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|Paula Creamer "tweeting" between shots? It's a scenario LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens is suggesting. (Dio Dipasupil/Eclipse Sportswire)|
LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens is open to the idea of tour players "tweeting" at events.
Not between rounds, but between shots.
"I'd love it if players Twittered during the middle of a round," Bivens said in an interview, according to Bloomberg News. "The new media is very important to the growth of golf and we view it as a positive, and a tool to be used."
This is about as bad an idea as the LPGA's mandatory English rule last year. And to the game's traditionalists, it may be just as offensive.
The first issue is whether it's permissible under USGA bylaws. While the rulebook doesn't ban PDAs, it prohibits players from using any technology to their advantage, like a range finder. So if a player starts fiddling on her phone between shots, who's to say she's not getting advice from a coach over e-mail or tips on upcoming pin locations?
Not to mention that these women are supposed to be athletes. If they're on their phones typing away, it doesn't look much different from teenagers at the mall.
Also, professional golf demands extreme mental focus. That focus will not be there if players are mentally drafting their next tweet, and play will suffer.
Much like with the English rule, Bivens' heart is in the right place here. Her execution is just poor.
Players tweeting "Yay!" after birdies won't save the LPGA Tour. Nothing players could possibly tweet will be more enlightening than TV coverage with player audio (the recent improved audio of player-caddie discussions on both tours has been a great success so far).
Bivens rightly acknowledges the importance of social media. The great, democratic thing about the Internet is that it gives everyone a voice. Also, one of the best aspects of the LPGA is the player-fan interactivity. That's partly because galleries at events are smaller. The women also tend to be less uptight than most male professionals.
The LPGA shouldn't worry about Twitter. It looks like many players are on the Tweet-wagon already. What they do need to worry about is finding a TV home that will finally do the LPGA right. Sure, the LPGA gets some network airtime over the weekend, but often their tournaments are tape-delayed and not in high definition - if on TV at all.
The Champions Tour gets more respect on the airwaves, but the LPGA has a better product.
I recommend the tour find a more welcoming cable channel, rather than trying to squeeze into ESPN and network TV's airtime. Versus, a niche sports network, is a perfect fit. The NHL went there as a last resort, and while it suffered for a year or two, ratings are way up because Versus gives the league the attention it deserves.
Like the NHL, the LPGA is somewhere between a mainstream and niche sport. It needs a home that will broadcast events every weekend, in high definition. During many afternoons, Versus often replays old hockey games, cage fights or bull riding, so they're surely starved for more live content.
The LPGA can be TV-friendly for many reasons. For starters, the level of play on the women's tour has never been better or more competitive. Also, since the tour has fewer events and is less lucrative, almost every field has Ochoa, Creamer, Gulbis and Wie in action. That's hardly the case on the PGA Tour. Even a top-flight event like the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club couldn't get Tiger Woods out of hibernation.
Also, these tour ladies just keep getting more photogenic - and HD can capture that quite well.
So instead of calling on Twitter to help the tour, Bivens should pick up the phone and find a cable network willing to give the ladies the airtime and coverage they've long deserved.
June 2, 2009
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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