As the US Women’s Open comes to a close, ESPN poses an interesting question: Do the majors mean less in women’s golf?
Annika Sorenstam couldn’t name the all time Majors winner in women’s golf. She thought it was Mickey Wright. The answer is Patty Berg.
Can you imagine a men’s golfer not knowing Jack Nicklaus?
I think an even worse problem may be with the general public. How many can name the four women’s majors? The womens’ US Open and British Open are obvious ones. But did you know there is an LPGA Championship? And who the heck could come up with the Kraft Nabisco as the fourth? (I have a suggestion. Augusta National could do a lot to fix its image as a group of old, white women haters by holding a Ladies Masters.)
There’s also a real lack of “buzz” about women’s golf. If you stopped a hundred people on the street and asked them who Patty Berg or Mickey Wright were, I”ll bet 99 couldn’t tell you. I’d also bet that they couldn’t name the majors, or tell you who the number one ranked women’s golfer is. I scan dozens of newspaper golf headlines each day through my RSS reader and find very little about ladies golf, the LPGA, women’s golf equipment or instruction for lady golfers.
For the LPGA, the problem strikes me as one of public relations—a skill that Commissioner Carolyn Bivens apparently is sadly lacking. Bivens struggles with the press have been well documented. But as a former PR professional, I can tell you that INTERNAL PR is nearly as important as external. If your employees don’t know what’s going on, and what the company line is, how can you expect anyone else to? How can the LPGA players not know whose records they’re supposedly chasing?
As for external PR, the LPGA needs to start working the “new media” Traditional print news outlets—newspapers and magazines—are struggling to maintain their readership. Several recent studies have shown that the internet has passed print for information consumption.
One of the best ways to build “buzz” is to kiss up to bloggers. But Bivens and the LPGA apparently have a policy that denies them press credentials. I can see why the PGA Tour might not; they don’t need it. But the LPGA—as the herald of women’s golf—does. There are hundreds of golf bloggers out there who would love to have media access to LPGA tournaments and who would write gushingly about the ladies tour.
It was when I read about the anti-blogger policy that I generally stopped writing about the LPGA. I had at the beginning of last year made a resolution to write more about that tour. And while I had no intention of ever trying to get press credentials to an LPGA event, it was apparent they don’t like bloggers, so … (on the other hand, I’ve found the PGA Tour and major equipment manufacturers to be quite helpful in my blogging efforts.)
There’s an LPGA event coming to Toldeo in a couple of weeks—the Jamie Farr. As Toledo is just an hour from the spacious GolfBlogger World Headquarters in Ann Arbor, I had a thought about going and writing about my trip (as I did with the PGA Tour’s Buick). But I hate to go places where I’m not wanted.