I guess hell just froze over. Stay tuned for a big announcement today from Augusta, GA. Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters, has been a venue the LPGA Tour has wanted to compete at for decades. They’ve wanted a “Ladies Masters” tournament of some sort, but those wishes have fallen on deaf ears. My inside sources have informed me that The Masters Tournament committee has frog-jumped the LPGA Ladies Masters idea and gone right to admitting female competitors in the Masters Tournament starting in 2018.
Don’t expect to see female competitors for half the field in 2018 though. In fact, I’d only expect to see perhaps five or less. My source has told me qualifying for females or males will be basically the same except for the additions to allow the female USGA Amateur champion in, along with the five (if there are in fact five) LPGA Tour major champions from the previous year.
I can’t wait to hear what Martha Burke has to say. Twitter and the social sphere will surely be exploding as the news gets out.
What are your thoughts? Is this the right move or not? And will the ladies be playing the member tees or the Masters tees? There are only two sets of tees there, and personally I think the Masters tees would destroy any female golfer’s chances because the course is so long now.
I’m probably going to tick a few people off with my following comments but you can’t fix what isn’t broken. I stumbled across a Twitter discussion the other day that got the two of the three brain cells in my cranium activated. The reason only two cells is because the 3rd is in charge of keeping my heart beating and lungs pumping air, but I digress. The question:
“How can we golf fix the wage gap between the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour?”
LPGA star Stacey Lewis in a recent Golf.com piece laments the pay gap:
“It’s pretty frustrating to still see the huge gap in what the guys are paid and we are paid, you know. When really we are doing the same thing and the only difference is the TV numbers and the TV ratings. That’s really it. We’re probably actually hitting more fairways than the guys and more greens than the guys, you know. There’s certain parts of the game we actually do better. Um, you know when I play with the guys a lot they’re like ‘do you ever miss a fairway?’ That’s usually what they say to me so, I mean, our games are pretty comparable so it’s just the exposure.”
My first reaction to the stats argument is that I know a guy who golfs every day and is 80 years old. He’s practically deaf and can barely see. I’ve NEVER seen this guy miss a fairway. He hits his driver about 100 yards and dead straight every time. He should be making $10 million a year! Think back to when Tiger Woods was dominating professional golf. His driving accuracy was terrible, barring a few stretches where it was just mediocre. But he could hit recovery shots nobody else could. He made the putts when he had to at the most dramatic times. It was golf entertainment at a level which had probably never been higher and may never be again.
How does TaylorMade market their drivers? The number one thing they’ll hit potential buyers with is distance. Sure they’ll mention accuracy as a side note but really, the buyer doesn’t seem to care that much. It’s about distance, power… It’s not about fairways hit or who hits the most greens in regulation. Otherwise Fred Funk would have been Tiger Woods. From a fan standpoint it’s about entertainment. All due respect to Fred Funk, I’d rather watch Tiger or Rory McIlory, Jason Day. That said, when Fred Funk won THE PLAYERS (always spell that in ALL CAPS. It’s what they do), his funky chicken dance was very entertaining.
Lewis says that if the women simply got more exposure they would become as popular as the men. Uh, no. I rarely watch professional golf anymore, but if I do, I want to watch the best, most exciting golfers on the planet. Those golfers are Rory McIlory, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth… You get it. Sure the LPGA players are talented and such, I’m not arguing that point.
When it boils down to nuts and bolts the LPGA Tour and PGA Tour are forms of entertainment, just like the NBA. The salaries of professional golfers are paid by the fans who either support the advertisers for events, or support the players’ sponsors. The players who draw the most attention naturally are the ones who can draw the biggest paychecks in the form of prize money and endorsements, like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlory, and so on. The men are obviously more entertaining to the general public than the women are, and therefore draw more revenue. The general public doesn’t care about fairway percentage or greens in regulation or the LPGA Tour would have surpassed the PGA Tour in viewership long ago.
Pro golf is not an industry like my day job doing web development. If I have a set of specific web development skills which are the same as a female web developer then it is certainly unfair that on average she would make 78 cents compared to every dollar I make. That is completely unfair and not right. But pro golf isn’t web development. It’s not managing a Subway. It’s not asset management or working at a bank or doing sales or flying an airplane. It’s an entertainment industry. In such an industry the money is driven by viewers.
Arguing for gender equity in professional golf is an argument that will never win. If the LPGA was truly as entertaining as the PGA Tour, it would have already established itself as an equal in viewership and sponsor dollars. It’s not and it never will be.
Yani Tseng, the #1 female golfer on this planet, may get a sponsor’s exemption to play in the PGA TOUR’s Puerto Rico Open. I’ve covered the Puerto Rico Open, which struggles to get a good field and major air time. It goes up against the World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship which is in Doral at the TPC Blue Monster, March 5-11. The WGC event pulls the top 50 players in the world, so the Puerto Rico Open struggles for sloppy seconds.
So a great way to create a buzz and generate a lot more media attention for the Puerto Rico Open would be to have the #1 female golfer in the world tee it up against the men. That is apparently the plan of the general chairman of the event, Sidney Wolf:
“Having the number one player here would open our event to a broader audience. It could open up the possibility of a LPGA event here, and ultimately help us raise funds for our charities. It would also create awareness of Puerto Rico globally, which would economically be very positive for the island.”
Tseng however, hasn’t accepted the exemption because strangely she hasn’t been contacted.
“It’s a little odd that this came through the media without Yani being contacted first about her interest. The Puerto Rico Open still hasn’t contacted anyone from Yani’s team. This is all coming to her indirectly through the media.” ~Ernie Huang, Tseng’s management team
Can Tseng Compete On The Course?
The PR Open is held at Trump International Golf Club, a fairly flat track with some rolling hills lining the holes. The length of the course is a massive 7,569 yards at SEA LEVEL. With an LPGA leading driving distance of 267.911 (yes they go three decimal points on the LPGA), that would put her at quite a disadvantage. The PGA TOUR average in driving distance is 290, and her 267.911 would be good enough for 187th place on tour in that category–dead last. Tseng would definitely need to rely on her short game and putting to make up for her distance disadvantage.
Waste Management Phoenix Open
Thursday 2/25 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM ET GOLF
Friday 2/26 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM ET GOLF
Saturday 2/27 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM ET GOLF
Sunday 2/28 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM ET GOLF
HSBC Women’s Champions
Saturday 2/27 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM ET GOLF
Sunday 2/28 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM ET GOLF
Maybank Malaysian Open
Thursday 3/4 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET GOLF
Friday 3/5 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET GOLF
Saturday 3/6 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET GOLF
Sunday 3/7 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET GOLF
Friday 3/5 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM ET GOLF
Saturday 3/6 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM ET GOLF
Sunday 3/7 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM ET GOLF
The rumors have been flying for a while. Now there are headlines surfacing saying that Carolyn Bivens, LPGA Tour Commissioner, will be either fired or will quit by next week.
The so called “death sentence” was a letter submitted by some top players on the LPGA Tour asking for Bivens to resign.
Many have said that Bivens has not been good for the LPGA. I’m not informed enough to really make such a call. I just don’t follow the LPGA much.
All I can say is that it won’t necessarily make things any better with her out. The economy stinks and the LPGA Tour is a 3rd or 4th tier product.
I want to watch the best, like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Ochoa is incredible, yes, but I want to watch THE best golfers in the world and they’re not on the LPGA Tour.