In the early days of professional golf, across the ocean, a mere handful of competitors faced each other each on a variety of golf courses, each looking to win an “Open” championship, which set in motion the wheels that led to a variety of “tours” around the world, not the least of which is the PGA Tour.
This week, women are playing in Phoenix in honour of the 13 founders who in 1950 began a barnstorming, nomadic life that was unconventional in that era. Instead of homemaking, they became the LPGA.
Recently, these two entities entered into what they are calling a “strategic alliance.”
In “formalizing their longstanding cooperative relationship” to promote the growth of golf,” there is no transfer of ownership or control and there is no formal financial investment involved in the new agreement.
Both parties remain wholly separate and independent organizations.
The tours report the alliance will help with coordinating schedules and with joint marketing, domestic television and digital media strategies”. Further, the PGA and LPGA Tours also will be “exploring the potential development of joint events.”
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said, “Our two organizations have had a long history of working together for the common good of our sport. Extending our relationship with the LPGA into these new areas is a natural extension of this work and collaboration.”
In my opinion, the only thing that can come of this new agreement will be good.
The PGA Tour operates/manages five men’s tours around the world and is the single most influential entity on the exposure of golf to the masses.
It’s long overdue that the LPGA Tour join the professional golf family to help market their products.
When you evaluate the accomplishments of the LPGA they have attracted the finest female players in the world who play at the highest standard. Their events provide excellent value for sponsors and patrons and they played the only true global tour before anyone else, including the PGA Tour.
There will be many obstacles to hurdle if the new agreement leads to events showcasing the two partners on the same course at the same time and/or with the two fields combining?
Critics will complain that course owners can’t give-up their sites for three or even four weeks to play events back-to-back with one group the first week followed the second group in week two.
Some archaic thinkers will bemoan that they don’t want to watch the ladies play at the same time, but what if one of these mega-tournaments were to be played on a 36 hole facility with the women on one course and men on the other?
Why not let the market and the course owners decide?
Maybe the struggling Presidents Cup would benefit from a mixed field and while we are at it why not expand the field to include some representatives from the Champions Tour with 24-player teams?
Imagine an alternate shot format with a male and a female partnering or Champion Tour player and a PGA Tour player best-ball or a match play scramble featuring one PGA Tour, one LPGA Tour and one Champions Tour Player against an opposing team made up of the same combination of male, female and over-50 players (of course, all would be from their appropriate tees).
The PGA Tour has more than adequate funding to allow some experimentation, the likes of which we have never seen before.
It is incumbent on both groups to work together spreading the news that golf is healthy and strong. The benefits of playing the game provide an excellent lifestyle for both genders and all ages.
Also in the works is a joint agreement between the European Tour and the Asian Tour. At one point, it appeared as though the Asian Tour was working toward an alliance with the PGA Tour, but the players were concerned about a loss of identity.
They became leery when the Ladies Golf Union decided to come under the umbrella of the R&A and lost their LGU initials.
Now, it seems the players welcome combining their assets with the European Tour to enhance their careers and help develop opportunities, both for themselves and those with aspirations in the future.
According to the European Tour chief executive, Canadian Keith Pelley, that toir is a global entity and presents a viable alternative to the PGA Tour. He is working toward bigger purses and more streamlined order to the sequence of events.
He also declares he can only act in a way supported by all his members. Given the increasing viewership of European Tour events, it seems as though they may have some strong points to consider.
One thing is for sure. As a fan of professional golf, it will be similar to being a judge at a cook-off for Master Chefs. How can you lose?
Let the games begin.