January 24, 2003

Annika Sorenstam to enter a men's PGA event?: Before you pooh-pooh it outright, peep this: "Fans of statistics as a measuring stick should note that the 5- foot-6, 150-pound (est.) Sorenstam's 2002 final driving- distance average of 265.6 yards would rank her only five yards behind Jose-Maria Olazabal and 7 1/2 yards ahead of Corey Pavin albeit right at the bottom of the PGA rankings. Her driving accuracy, the ace up her sleeve, would rank second at .803, while her greens in regulation (expected to drop on longer courses) would be tops among men, well ahead of Tiger Woods." Bobby Riggs redux? Does she have a chance on any given Thursday through Sunday? Personally, I'd like to see her go through Q school first, and if she qualifies she should get to play the Men's Tour.

posted by vito90 to golf at 08:42 AM - 20 comments

Go for it. After Hayley Wickenheiser started playing with the men, I figured this would be the next step. I just hope that if she does poorly that people don't immediately jump all over it to trumpet the "men are better than women" platform. Whenever she does play (and I hope it's in the Canadian Open, which is 2 hours away), the pressure would be phenomenal, and I'm not sure if there are too many men OR women who can handle that. But if she does well, I see no reason why she shouldn't go through the Q-school and get her PGA card.

posted by grum@work at 09:15 AM on January 24, 2003

How about demolishing the distinction between men and women's golf? One single organization with all the same rules. If you meet the requirements, you're in.

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:31 AM on January 24, 2003

Demolishing the distinction would knock a lot of LPGA members -- and their events -- out of professional golf. What's the benefit of that? As for Sorenstam, sponsors get exemptions they can give to invite players who would not qualify otherwise. I don't see why she should go to Q school just to play a few men's events, when she's clearly talented enough to compete in them.

posted by rcade at 09:36 AM on January 24, 2003

Well rcade, it's not *clear* that she can compete with them until she goes out and does it. Talent wise, sure, she has as much talent as them but out there shooting 72 holes who knows if she can stay with them. I think a sponsors exemtion for a non-major tourney or two is okay, but she would have to qualify to be allowed to play a full schedule

posted by vito90 at 09:49 AM on January 24, 2003

What if a man wanted to get on the LPGA tour? It should swing both ways.

posted by corpse at 10:45 AM on January 24, 2003

This shouldn't happen. There's a reason that there are two separate leagues. Maybe once a year there could be some sort of tournament in which the best men, women, werewolves, and canteloupes in golf can all compete on the same platform, but otherwise let's keep them separate. If the best women in golf play in the men's leagues, it will kill women's golf (as rcade said). The only way to allow this sort of thing is to eliminate the men's and women's leagues and establish a tier I (men's rules) and tier II (women's rules) leagues, which is just plain silly.

posted by Samsonov14 at 11:04 AM on January 24, 2003

I don't think it would demolish the women's game. There are something like 150 golfers with A-list tourcards. How many women can beat the top 150? MAYBE Sorenstam and a few others? But then how much money are they likely to win on the tour? If there was a rule that said a qualified woman had to choose between the tours, she would likely choose the LPGA (because the best woman will win millions in the LPGA and little in the PGA, as well as having a chance to win the majors which would be very umlikely in the PGA). And again, they would have to go through Q School which separates the wheat from the chaff in a more cruelly efficient manner than any other pro sport.

posted by vito90 at 11:32 AM on January 24, 2003

Damn - I hate to dominate my own thread - but remember any woman who didn't win a major or stay in the top 150 money winners would have to go through Q School again the following year. Most, if not all, would say "No thanks"

posted by vito90 at 11:33 AM on January 24, 2003

Exactly how would demolishing the distinction between men's and women's requirements destroy the women's game?

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:02 PM on January 24, 2003

WC2002 Ė If the best womenís players are playing in the menís league, whoís going to want to watch the players that couldnít make the cut? No one pays much attention to Arena Football, because all the best are already playing in the NFL. If no one's watching, no sponsors pay, prizes are reduced, etc... See where Iím going here?

posted by Samsonov14 at 01:39 PM on January 24, 2003

Arena Football is a bad example -- it has found a niche for itself, averaging 10,000 fans at each game and growing to the point that franchises sell for as much as $12 million. Even if the best female golfers went to the PGA, the LPGA could still find an audience.

posted by rcade at 03:16 PM on January 24, 2003

Rcade, Arena football franchises may sell for more than 12 mil, but Curtis Martin alone made more than that last year. I think that what Iím trying to say here is that Arena football is recognized as a lesser league when compared to the NFL, just like the AHL is to the NHL, or the A league is to MLB. As a result, they get less sponsor money and have lower salaries, etc. Right now, the WPGA is regarded as a different league than the PGA, because the players canít move up or down. If itís recognized that the WPGA is a lesser league, and players can graduate into a better league, I think youíll see a decline in interest in the WPGA.

posted by Samsonov14 at 03:42 PM on January 24, 2003

corpse asks, "What if a man wanted to get on the LPGA tour?" I think that's a valid question. The obvious response would be "Um, I don't think so." But why? Because most people would feel that the man would have an unfair advantage. But why? Here's where it gets sticky. We are essentially saying that men are better than women. That if an outstanding woman golfer wants to play against the best golfers, she should golf with men. If Annika is good enough to play against men (again, read the subtext) then shouldn't we believe that other women could raise their game to that level? Instead of seeking "better" competition among the boys, the competition around her could rise to the level of Annika. And then one day we might say that LPGA is comparable to the PGA. (Of course, we cannot overlook the fact that men are built differently than women and, indeed, often have a physical advantage when it comes to sport.) The Williams' sisters are challenging the women around them to raise their level of tennis. If they do, the gap between men and women's tennis would no doubt decrease (if ever so slightly).

posted by jacknose at 09:36 PM on January 24, 2003

I think the only men that would want to play on the LPGA are the ones on the cusp of getting on the PGA tour, guys that just can't quite hack it, so maybe they would try to make some cash in the women's leauge. Or they might just be too proud of embarassed to do that.

posted by corpse at 09:33 AM on January 25, 2003

jacknose: Your comment hits directly at the assumptions my question was awkwardly trying to identify. I think there are a lot of unspoken assumptions underpinning the separation of women and men in golf, that need to be stated, then debated, and validated by evidence. I'm most interested in seeing if these assumptions may indeed be invalid, perhaps just outdated, due to new social mores, education, nutrition and technology. What are these assumptions? Let's state them and place arguments and evidence behind them.

posted by worldcup2002 at 06:05 PM on January 25, 2003

Purely in the context of professional golf: Why should women be separate from men? Assumption 1. Women are not as skillful as men. Assumption 2. Women are not as strong as men. Are these assumptions not insurmountable in golf? Is the power game so important in golf, such that touch and precision cannot overcome it? I think the answer is no. I would personally love to see a mixed tournament. I'd actually watch golf if this were to happen.

posted by worldcup2002 at 06:15 PM on January 25, 2003

Worldcup, if you hold all other things equal, yes a power game will tip the balance. If your drive consistently goes farther than an opponent, you are always hitting your second (and every subsequent) shot with a higher and more accurate club. Yes deft precision and touch can overcome power in a given round, perhaps even in a given tournament, but over a season power will profer a huge advantage. And if a woman is going to play an entire season in the men's tour with this handicap, it will potentially cost her millions and millions of dollars.

posted by vito90 at 08:29 PM on January 25, 2003

Guess I don't know that much about golf. It was fun speculating, tho. Then again, who ever thought women would start serving at 100+ mph? Who thought women would be able to dunk? Women in golf are small now, but who says they won't get bigger? I still believe that, in pro golf vs other pro sports, physicality is even less of an issue than mental strength and physical finesse. John Daly could whack the ball like a mofo, but where is he now?

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:40 PM on January 25, 2003

Then again, in an ESPN magazine interview with Dan Patrick, Karrie Webb agrees with vito90:

DP: Would you like to play on the men's tour? KW: I don't think so. I'm quite happy with who I am. DP: But for some reason, when we look at great female athletes, we wonder how well they would do if they played on the men's tour, whether it's Venus and Serena Williams or you and Annika Sorenstam. Do you take offense to that or is it a compliment to you? KW: I think it's a compliment because, obviously, the PGA Tour right now is one of the most focused things on television and ... it intrigues a lot of people -- and to be compared to the men is great. It's hard to compare women and men. I think that the best on the LPGA are just as good as the men on the PGA. The only place that we're lacking is physical strength, so I don't think we could compete week in and week out against the men on their courses because we don't hit the ball far enough. But if you set up courses that are equal -- you know, we're hitting a 7-iron and they're hitting a 7-iron -- I think we're just as good as they are. DP: OK, so if you and Tiger Woods played a par-3 course and every hole is 120 yards, how would you fare? KW: I think I wouldn't do too badly. ... What I'm getting at is that the best on the LPGA can hit a 7-iron as close as the best on the PGA.

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:55 PM on January 25, 2003

UPDATE:Let Sorenstam play with us, says Tiger
New York: Tiger Woods wants to see Annika Sorenstam play a US PGA Tour event - but he thinks the Greater Milwaukee Open is one of only a few tournaments in which she could be competitive.
As long as it's not the Masters, eh Tiger? Story Here

posted by vito90 at 08:07 AM on January 30, 2003

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