What needs to be done to save the Ladies European Tour?August 23, 2017 The Scoop
With no chief executive and tournaments being cancelled left, right and centre, what could be done to turn things round at the LET? The NCG team discuss…
Harriet Shephard: Most people have no idea when the smaller LET events are on or how or where they can watch them, so really it needs to be marketed better and be made to look more exciting and fashionable like the LPGA.
Steve Carroll: Exactly. The LET’s problem is not at their bigger events. It’s drumming up any interest week-to-week. That’s an issue the European Tour also has, to a certain extent.
Dan Murphy: Everyone is pointing the LET towards the European Tour but I have my doubts about the latter. How many genuinely top-class events does it have per season? Certainly none between early February and the end of May, outside of majors and WGCs.
Steve Carroll: So no one tuned in to the Paul Lawrie Match Play?
Alex Perry: No, because the Solheim Cup was on.
Harriet Shephard: Most people probably have no idea when the smaller LET events are on or how or where they can watch them, so really it needs to be marketed better and be made to look more exciting and fashionable like the LPGA.
Mark Townsend: Whenever these chats come up everyone in the entire world wants a mixed competition but it never happens despite there being 52 weeks in the year and golf being played on nearly every one of them.
Alex Perry: Have we all forgotten the PowerPlay Golf?
Harriet Shephard: That didn’t work, but having a mixed event would definitely help things. It would show that women’s golf can be just as entertaining to watch as the men’s. A lot of people still think it’s too slow and boring and would rather just watch the men.
Mark Townsend: Maybe the early part of the season is where they could get together, because after June we’re back in Europe and the European Tour is jam-packed. For the women I find it staggering that each of the home nations isn’t capable of putting on a home Open but we’ve been saying this for about five years.
Dan Murphy: Well, there is neither a Wales nor an England Open currently on the European Tour schedule.
James Savage: A women’s and a men’s event on alternate weeks with a prime time TV slot for each would keep the appetite healthy for both. Do we need a men’s European Tour event every week?
Alex Perry: This also taps in to the European Tour vs. PGA Tour debate. I know if I were good enough, I’d be going to try my hand on the US circuit. And so would you. And so would the ladies.
Harriet Shephard: You shouldn’t have to move to America to have a realistic chance of making it as a pro. Not everyone will be able to do that.
Mark Townsend: Quite a few women now play on the Symetra Tour in the States rather than the LET in an attempt to get the golden ticket to the LPGA.
Alex Perry: Exactly. And we’d all do the same.
Steve Carroll: Wasn’t there a very high profile example of that in the Solheim Cup?
Mark Townsend: Madelene Sagstrom. She won the ‘Battlefield Promotion’ to the 2016 LPGA Tour after three wins on the Symetra. She won the player and rookie of the year, too. Then only played in LET Q School to be eligible for the Solheim Cup. She also won that.
James Savage: The standard at the Solheim Cup was exceptional, and it’s a shame that many of the players have such a low profile.
Alex Perry: Is the LET merging with the European Tour the answer? Or pie in the sky?
James Savage: Is there any tour other than the PGA Tour that the European Tour haven’t already merged with?
Dan Murphy: You do wonder if golf could learn from tennis, where men’s and women’s events take place concurrently at least some of the time. There are clear efficiencies in terms of tournament infrastructure and it is surely more appealing to spectators and TV audiences alike if they can watch men’s and women’s sport at the same time.
Mark Townsend: The US Opens at Pinehurst, in successive weeks, seemed to work a treat. Pre-tournament there were moans and groans about the women getting the raw end of the deal with divots etc. Post-tournament it was all acclaimed a huge success. I was were at Dundonald recently and everything – course and infrastructure – looked tremendous given the men had just been there.
Steve Carroll: Unless the LPGA are going to be putting up the cash, is it really going to have any big impact? The LET appears to be failing because of corporate indifference more than any other factor. It isn’t wanting for players.
Dan Murphy: Imagine if you went the whole hog, though. So the ladies had their first round on Tuesday, the men theirs on Wednesday. Then back to the ladies on Thursday for the second round, the men on Friday then both third rounds could be on Saturday, one after the other, and the same on Sunday. Would be amazing if the logistics could be worked out, wouldn’t it? Massive exposure for golf and an enormous boost for women’s golf.
Alex Perry: It would never work. All it would need is a one-hour rain delay to turn it into more of a logistical nightmare than it already is.
Mark Townsend: The men are a grumpy enough bunch as it is without sitting out a day.
Alex Perry: I’m all for the women’s majors being played on the same course the week after the men’s. Augusta National, meanwhile, would not.
Dan Murphy: I don’t like that as much. Everyone has gone home. You want massive crowds watching the whole thing. I’m not saying it has to be every event every week but it could be made to work. You would choose your venues based on their suitability to host something like this.
Mark Townsend: Half a dozen weeks where there were two courses perhaps?
Dan Murphy: Yes but if that was just what the US Open was then I think they would get on with it. After two years they’d have forgotten what it was like anyway.
Alex Perry: So at a venue with more than one course. How many of them are there with the infrastructure to hold a major?
Mark Townsend: Or have smaller fields and play it as usual with alternate start times?
Dan Murphy: Maybe it’s one for the PGA Championship – the point of difference they are crying out for.