Parallels between LPGA and WNBA
Thanks for giving Juli Inkster the opportunity to expand on her comments at the Solheim Cup (“Inkster: Female golfers deserve better,” Sept. 11, http://bit.ly/2xhZIwL). Your questions were incisive.
She ducked many of them, choosing to complain about corporate honchos who (she presumes) would rather play in pro-ams with big-name male professionals vs. big-name women and about how corporate sponsors can't tell one Kim from another.
I write from the perspective of a public golf-course operator who chases the women’s market as hard as possible, and whose golf-services manager (who does all the things a head pro does except teach golf) is a woman.
And I have a pretty good recollection of when our course hosted the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship in 1994. Our mostly-male clientele was blown away by the talent of the players (and the glamour of two tall, blonde players from Southern California, champion Jill McGill and runner-up Heidi Voorhees).
Our teaching pro in those days was female, many of her students were female, and they also had a good time watching terrific female amateurs play a course we all knew like the backs of our hands. That didn't translate into an upsurge in female customers at our course.
Neither did the Tiger Woods era of dominating the Tour (and boosting TV ratings for golf) translate into an upsurge of minority golfers. Anyone who thinks Woods, as a charismatic champion, brought a significant number of new people of all colors, ages and sexes into the game wasn't spending much time behind the sales counter at golf courses. Golf participation declined during the Woods era.
One wonders why more women don't watch LPGA events. Since many men and women (golfers and non-golfers) watch the PGA Tour on TV, one might infer that the females among them would gravitate toward watching the LPGA on TV in significant numbers. If that's not happening, it's probably for the same reasons that female basketball fans prefer the NBA to the WNBA.
(Bennell is president of Tam O’Shanter Co., which operates Tam O’Shanter Golf Course in Canton, Ohio.)
Ask not what your company can do for you …
Juli Inkster is one of my favorite players of all time.
I watch women’s golf on a weekly basis, but unless it is a Women’s U.S. or British Open, I am more likely to watch a men’s event live and then watch the women’s event on tape. Thus, your suggestion that finishing a tournament on Wednesday is a good one.
One suggestion for Inkster: She seems to be looking for corporate sponsors to do more for women’s golf. She has it backwards. The reason any corporate executive is going to support any tour event is going to depend on his or her view of what that event can do for the image and sales of the corporation. Inkster needs to factor this into her efforts and perspective.
The thing I really like about women’s golf is that I can more easily relate to the way they manage a golf course, because our physical capabilities (distance) are similar. Most men, myself included, cannot play bomb-and-gouge golf like male Tour players.
LPGA should promote its best assets
The LPGA is missing the point. The new rules concerning what the women can wear is ridiculous. Sex sells, and they are taking that aspect out of the game.
I am not a sexist but just being practical. The women should be encouraged to look good, and then more men might watch. The women’s game is more like the average man than the PGA Tour is. Most men can’t hit it 200 yards, and yet they all think we are Dustin Johnson.
The women’s swings should be copied by most men, other than the top amateurs.
I would rather see Michelle Wie’s legs than Shanshan Feng’s. Most advertisers would agree.
Stephen A. Durham
Americans need to win on LPGA
The U.S. has nearly 10 times the population of South Korea, yet South Korea has 10 players on the leader board when we have one. I view the disparity as a matter of work ethic, dedication and desire.
Ben Hogan, responding to a player suggesting a wager but wanting strokes, said, “Spend as much time on the practice tee as I do and you won't need strokes.”
Maybe spending as much time on the practice tee as the Asian players is the key to putting more American flags on the leader board. It might surprise Juli Inkster how much support the LPGA would get from American fans.
Siding with Stephenson
Jan Stephenson got I trouble for saying that Asian players were
destroying the LPGA tour, but she was correct. They are great players, but it's a cultural thing.
I have a lot of respect for Juli Inkster. About a month ago, she was near the lead of an LPGA event. I made a note to turn it on and see if she was still close. When I saw she wasn't, I turned it off.
Conditional support for Walker Cup expansion
Three days for the Walker Cup would be great, as long as it’s not opening dates for the NFL (“It’s time for Walker Cup to expand to 3 days,” Sept. 11, http://bit.ly/2eRVulf).
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