Monday, March 21, 2011

Why the LPGA is so great

We always try to impress upon our readers the fact that watching the LPGA is much more beneficial especially from a fan standpoint, i.e., the fans are much more appreciated. So here's a most applicable example from Sunday's play.

On the tee of the 14th hole, a 168-yard par 3, Morgan Pressel and her fellow competitor Kyeong Bae had about a ten minute wait. Pressel's caddy was hungry and asked if they was anything in the bag to eat. Pressel looked but could only discover a small health bar of some kind Hardly enough to sustain her man on her bag.

Right then three young girls ages 11, 11 and 6, came to the edge of the ropes and caught Pressel's eye. She immediately struck up a conversation with the girls asking if they had anything to eat for her caddy. The answer, of course, was shyly spoken, “No.”

Realizing they were a bit shy Pressel continued, “Are you all golfers.”?

With a couple of positive head shakes and a softly spoken, “Yes,” Pressel got the message.

The girls' Mom then appeared. “Tell her your name.”

“Morgan,” was the gentle and fateful reply. Pressel smiled and and asked the names of the other girls.

“Lauren,” was the reply from one.

“That's one of my best friend's names,” returned Pressel.

“I know. It's on your sleeve,” observed Miss Lauren quickly noticing the Ralph Lauren name.

“Very observant,” smiled Pressel.

Pressel then dug through the bag and found three gloves. Meticulously she placed each glove on her hand and wrote. The young ladies, we expect, had no idea what was to transpire.

It was Pressel's time to play. She switched to her game face and rifled an iron to fifteen feet. Bae hit her shot onto the green at which point Pressel handed each girl a glove personally autographed. To the young lady named Morgan she wrote, “Morgan, nice name.”

Walking down the fifteenth fairway all three girls were wearing their gloves.

There are many special moments in the life of a golf tournament that most often are not reported. This one marks why the LPGA is so great.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ladies Links Fore Golf Magazine

One of the spillover benefits of any professional golf tournament is the sideshow attractions. In a way it may sometimes have the feel of a circus – not in a calamity sense but more like a curiosity seeker. For a passionate golfer or a golf nut this is always an area for fun and exploration. The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup has provided us with a small city block for discovery.

Within this sphere of exploration we have discovered a most classy magazine dedicated to and focused on the women golfers of the world - Ladies Links Fore Golf Magazine. The magazine is the brainchild of several LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals who sought to fill a void that was created when Golf for Women passed on to the great 18 holes in the sky. Its singular purpose is to provide a written and virtual meeting place for all women golfers.

Each issue contains articles and interviews on all aspects of the game – personalities, instruction, fashion & gear, and fitness & health. It is fashionable and elegant, filling a valuable niche in the world of women's golf.

Affectionately billed as LL4G, it is the Official Online Amateur Golf Community of the LPGA and the website is worth a visit to get a feel for the quality of this magazine –

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Walking with the legends

One would hope that the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup would spur a renewed interest in the history and tradition of the game and not just the LPGA Tour but also the PGA Tour and the game in general. That, of course, has yet to been seen. There is no golf soothsayer to give us a vision of the future. But what we must do is remember the past with a view towards guiding us into the future.

So with yesterday's exhibition match featuring Betsy King, Patty Sheehan and Nancy Lopez and a legendary spectator named Pat Bradley, the past became the present once again reminding us why we love the LPGA.

So here's just a few highlights noted from walking with the legends.

When the ladies arrived on the 15th tee box, one of the original thirteen founders showed up to observe the action. When Sheehan spotted Shirley Spork she immediately brought her to the tee and introduced her to the lucky crowd. The ovation and appreciation was three times the size of the gallery.

Then on the 16th tee Founder Marilynn Smith appeared. Sheehan didn't pass on this opportunity either. She took hold of Smith's arm and guided her to the tee and introduced her to the crowd also.

We're not sure many people noticed this moment, but as Brittany Lincicome was playing #11 the Legends were playing the parallel 16th. Obviously hearing the commotion, Lincicome came to the top of the rise separating the two holes, observed the scene and smiled graciously. On a mystical note, Lincicome was rewarded for honoring the “golf gods” with a fine score of 67 (-5) for the day.

Sheehan also showed us that these gals can still play with a birdie on #16 with a 30-foot putt. The putt followed a wedge from a distance of 106 yards in a fairway bunker with the ball sitting about one foot from the lip.

Sheehan and King are both still using putters from their days of great play on the LPGA Tour. King's Bullseye and Sheehan's 8802 both have birthdays dating back to the early 1970's.

Yes, this exhibition was designed quite efficiently. It was a perfect fit for the theme of the event. And even though it may have been an admiration society, it was a mutual admiration society.

A congrats to Mr. Whan

In the symphony that is a professional golf tournament there must be a particular theme. You know, a certain ambiance or reason-for-being. Well, it appears that Michael Whan, LPGA Commissioner for just over a year now, has struck the perfect note with the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. The event was conceived for two primary reasons: one, to get an LPGA event back to the Phoenix area after missing 2010; and two, to create an event that actually honors the Founders and history of the LPGA.

Well, Mr. Whan, congrats. While you may be just putting the first notes on this piece of music, we can already hear the drums and violins blending to a crescendo.

Let's put aside the fact that there is no real “purse” for the event although the LPGA is cooking the books a bit by counting money that would have been won on the official money list. The real story of this tournament is history. Every player that participates, every volunteer that lends his or her time, every fan that comes to watch and every scribe that punches a keyboard should reflect first on the history of the LPGA and what it means to the game.

With the Founders Cup we are presented with the thirteen founders of the LPGA. There is a “Walk of Fame” - individual pictures of each of the founders - directly in the path of every player and spectator. Then there is the presence of three founders still with us today – Shirley Spork, Marilyn Smith and Louise Suggs – ever present and mingling with the fans.

And then there was an exhibition match with Betsy King, Patty Sheehan and Nancy Lopez. Pat Bradley who was also scheduled to play but withdrew with an injury walked the 18 holes with her contemporaries. The group played a full round constantly interacting with the crowds which were plentiful. If these names sound familiar to you, they should. They are the second generation of LPGA greats who continued what the founders started.

And then there is the tournament itself – the present and the future of the game. Those of us the love the LPGA can only hope that the tournament itself produces founders of a different sort leaning toward a bright and shining future.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Field set for RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup

The field has been set for the inaugural edition of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. There's 134 players who will be playing for the charity of their choice. The field was brought to completion on Tuesday with an 18-hole qualifying round. Added to the competition were Haru Nomura and Amelia Lewis who captured the final spot with a par on the fourth playoff hole.
So here we are, the first RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. And here's a few fun facts about the field.

Four of the top ten players in the Rolex World Rankings will be present: Yani Seng (#1), Jiyai Shin (#2), Christie Kerr (#5), and Karrie Webb (#10). The lone American in the top ten not competing is Michelle Wie (curious). Outside the top ten but most interesting to watch is Paula Creamer – elegant and gritty. And don't pass up the chance to see the great veterans Julie Inkster and Laura Davies – a bit of LPGA walking history.

Just so you don't get the plays confused, there is one Han and one Hanna, one Hill and one Hull, but there are two Hurst's. And then there are two Kang's but only one Lang and one Yang. There's two more Oh's, two Park's but only Pak and two Shin's.

But it gets more complicated when you consider the seven Kim's and five Lee's. And if you attend you'll see three Song's.

And be sure to buy and program and pay attention to the walking scoreboards.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup gets new trophy

It is fitting, of course, for an inaugural event to get a brand new trophy. Every golf tournament needs to have a trophy go to the winner – even if there is no check to go along with it. So the LPGA can feel good in the fact that the winner of this year's inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup will receive a new and perpetual trophy. The new trophy was announced and unveiled yesterday.

Since it is the “Founders Cup,” the trophy has been modeled after the LPGA logo. To this we say – brilliant. Nothing could be more appropriate. LPGA – LPGA Founders Cup – LPGA logo – Get it?

The perpetual trophy, created by renowned artist and sculptor Malcolm DeMille, is an impressive three-dimensional replica of the LPGA logo, symbolizing the association rich in history. The RR Donnelley Founders Cup Trophy, cast in bronze and polished with highlights to emphasize the logo, stands nearly 20 inches tall.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

LPGA returns to Phoenix

The LPGA returns to Phoenix this week after a one year hiatus. The event is the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup to be played at the Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

The tournament is a touch quirky in that there is no real “purse” for which the players will be competing. Rather, well, let me give you the words of the LPGA for an accurate explanation taken straight from this link

The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup is a one-of-a-kind event that will honor the past, celebrate and showcase the present and provide for the future of the game. Come Sunday, $500,000 will be donated to the LPGA Foundation and its LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program, and another $500,000 to player-designated charities. The $500,000 allotted for player-designated charities is a pool which will be distributed to the top-10 finishers with the following breakdown: 1st: $200,000; 2nd: $100,000; 3rd: $55,000; 4th: 40,000; 5th: $30,000; 6th: $25,000; 7th: $20,000; 8th: $15,000, 9th: $10,000; 10th: $5,000.

While LPGA players will forgo tournament earnings in favor of charity, results at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup will impact the 2011 LPGA Official Money List. Players also will earn points towards Rolex Player of the Year, Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, Rolex Rankings and U.S. Solheim Cup team. Scores posted also will count towards the prestigious Vare Trophy.

Now we really have little interest in all the money stuff, although we're sure that's not the case with the competitors. Nevertheless, the concept of having a Founders Cup is a marketing stroke of genius. And that's why the LPGA hired Michael Whan a little more than a year ago – for his marketing background.

He's taking a giant step in the right direction here.