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LPGA takes the lead in steroid testing

Kristen By Kristen "Golf Chick" Williams,
Lorena Ochoa - LPGA championship
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Beginning in 2008, the LPGA won't have to face questions as to whether its players are clean. Can the PGA Tour say the same? (Chris Baldwin/WorldGolf.com)

The best thing to enhance one's performance in golf hasn't been invented yet. It'll be some kind of chip implant or alteration to the brain to reduce distraction and augment the ability to focus. Mark my words. Pinky and the Brain are probably working on it as you read this.

Meanwhile, amateur and professional golfers alike are striving more and more to achieve better performance through fitness. It's one of the fastest growing sub-industries of golf. Okay, so I don't have any facts or statistics to back that up. However, almost every golf-related publication and organization I see is doing something to promote a product or philosophy of fitness for golf. That's enough proof for me.

Flexibility and strength are two things golfers can work on to enhance their golf games that don't necessarily involve a trip to the course or the range. People are interested in fitness anyway so it's a relatively easy sell for golf fitness marketers: You want to stay in shape or improve your physique anyway - why not work on your golf game while you're at it?

That's all fine and good for us amateurs, but on the PGA or LPGA Tours where big purses are on the line, is it enough? Oh, they can hire personal trainers and the best golf fitness gurus money can buy. They golf for a living so going to the gym is all part of a day's work if they really put in a full day. But as generations keep getting stronger and equipment keeps getting longer, is there temptation on the Tours to seek out a little pharmaceutical assistance?

The LPGA want to make sure there isn't. The PGA Tour honchos, ever the pertinacious traditionalists, are willing to trust the integrity of the players in this game of honor. Isn't it just like women to be more suspicious progressive and catty proactive?

The PGA is arguably more competitive and has far more money on the line than the LPGA, so one might think they have more reason to be tempted. But before I go off on a rant, let's look at why the LPGA may really be the more fitting organization to initiate drug testing.

Some might think steroids can't help a golfer's game that much, that strength just isn't that important in golf. In fact, I'm a huge proponent of the idea that the mental game is the absolute most important aspect of any golfer's ability to succeed. A psychologist might tell you that the difference in the wiring of men's and women's brains makes the difference in the short game.

Hootie Johnson might colorfully paraphrase that and say that a girl's flighty nature will never allow her to play as well as a man around the greens (in my mind he's wearing a green Member's Only jacket circa 1983 sitting at a bar at some random muni desperately trying to get someone to listen - but I digress).

Having said all that, what's the biggest perceived difference between men's and women's game play? Distance. Power. Period. Plus, it's sexier than the mental game. Chicks dig length and guys envy it.

The point is the ladies can make up a whole lot of ground on the men and literally distance themselves from their contemporaries if they can just get stronger. Swing speed and coil may be the greatest influencing factors in yardage achieved, but what causes men to have such faster swing speeds and more power to their coil? Isn't it their strength and general physical makeup?

I said earlier that the PGA Tour is arguably more competitive than the LPGA. By that I only meant with regard to the ability of the field. Actually, I think women are inherently more competitive than men. Perhaps that's why some women want to play on the PGA Tour - they want to have the opportunity to compete with and even best the best. Guys might appear to have the competitive market cornered what with all their sports spectating, fanatic rooting skills and blustery smack talk, but women are just more reserved in how they express that competitive feeling, shopping-related catfights notwithstanding.

We let it brew inside, growing stronger and developing strategies until we make our move. Carolyn Bivens knows this. And the LPGA will start testing for steroids in 2008.

A woman relatively new to golf and known for her wit and dedication to her rapidly improving game, Kristen "Golf Chick" Williams has won fans for her blog and WorldGolf.com golf course reviews. She pens her golf articles from her home in Southern California.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • LPGA and drug testing

    LP( for short) wrote on: Feb 2, 2007

    Hey Chick,
    They better start testing for height inducing drugs too. It's a huge contributor to higher swing speeds, thus more length, for men.
    No envy
    PS: You should collaborate with Tee Time Girl on a new book, by Kallis Chick.