More On The Future of the LPGA

Ever since the USGA announced that the 2014 Mens’s and Women’s Opens would be played in back-to-back weeks at Pinehurst, I’ve wondered if a PGA Tour-LPGA merger would make sense. I’ve even tried to think of a way that the two tours could hold concurrent events—perhaps in dual limited field match play events. That would be fun. Creamer-Wie, followed by Woods-Mickelson. A mixed field team event also would be a hoot.

Other than for altruistic reasons, though, I could never figure out why the PGA Tour would want the LPGA. The ladies Tour just doesn’t bring much to the table. It could be argued perhaps, that the merger would offer even greater economies of scale. Or that with a single organization in charge of all professional golf, they would be able to negotiate better television contracts and sponsorships. But I think the deals would be only marginally better—if at all—for the PGA Tour. The LPGA actually could be a bit of a poison pill.

Jim Bohannon, the veteran golf writer, also thinks it doesn’t make much sense.

Yes, there would be big marketing advantages for the women golfers if they hooked up with the men. And some PGA Tour sponsorships could easily bleed into women’s events. The PGA Tour might even flex its muscle and get some better television times for a women’s division.

But the PGA Tour isn’t exactly flush with success these days when it comes to securing corporate sponsorship or maintaining tournaments. If this was 10 years ago, it might have made more sense to united the two tours. Maybe in 10 years the idea will again have merit.

How the LPGA will survive and hopefully thrive in the coming years is a huge question, and being taking over by the PGA Tour isn’t the worst idea floating around out there. But right now the PGA Tour has its own problems to fix. Once it does that, fixing the LPGA Tour might make more sense.

I honestly can’t see the LPGA surviving in its current form as a US focused Tour. It may be better off merging with the European Ladies Tour and the Asian Tours to form the first true World Golf League. The world league that Norman and others talked about a decade ago may finally be realized with the ladies tours out of necessity. The Ladies World Golf Tour could sell sex and location to the television moguls: “the world’s most glamorous golfers in the world’s most glamorous locations.”

If the LWGT scheduled things correctly, the Ladies World Golf Tour would always be live during prime viewing hours in a major market somewhere. They could follow the sun and have tournaments scheduled across the calendar year. “The Sun Never Sets On The LWGT.”

I’d be interested in watching Creamer in France; Wie in South Africa; Ochoa in Japan; Sophie Sandolo anywhere. Intersperse the golf action with some travel footage and throw in some local color features and you’ve got an interesting couple of hours of television.

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