Women display a game that should be dude perfect
Recently, there has been a great deal of discussion in Morning Read about the LPGA, much of it focused on foreign players, American players not practicing enough, rooting for your own countrywomen, and much of it, unfortunately, with a negative overtone.
I have a different view. From 1978 through 1989, the LPGA Championship was played at the Jack Nicklaus Sports Center, sometimes known as Kings Island, in Mason, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. I had once seen Louise Suggs and Patty Berg in a local exhibition, and the U.S. Women’s Open had been played in 1963 at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati. The LPGA Championship gave locals a chance to see the players on an annual basis, and competing on a course open to the public.
The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead and opened in 1972. It was a challenging course, and fun to play. I went to all of the LPGA Championships there, but it was the first one that got me hooked. It was won by Nancy Lopez, who had a great deal of charisma and an excellent game. She would win two more LPGA Championships during the event’s 11-year run at the Jack Nicklaus Sports Center. The tournament produced other great champions, including Donna Caponi, Jan Stephenson, Patty Sheehan and Pat Bradley.
I went to watch each year, at least for a day, and was amazed at how well the field played and scored on a course that I knew to be difficult from my own rounds there.
At one of the early events, one of the area’s highly respected golf instructors and I were chatting and he said (to the effect), “You know, men should be out here to watch and learn how to play the game.” I was surprised, and he went on: “Watch their tempo, the smooth swing, their accuracy and their short game. Men should try to emulate these gals.
“Most men,” he continued, “think deep down, if they really catch the ball just right, they can hit the ball as far as [depending on your age, insert Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus or Koepka] and so they swing too fast, too hard, lose their balance, and their swing goes out of plane. If they followed the ladies, established a smooth swing, making solid contact with the ball and kept their balance, they’d hit the ball a good way, stay in the fairway and score better. They should also practice their short game. It’s not as much fun as belting one, but it’s the key.”
I’ve thought about his comments and, with them in mind, I enjoy watching the women play, and I think it’s positive for my game.
There’s one thing that every golfer could learn from Lopez. Her father wasn’t a golfer and knew little about the game, but he gave her good advice: “Play happy.” And she did. She always appeared to be having a good time, and always flashed a smile. That’s something every golfer should do (including you guys on the PGA Tour).
Majors mean more; that’s why they’re majors
With the greatest of respect to reader Rufus McKinney, major championships always have been the measurement of the greatest players (“From the Morning Read inbox,” July 5).
If you ask most PGA Tour professionals whether they would rather win the RBC Heritage or the British Open, U.S. Open, Masters or PGA Championship, I know what they would choose. (I'm not diminishing the RBC, just maintaining the importance of the majors.) People who know the game well know that Tiger Woods is chasing Jack Nicklaus' majors record, not his overall tournament record (as great as that is).
You only have to look at how major-championship pressure has affected some of the greatest players in the game who never won one to see how much the majors are measured by the players.
As for majors not affecting a player's career trajectory, nothing could be further from the truth. Ask Danny Willett, John Daly, Lucas Glover, Graeme McDowell, et al., how winning a major title changed their lives, and they likely would say that they were changed in a very big way.
By all means, state how great it is to win any U.S. or European tour tournament – and it is – but it can't compare to the majors. History is proof of that.
A round of applause (politely) for European fans
I love watching broadcasts of European tournaments. The galleries are appreciative and polite. You don’t have the unruly, obnoxious loudmouths yelling after every shot – just lots of Oohs, Ahhs and polite clapping. To me, it makes watching much more enjoyable.
As for the LPGA, I’d love to watch more of the women play; I don’t care who is winning. The problem is when and how to watch them. Golf Channel usually shows them but spends more air time on the Hogan (sorry, but it’ll always be the Hogan to me) Tour. It would be nice if the women’s broadcast could be repeated later, as are the men’s events. Also, if you don’t have access to Golf Channel, you can’t watch most of the women’s tournaments.
Forest Ranch, Calif.
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