Opinion: Women’s Golf & Augusta
This is a highly debated subject. Part of me understands why and the other part of me doesn’t understand why this would still be a “debate” in 2019. In my opinion there are a couple factors at play for the state of Women’s Golf in the US and here they are:
Womens golf needs a massive push in the U.S.. I know technically speaking the LPGA Tour’s numbers are improving and the purses have improved drastically from years past. That being said, a huge part of our market is in Asia. About half of our events including ones in the US are sponsored by Asian companies. 7/10 of the women in the top 10 World Rankings are from Asian decent. Now before I go any further, let me start out by saying that the support of women’s golf in Asia is unparalleled and simply amazing. Our galleries in Asia are huge. The financial support we receive from Asian countries speaks for itself. It’s a huge market and I could not be more appreciative of the support and I wish more Western cultures emulated that support. The Asian women on tour have NO DOUBT raised the bar for the competition on Tour in the last 10 years. I can say with impunity that the competition on the LPGA Tour right now is the finest it has ever been. You can no longer go out there and “wing it” and shoot 1 over for 2 days and make a cut. (This was brought up while discussing the new maternity policy on tour but that is for another discussion.) Basically what I am saying is that the Asian market and the Asian players have made our tour better. Period.
HOWEVER. As an American girl and golfer, when I was a little girl I dreamed of playing professional golf in the USA. I was raised to view myself no differently than a boy. There was never a time in our household where my mom and dad told me to pursue my dreams as a professional golfer but that it would be less appreciated than my male counterparts. Fast forward to adulthood, and that is exactly where we are at. A fellow tour player tweeted something asking when we (LPGA players) would be able to play at Augusta. I read the comments and I was honestly baffled. One man said “I’d like to see if they could break par.” Seriously?!? Others said “No way, golf is a gentlemans game.” How are we supposed to grow the women’s game in America when this is how the women’s game is viewed? How can we get more support in the States and have more American sponsorships and U.S based events? My dad taught me something that I have never forgotten and God damn it is true, especially in todays world of Social Media. He told me “It’s not what is, it’s what people think it is.” The American media is so biased it dictates the way the world thinks. They don’t cover women’s golf the way they do men’s golf. Period. What if they did? What if they covered us the same way as they do the men? People would pay more attention and that’s a fact folks. They don’t showcase our American players that are doing well and they barely cover our U.S. events. Please prove me wrong with that statement.
Cue Augusta and the Augusta National Womens Amateur. Holy Moly was that a great event. The asshole who said “I’d like to see if they could break par” clearly didn’t watch the girls play some AMAZING golf on Augusta Saturday in the final round. And please, try to get into an argument with me that they play from different tees so its “not fair”… you will lose. If the women are coming into the greens with the same clubs as the men are, please tell me how that is not fair? The media did a fantasic job covering this event and there is one reason why: Augusta. The winner and the runner up got to be on The Today Show and Jimmy Fallon (when is the last time that happened for an LPGA major winner?) They showed a highlight real of the final round during the Masters broadcast. The ANWA was happening during the same time as golf’s first major, the ANA (formerly the Kraft Nabisco) and no one knew it was even going on. The ANWA completely overshadowed it. All of the sudden, people payed attention and it was HUGE for Womens Golf in the U.S. Bravo to everyone who made that possible and a huge congrats to Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi.. well played ladies. Augusta National is a magical place. It raises the bar and puts no matter who is playing, on the biggest stage possible. THAT is what American Women’s golf needs in order for it to grow in the U.S. A tournament at Augusta and the media support that would come with it would help the Womens game undoubtedly. You want to tell me that it hasn’t helped the mens game? I said that part of me understands why this is a debate and that is because of the ANA (Dinah Shore/Kraft Nabisco.) The ANA is supposed to be our equivalent to the Masters and jumping into Poppy’s Pond is our equivalent to a Green Jacket. It too is a magical place and an event with a ton of history. I wish our ANA and Mission Hills got the same amount of media coverage as The Masters did and maybe we wouldn’t be having this discussion, but we are.
So tell me America, other than some chauvinistic statement, why wouldn’t we have a “Womens Masters” at Augusta? Why wouldn’t the media want to cover more American players and more of our U.S based events? Why wouldn’t you want to grow the game of golf in the U.S.?