A bright LPGA future (with the right promotion)

mulligan, 31 August 2005, Comments Off on A bright LPGA future (with the right promotion)
Categories: Uncategorized

After spending four days closely following the LPGA at the Wendy’s Championship, I promised in this post to set out some reflections on the LPGA Tour and ESPN’s coverage. Here goes:

1. The future for the LPGA is bright primarily because of a developing Big 5 of American women’s golf (listed here in alphabetical order): Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Christie Kerr, Morgan Pressell and Michelle Wie. Each of these five women have already accomplished a lot, and only Kerr (at the ripe old age of 27) is older than 22. All five have interesting personalities, and they also all have a physical appearance that will appeal to fans. (Everyone must candidly recognize that the attractiveness of certain athletes play a big role in their popularity, especially for individual sports and for women’s sports. Consider in the golf arena that even Nicklaus became more popular when his shed some pounds and his early “Fat Jack” nickname.)

2. The LPGA and its players should seek, in various ways, to “mix” with the PGA and its players. The PGA and especially the LPGA should benefit from the overall promotion of professional golf, and inter-gender golf stories draw interest from all quarters. The friendly rivalry between Annika and Tiger over the number of majors won is a great story. The LPGA should encourage famous male golfers to attend next week’s Solheim Cup (Jack? Arnie? Tiger? the US captains for the upcoming President’s Cup and Ryder Cup?). Similarly, the top female golfers should make plans to attend the upcoming President’s Cup. And, as some commentors to prior posts have astutely suggested, the upcoming “silly season” events ought to consider combining the top men and women golfers. (I am already getting excited imagining a Sergio/Natalie team taking on Adam Scott and Paula Creamer.)

3. ESPN, the Golf Channel and other major media should understand points 1 and 2 and adjust accordingly. Paula Creamer is already an historic figure: the youngest woman to win an LPGA event in 50 years, the first rookie to earn a spot on the Solheim team, and as a rookie she is #2 (and the top American) on the LPGA money list. And yet, despite the fact that she was leading the Wendy’s tournament going into the final round, ESPN’s TV coverage of the event on Sunday went a full 20 minutes before showing her hit a shot! Similarly, Morgan Pressell, the reigning US Women’s Amateur champ with a personality as big as her golf game, was in the field at the Wendy’s and made a great showing, and yet I do not think her name was even mentioned during Sunday’s ESPN coverage. The LPGA, to its great credit, right now has a picture of Creamer and Gulbis at the top of its home page, and I hope the tradition golf media soon starts to zero in on the big brewing LPGA upside.


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