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.