Leading the LPGA Tour into golf prosperity will be a huge undertaking
So we got the formal announcement on Monday that Carolyn Bivens is out as the commissioner of the LPGA, and Marsha Evans, a retired Navy rear admiral, is in as interim commissioner.
Evans, who has also led the Girl Scouts of USA and the American Red Cross, sure seems well qualified and smart ? so smart, in fact, that she has already said she does not want the job permanently.
At first glance, who would? After all the LPGA has lost seven tournaments since 2007, and American golf fans can’t even pronounce the names of many of the dominant players on the LPGA Tour.
Bivens recognized that, but drew up a disaster of a solution when she proposed an English-only policy, no doubt aimed at the South Korean players who keep winning over here but can’t or won’t communicate in English with the media.
Unfortunately, what’s lost is that there’s some pretty golf being played on the LPGA Tour. Sunday’s finish at the U.S. Women’s Open at Saucon Valley was great theater. Korean Eun-Hee Ji birdied three of her final six holes, including a money 20-footer on the final hole for birdie, to take the crown. Sadly, most golf fans don’t even know who she is, nor did they care.
The LPGA is definitely suffering an identify crisis. Choosing someone like Nancy Lopez would make sense in that regard. But as Evans said in an Associated Press story today, “I think we need someone with new energy who can bring passion and skills and experience.”
The LPGA also needs to do something drastically different. What, I don’t know, but what’s going on now certainly isn’t working in this economy.
Professional bowling, which was one of the highest rated sports on TV back in the 1960s and ’70s, nearly went away for good through its complacency until it was reinvented in the last decade. It’s not back to where it was, but it’s doing a lot better since the Professional Bowling Association started taking chances by making the game a lot more fan interactive.
Perhaps the LPGA could learn a little from that. It can’t follow the PGA Tour model and expect to survive on table scraps.
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