director of Law at the University of Virginia.  “They also expect vindication, but rarely find it. I cannot understand why our courts continue to entertain and thereby encourage these kinds of disputes,” he added in a recent interview with Deadspin.

From all accounts Vechery made the mistake of not equipping himself with a lawyer during the hearings. To make things worse he has a history of “antagonising” powerful people:

Long story short, he pulled a publicity stunt during the Washington National’s preseason in 2005. He managed to obtain media credentials and asked the one question you weren’t allowed to ask at the time…steroids. He asked manager Frank Robinson if ballplayers caught with steroids should have asterisks affixed to their home run stats. As you can imagine that went down like a sack of shit and Vechery was briskly thrown out of the press conference. In retaliation Vechery sued the Nats, alleging his banishment was retaliation for his steroids question, which it was. The parties settled out of court in 2008.


The golf world reacts:

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Bob Toski arranges an annual tournament for the most talented youngsters in America.

Bob Toski, 89, is a member of the PGA Hall of Fame who runs a junior golf academy in Florida and holds an annual tournament for the most promising juniors. Bob worked with Vechery’s daughter in late 2014, and says he was so upset when he heard about Judge Irby’s order that he called up PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem directly:

“I’d never called [Finchem] before about a problem,” “But this bothered me so much I told Tim, ‘I got a problem with a little girl being banned from golf.’”

The PGA were unable to offer help, although they did recommend a lawyer. Unfortunately this ban has been running for a few months, but that hasn’t stopped good ol’Bob Toski showing some beautiful give-a-fuckery:

“I’m going to have her come down and play in it,” “I don’t give a goddamn what the judge says. Maybe we won’t keep score. But she can play in it. Common sense has gone out the fucking window!”


Bob sums up the general sentiment better than I can. I will say one thing, whilst it would be wrong to pick sides in a complicated legal situation such as this, sensible litigation must put the child’s personal interests first, NOT the grievances of two adults. Shame on anyone or anything that has enabled this senseless situation to materialise.

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