Road Hole Shorts

Golf Design, golf, golf, GOLF

Then and now: the more things change, the worse they get

By Mary Armstrong/For the Sun-News

Posted: 07/07/2011 09:40:39 PM MDT

 

 

One of those “this day in history” columns happened to catch my eye recently. This one was from the Montreal Gazzette.

On this date (July 4th) 1977, Judy Rankin won an LPGA Major (at the time) and pocketed $13,000. Dave Eichelberger won a “normal” event on the men’s tour for a $26,000 paycheck.

Most people agree that the LPGA has diminished over the years – they don’t have the purses, the players with “name recognition” or the number of events. I’ll never acknowledge that men are conceded No. 1 over the women because “that’s the way it’s supposed to be” – or for any other reason for that matter. However, conceding that is the way it has been in our culture for as long as history has been recorded begs the question: Have things gotten better or worse on the LPGA tour?

 

The fact that Rankin’s winning total was exactly half of Eichelberger’s triggered my inquisitive mind. Last week, Yani Tseng’s winning check was for $375,000 while Fredrik Jacobsen won $1,080,000 at the Traveler’s Championship.

 

Yani got about 35 percent of what Jacobsen did – and she won a major?! Yes, there’s no doubt that the margin of disparity between the LPGA and PGA tours has widened. The real question is why? I’m in the process of a project that I hope will answer or at least shed some light on that question. Stay tuned.

 

Follow up on last week’s quote from Judy Rankin.

 

In the Wegmans LPGA Championship TV Commentator Judy Rankin remarked best on what makes Yani Tseng successful in the

By Mary Armstrong/For the Sun-News

Posted: 07/07/2011 09:40:39 PM MDT

 

One of those “this day in history” columns happened to catch my eye recently. This one was from the Montreal Gazzette.

On this date (July 4th) 1977, Judy Rankin won an LPGA Major (at the time) and pocketed $13,000. Dave Eichelberger won a “normal” event on the men’s tour for a $26,000 paycheck.

Most people agree that the LPGA has diminished over the years – they don’t have the purses, the players with “name recognition” or the number of events. I’ll never acknowledge that men are conceded No. 1 over the women because “that’s the way it’s supposed to be” – or for any other reason for that matter. However, conceding that is the way it has been in our culture for as long as history has been recorded begs the question: Have things gotten better or worse on the LPGA tour?

The fact that Rankin’s winning total was exactly half of Eichelberger’s triggered my inquisitive mind. Last week, Yani Tseng’s winning check was for $375,000 while Fredrik Jacobsen won $1,080,000 at the Traveler’s Championship.

Yani got about 35 percent of what Jacobsen did – and she won a major?! Yes, there’s no doubt that the margin of disparity between the LPGA and PGA tours has widened. The real question is why? I’m in the process of a project that I hope will answer or at least shed some light on that question. Stay tuned.

 Follow up on last week’s quote from Judy Rankin.

In the Wegmans LPGA Championship TV Commentator Judy Rankin remarked best on what makes Yani Tseng successful in the game. “The thing, Yani said, that she does the best in her game is – she has fun.” And, “If you are a parent and you want your young child to play golf and maybe excel at the game – but even just to play the game – I think having fun is the very first component.”

I received several positive comments about the article. There are too many examples of burn-out or worse due to an overbearing parent. Erica Blasberg’s story, which I covered a couple of months ago, was perhaps the most notorious, but there are hundreds if not thousands out there whose names we don’t know because their kids failed to make the big time. Judy Rankin was clearly speaking from the heart as Yani smiled wide. Perhaps her own experience growing up was instrumental in her strong feelings.

Flash back 50 years ago to the summer of 1961. The cover of the Aug. 21st issue of Sports Illustrated was adorned with the picture of Judy Torluemke. The photo of the 16-year-old St. Louis native had the subtitle “The Best Girl Golfer”.

Some would say Judy’s rise to golf celebrity was meteoric. Earlier that summer, Judy played in the Women’s British Amateur. After nearly missing the early-summer event because her family couldn’t afford the trip, a couple of her father’s friends pitched in and she was off to Scotland and the Carnoustie Links (site of the 2012 event as well). After a first-round bye, Judy was outmatched to a 3-down score after 12 holes. She made a gallant comeback, but fell short, losing 1 down on the 18th. Young Judy was disgusted with her play and seemingly had enough of golf, vowing to quit the game.

Two weeks later, a Sports Illustrated editor called to tell Judy (or more likely her father) that they planned to put her photograph on the cover of a future issue, but only if she was planning to play in the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open. However the decision was made, Judy agreed to play in the Open and that’s where the story turns interesting – at least to me.

Now, Judy Torluemke was an accomplished player. By that time she had won countless Peewee golf tournaments and even more girl’s junior events (some before she was old enough to enter). She also had already won the Missouri Women’s Amateur Championship and finished as the low amateur in the 1960 U.S. Women’s Open.

Sometime between the Women’s British Amateur and the release of the SI August 21st issue, Judy Torluemke hit a bump in her road to LPGA stardom. The inaugural Missouri Girls State Amateur Championship was the occasion, as girls from all over the state gathered at Grandview Golf Course in Springfield (later the course name was changed to the Bill and Payne Stewart Golf Course). The field included two particularly promising players. Judy was from St. Louis, the other, from cross-state rival, Kansas City. The two had crossed paths earlier that year, in the Missouri Women’s Amateur, which Judy had won. The Flash from Kansas City wasn’t intimidated though. She shot an opening round of 74. The two played together on the second day when the Kansas City Flash faltered slightly before finishing strongly with an 80 and a three-shot margin over the future LPGA star Judy Torluemke Rankin.

Who was the Flash? A woman I play golf with most every Tuesday morning at Sonoma Ranch Golf Course.

ViAnn Beadle went on to defend her title at the State Junior Championship the following year as well as defeat Joanie Colbert (PGA and Champions tour player Jim’s sister) in the Kansas City Women’s City Golf Championship. Another particularly intriguing aspect of this story is that ViAnn went on to play in the widely heralded Broadmoor Women’s Invitational. Her best finish there was the quarterfinals, where she was defeated by the legendary Judy Bell.

Today, ViAnn and I and the other ladies that play on Tuesday mornings enjoy casual play. Viann has little interest in competitions, but she remains highly competitive in her own realm. Above all, we have fun – strike that, we have a ball! Fifty years, hmm I used to think that was a long time.

 A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces in January 2010. 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: https://roadholeshorts17.wordpress.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

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