It seems as though the sport of golf is always facing controversy.
We read in the media about golf courses being built in areas that some feel compromise the environment. Some are built on open land with walking paths the public has used for years without objection from the owners until they wish to sell.
The Chinese government decreed playing golf illegal because it provided a place for corrupt officials to coordinate deals. Some courses that were built as a selling feature for subdivisions have closed their doors due to non-sufficient funds.
Of course the most controversial situation occurs when a golf course is ploughed under for development.
Many of these circumstances become a hotbed for discussion. Environmentalists oppose the original construction when plans encroach wetlands, valleys and the local water supply.
Historians march vehemently to protect areas of significance and private land owners are up in arms when their back yard becomes a display of overgrown, tangled weeds if the course is unsuccessful.
One thing I find ironic is when a group opposes construction of new golf course to protect an historic heritage.
After lengthy debate, a compromise is reached and accommodation is provided. Then, years later, when the course is proposed for development, a new group of advocates begin their opposition, stating the whole property is now of historical significance as a golf course.
Another question that comes up for discussion is what constitutes equal pay for equal work?
Recently, for the 15th time, a team of LPGA players competed against a team of Ladies European Tour players for the Solheim Cup.
The event, held in Des Moines, Iowa was won by the Americans 16 ½ to 11 ½.
I always enjoy watching events when the teams are representing their country and supposedly are doing it with no chance of compensation., supposedly because players don’t really play for pride only.
The leader in addressing this problem was David Duval, while representing the USA on the Ryder Cup team.
Duval’s point was simple. The event generates millions in revenue and yet, the players who are highly skilled professionals don’t get paid to perform on a grand stage to do what they usually get paid to do.
The compromise was that funds were allocated in the form of payments to a golf development program or donations to charity in the player’s name.
This year’s controversy in the Solheim Cup came after play was completed through remarks made by Julie Inkster, the American team captain.
Inkster says she’s “irked” by the lack of respect shown to women’s golf, particularly by sponsors tripping over one another to get behind PGA Tour events, while ignoring the LPGA.
First off, I feel badly for women’s golf.
I really enjoy women’s professional golf. Their shot-making skills with fairway shots and their ability to hit so many fairways is astounding. Second, the lady tennis professionals complete for purses equal to their male counterparts. Why?
Why should a female professional golfer be paid proportionately less when a tennis player earns top dollar and why should anybody be embarrassed about it?
Women boxers don’t attract the same huge purses as the men. In fact, even for men, the lighter weight divisions don’t generate the amounts the heavyweights do.
Swimming, gymnastics, dressage and weightlifting are all extremely demanding sports, but they don’t generate the kind of money paid to racing car drivers or soccer players, male or female.
There is only one answer. Television ratings. TV network bosses study their viewing audience determining how much they should pay for the rights to broadcast any event.
They do that knowing their advertisers will pay so much money for a spot to tell the public about their products.
They don’t care what the sport is, who is playing or what the outcome might be. They only care about the number of people who buy their products as a result of seeing promotional advertising on TV during a specific event sports or otherwise. The Super Bowl is the granddaddy of spectacles, as a result.
I’d like to see the LPGA players play for more money, but consumers dictate these purses through their spending habits.
I do think the LPGA has done a great job in the past decade marketing itself, but it could use a little boost in exposure of its sport to the public.
Plus, the major golf organizations are constantly looking for ways to interest people in becoming golfers. One way this could happen is through the televised playing of the Presidents Cup, an event that has never really grabbed public attention, certainly not like the Ryder Cup.
In my opinion, the President’s Cup teams should include an equal number of men and women golfers, perhaps 10 of each. It’s an idea being initiated at the collegiate Arnold Palmer Cup next year and it might go a long way in professional golf.
The matches would be a mix of men vs. men, women vs. women, men/women vs. men/women in best ball, alternate shot, two-player scramble and individual matches.
What better way to promote a male/female atmosphere than give the Presidents Cup a new breath and, I think, attract major sponsors.
There is nothing wrong with the LPGA Tour as a product. The LPGA has come a long way as a marketing entity! It’s entertaining and exciting. It just isn’t high enough on the radar of advertisers.