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Archive for September 3, 2010

Commentary: What’s up with the LPGA?

by Mary Armstrong, published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 9/3/10

This past weekend, I watched the closing holes of the Canadian Women’s Open as Michelle Wie took aim on her second LPGA win. I was reminded of a year or so ago when the LPGA was in dire straits because they were losing a significant number of tour stops. In September there will be only one LPGA Event — The P&G Northwest Arkansas Championship by Walmart. September is one of the best golfing months of the year in North America — interest by the viewing public is high. So what gives?

Michael Whan was hired as Commissioner last October to rescue the LPGA. By now, I had hoped he would have restored at least one of the “lost” tournaments or secured a new one on American soil. A quick scan of the news items on the LPGA website for the past year reveals just a couple of new events were announced. The Sybase Match Play Championship’s inaugural event was announced at the end of last year and was played May 20-23, 2010. The only thing is — that’s just a renaming and re-formatting of an existing event. Several other “spins” on renaming or extending commitments were announced as well, but there was really only one new event for 2010. The Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia event was announced in March 2009, prior to Whan’s hiring. The Tournament will be played in Malaysia during one of the LPGA’s Asian swings Oct. 22-24, 2010.

Interestingly, last January the LPGA announced that the 2010 season is “its 60th year as a leader in the world of professional sports. Founded in 1950, the LPGA was built by 13 pioneering women who envisioned a full professional tour for women golfers.”

I have to wonder when they will achieve that again. What do you suppose those “13 pioneering women” might think about the state of the tour? It’s certainly interesting — there’s lots of diversity and women have many opportunities to travel all over the world. Of course, the fact that you have to travel all over the world makes expenses very high and the purses remain insultingly low. The winner on the PGA Tour each week could nearly sponsor an LPGA event with their winning check. PGA Tour purses have been hovering in the $6-to-$7 million dollar range this year, while most of the LPGA events are under $2 million.If you read my column frequently, you probably aren’t surprised that I’m wondering why the LPGA isn’t being run by a woman. I know a woman was fired before hiring Whan, but there are capable executives and the firing kind no matter what the gender. Times are tough — we all know that — but these are times when the biggest business decisions are made as well. It’s a time when risks are taken. I started my own business in 1990 during the last big real estate bust. I had nothing to lose. The LPGA doesn’t either. If they don’t make some kind of change, do something creative, another 13 women may have to come along and blaze a new trail.By the way, Michelle won.Tiger WatchI had to laugh this weekend when the golf broadcasters brought out the video analysis of Tiger Woods’ swing.They wanted to talk about the new “change” he is making. Tiger’s “problem” isn’t in his swing, but that’s what he and his handlers want you to think. In 2009, according to his own website, Tiger Woods was No. 1 on the prize money list, nearly matching his career record earnings in 2007. According to the Website, in categories such as earnings per event, earnings per round and so on, Tiger scored on the order of three-to-four times the amount as his nearest competitors. In other words, while Tiger didn’t play that much — due to his knee injury — when he did play he dominated the field.Now, I ask you why would someone that performs that well want to change his swing? The answer my friends is that I don’t believe he is. “The swing thing” is merely a spin on Tiger’s critical five-inch problem (the one between his ears). I believe he is deeply troubled and embarrassed about what happened in his personal life last Thanksgiving. I don’t think he’s resolved it and I don’t think he’s willing to do what it takes to resolve it. Until he does, keep looking for new excuses for his sub-par performances.A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces last January. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects, which provides planning, designing, permitting and construction monitoring services for golf course projects. You can comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog: