By Laura Pappano
All these years we’ve been pretending to watch the game. But now we know: The PGA Tour has not really been about golf. It has been about Tiger.
By contrast, the LPGA is – even with the extra ratings bump of Michelle Wie – all about the play. This year featured 20 different tournament winners and a Rolex Player of the Year race that went down to the wire (Lorena Ochoa took it). And don’t forget the infectious fun at the Solheim Cup (note: this sort of format could be the future of the sport…!)
The LPGA, much belittled earlier this year for being in disarray, has scraped together 24 official money events in 10 countries for 2010 (note the global marketing approach) and topped it off with the announcement last month that Wegman’s (yes, a regional supermarket chain – the personal, community connection piece) would sponsor the LPGA Tour Championship at Locust Hill in Rochester, NY, June 21-27.
Like the thinking that dominated Wall Street before The Fall, the PGA’s view of itself may have been, well, exaggerated. Golf is not the NFL. But it is a terrific sport that a lot of people play for recreation (as opposed to football). But without Tiger (and do we want him now?), the PGA simply does not have the status and national sponsor appeal that it once did.
But that’s really okay – and may even be an opportunity. This may be just the moment for the PGA and LPGA to announce several coed, team-play events. A Ryder Cup, mixed?
Who says men and women can’t play golf together – and make it more compelling (and better sponsored) than a Tigerless PGA?