Possible PGA-LPGA Future Deal?
By mustang6560 on 3/16/11
After I just posted a story on the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, bducharm sends us a link about a possible PGA takeover of the LPGA (what a guy that bducharm!).

Historically, the ladies of the LPGA Tour have been against a merger with the PGA Tour because they were afraid the LPGA would be overshadowed. But with a new generation of female golfers has revamped the discussion.
Recent conversations with several prominent players from the generation that opposed becoming part of the PGA Tour revealed that their hard-line position has softened. They now see the enormous benefits the LPGA could reap from a relationship with the PGA Tour, not the least of which would be keeping the U.S.-based tour from being absorbed by the women's tours in Asia. Also, they say, the decreasing number of full-field events -- there are only 10 full-field non-majors this year, including the Founders Cup with no prize money -- shuts out second-tier players, something they say will hurt the growth of women's golf and the tour.
It's no secret the current business model of the LPGA is struggling. Attendance is down, sponsorships aren't easy to come by and nearly half of the sanctioned tournaments are not on American soil. And now seems to be like a good time to talk "merger" because the current TV contracts for the PGA Tour expire next year.

If the LPGA Tour did come under control of the PGA Tour, it could potentially benefit both tours. The LPGA would benefit from obvious reasons and it gives the PGA Tour an opportunity to change things up a bit. I think it would be cool to see some of golf's biggest male and female golf stars tee it up together in a best ball tournament. Another idea cited in the article was having both tours play the same course and alternate male and female groups.

I think there is great potential for this to work. But, if they do merge, I would not want to see a "battle of the sexes" tournament. To me, this is an overplayed theme and the women always come out on top because the men are put at a disadvantage. The men have nothing to gain and everything to lose.



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[ comments ]
nickmomrik says:
I would watch more women's golf on TV and would love to see a best ball like you suggest. I don't enjoy watching many women's sports, but I do enjoy watching quality golf, no matter who is playing.
3/16/11
 
Birdwell49 says:
If you think the big boys of the PGA Tour stay away from small market events now, just wait until a mixed-field event becomes reality. I don't see Tiger, Phil, McDowell, Johnson, or Mahan stumbling over themselves to play a tournament with Christina Kim or Ai Miyazato. Instead you're likely to get Brett Quigley paired up with Karen Stupples. Nice
And can you imagine what the gallery talk would be if Tiger were paired Anna Rawson?
The LPGA hasn't and wont compete on equal footing with the PGA Tour. If they're looking for stability, they should look at the Hooters Tour or EGolf Tour. Small, local markets with more affordable sponsorships are about the only way they will survive in America.
3/16/11
 
JTW1 says:
This would be great for the LPGA, I would love to see men and women paired together to play against other men and women pairings. Something like PGA #1 and LPGA #1 paired together and so on. Or something like a draft pick, or one year the men pick their partner and the next the women pick.
There is a lot of potential there that could make a lot of money.
Just thinking out loud.
3/16/11
 
brian575 says:
I really like the every other group idea. That way you do not have women pairing up with the men so each group hits from the same tee boxes. I think this idea would work best for limited field events that happen once or twice a year, like the WGC that we just witnessed. Or maybe the tour championship being played this way for both the women and men.
3/16/11
 
bducharm says:
That bducharm IS quite a guy!!! LOL - ALWAYS thinking of my fellow oobers...
3/16/11
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
I'm looking beyond the event possibilities; IMHO the LPGA needs to merge with the PGA Tour just to *survive*. The PGA Tour's marketing strength, client relationship muscle, and perhaps more importantly the television negotiating power and possibilities far out-strap the capabilities of the LPGA right now.

I suspect that such an arrangement can be done without gutting the LPGA's relative autonomy. But it has to happen this year, or the LPGA as an organization might be done. Arena football had more visibility on NBC Sports, and they went under.

"Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out."
— John Wooden (1910-2010), legendary basketball coach
3/16/11
 
cjgiant says:
Could there be a possibility for the LPGA on those weeks where they might have lost a sponsorship doing a Wed-Fri tourney with the PGA (even stating it I gotta think the course is too crowded, but I will suspend my disbelief for a second)...

Thursday and Friday rounds might get a little more attendance to to see the final rounds of the LPGA (played separately) as well as the initial rounds of the PGA tour event. On those weeks the LPGA has solid sponsors, they simply play as normal.

Okay - this seems mostly infeasible when I truly analyze it, but maybe, just maybe, there is a spark of something someone can roll with.
3/16/11
 
coojofresh says:
who cares?
3/17/11
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
@CJGiant, I like where you're going with that thought. The LPGA has experienced far too many "dead weeks" over the last few years.

Consider that the USGA will host the 2014 men's and women's U.S. Open championships at Pinehurst #2 on consecutive weekends. IMHO a similar arrangement should be feasible at several PGA Tour stops, and some of the courses might appreciate the extra traffic and revenue. I hope Commissioner Finchem and the LPGA players' advisory board can work out something acceptable; not having the LPGA is a very bad scenario.
3/17/11
 
bkuehn1952 says:
What women's sport is successful? Tennis. No other women's sport generates the kind of success found in tennis. Undoubtedly the LPGA has looked at how tennis has managed to succeed. Their formula involves a single professional tour that globe trots around the world. Tennis majors bring together the men and the women, who compete at the same time and at the same venue.

If women's professional golf is going to prosper, they may need to look at merging the various women's tours in Europe, Japan, etc... There do not appear to be enough sponsors to expect 30-35 USA-based tournaments a year unless the LPGA is willing to go to much smaller markets and play for much smaller purses.
3/17/11
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
*Excellent* points, Brian, especially on tennis. And while I don't see a merging of the men's tours, the opposite may be true with the LPGA -- a unified women's world tour would be easier to market, although I worry that it would shut out up-and-coming players. Perhaps the LPGA Futures Tour would benefit from a similar arrangement?

I cannot criticize Lorena Ochoa for retiring early, but this is a time when the LPGA badly, badly needs her, even in an occasional capacity. She's a gem-and-a-half.
3/17/11
 
wrhall02 says:
Agree about Lorena, she was a global draw for the LPGA. Sadly, the current dominance of Asian players is not having mass market appeal. Lorena seemed to bridge all cultures, and most importantly draw the interest of the younger crowd. I am betting once she has a couple of kids, she will start to play again. She may never dominate again (ala Julie Inkster), but she will always draw attention.

I too like the tennis analogy. Combine the ladies tour into a global tour. Play the same venues as the PGA majors. I would like to see the setups at the Majors for the ladies, their setup would be far more realistic for hacks like me.
3/17/11
 
preny says:
having a mixed-team event would be fun to see
3/18/11
 
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