The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, May 20, 2021
The NCAA messed up...again — Interview with Ali Palma — Must-click women's golf links
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Are you sitting down? The NCAA gets it wrong
If you haven’t seen the viral clip floating around golf social media, the NCAA has yet again messed up another women’s sporting event.
This time, it was the Baton Rouge Regional for women’s golf, one of the qualifying tournaments that helps determine which teams will compete in the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships that begin this week in Scottsdale, Arizona.
After rain caused play to be postponed Monday and Tuesday of tournament week, the Division I Women’s Golf Committee elected to completely cancel the regional, advancing the top six seeded teams and top three individuals not on those teams to nationals. The reasoning? The course was “playable, but not at a championship level”.
The players, the coaches, and the entire golf community were outraged. Many were asking what “championship level” even means and were questioning why more wasn’t done to let these women play for a national championship berth.
Others were grilling the NCAA for being so flippant towards the participants after nixing the tournament and were wondering if this would’ve happened on the men’s side of things or if the committee would’ve worked harder to get a waterlogged course playable for a men’s college regional.
As we saw at the NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament, it’s becoming clear that the organization doesn’t prioritize women’s athletics as much as they should until they’re called out for the discrepancies. Unfortunately, we will never truly know the reasoning behind the committee’s decision, but it’s hard not to read between the lines and see the obvious disregard the NCAA has for women’s championships versus men’s championships.
Furthermore, the entire announcement of the cancellation was botched from start to finish. You don’t say a course is playable and then turn around and decide to cancel because it’s just not at “championship” standards.
The professional tours have played in far worse conditions for far fewer holes and often change the schedule of an event ahead of time when poor weather is forecasted. This option was even utilized at the men’s regional in Stillwater this week because of inclement weather. You have to wonder why this kind of foresight wasn’t given to the potential for questionable conditions in the women’s instance.
This was poor decision-making. A poor effort to get the facility in playable shape. Poor reasoning for the cancellation. And ultimately, it doesn’t affect the NCAA in the slightest but rather hurts the young women, especially the seniors, that missed out on an opportunity to tee it up one more time this season. How awful to have that taken away from you for no good reason.
Don’t worry. There is a bit of good news that has come about as a result of the Baton Rouge Regional debacle. Upon hearing the news, Riggs of Barstool Sports set out to create an event to give these women one more opportunity to play this season. With Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Arizona serving as the host course, he found a way to create the Let Them Play Classic and the tournament is now fully sanctioned by the NCAA, making it an official team and individual event.
The Barstool organization will be covering the flights, hotels, taxis, and food for each participant and many of the players that weren’t afforded the chance to compete in the Baton Rouge Regional are teeing it up this week.
Historically, this company as a whole has not been supportive of women’s athletics nor a female ally. In fact, it has largely monetized attacking women in the journalism space. As a company, it appears that their main goal seems to be furthering the “bro culture” that already permeates the traditionally male-dominated world of sports.
It’s fair to be a little skeptical of the why behind this women’s golf effort — an effort to atone for misbehavior, maybe? Very rarely do you see a company that’s so conventionally male-centric take real, concrete action to right a wrong in this way when the past points to a different mindset, and, while it will be incredibly influential for the women’s game to have eyes on some of college golf’s best, the cynic in me hopes this isn’t just a one-off solution to a timely problem.
We know that the Barstool golf guys are huge proponents of the men’s game through their coverage of that side of the sport, but how well do they support women’s golf when it isn’t making national headlines? Are they showing up for the women’s game in every capacity or only when all attention is on it? Will ACTUAL change come of this? You can’t just react when it’s trendy to do so.
Don’t get me wrong. The Let Them Play Classic is a GREAT thing in and of itself. It’s providing these young women who had the end of their season taken away from them a place to play.
But it’s got to become a day in and day out thing for companies with as much pull as Barstool (and ideally, companies without a history of abuse and misogyny) to choose to adapt their narrative and engage with this part of sports.
Making progress in inclusivity and diversity is only meaningful if it’s constant and consistent. It only happens if people and organizations are willing to carry on endorsing women’s athletics, effectively encouraging immeasurable change across the sports world.
This week in women’s golf
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Hailey Davidson, a transgender woman, wins a mini-tour event in Florida and looks to compete on the LPGA Tour sooner rather than later. (via Golfweek.com)
Mina Harigae is very proud of her Japanese heritage. (via LPGA.com)
The Pink Panther is back this week at Kingsmill. (via LPGA.com)
Bronte Law is the latest guest on The Amy and Adam Show. (via GolfChannel.com)
Here’s how to watch the Pure Silk Championship. (via LPGA.com)
What were you doing at 14 years old? Chloe Kovelesky is playing in the U.S. Women’s Open. (via Golfweek.com)
Check out this Instagram Live Q&A with Team USA Solheim Cup captain Pat Hurst.(via LPGA.com)
Here are the top storylines to watch at the IOA Golf Classic on the Symetra Tour. (via SymetraTour.com)
Check out the featured groups at the IOA Golf Classic. (via SymetraTour.com)
Here’s an update on the Symetra Tour’s Race to the Card. (via SymetraTour.com)
Casey Danielson takes home her first Symetra Tour title after winning in a playoff. (via SymetraTour.com)
Here’s everything you need to know about Symetra Classic winner Casey Danielson.
What’s in the bag for Casey Danielson, winner of the Symetra Classic. (via SymetraTour.com)
Check out this Q&A on social with Frida Kinhult. (via SymetraTour.com)
Christyn Carr made her first start on the Symetra Tour last week after earning a spot via the National Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship hosted by Women in Golf Foundation, Inc. National Women’s Collegiate Golf Championship hosted by Women in Golf Foundation, Inc.
Lee-Anne Pace has made history winning her fourth South African Women’s Open title. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Here’s a full breakdown of how Lee-Anne Pace won the South African Women’s Open. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
There’s been a change to the pre-qualifying format for the AIG Women’s Open. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Watch Dottie Pepper have a narrow miss with a wayward golf shot. (via Golfweek.com)
Dottie Pepper doesn’t even flinch when she’s nearly hit with a golf ball. (via GolfDigest.com)
Here’s what happened in Baton Rouge and how Riggs from Barstool got involved. (via Golfweek.com)
More on the NCAA’s regional cancellation and how Barstool got involved. (via GolfChannel.com)
More on the Baton Rouge Regional cancellation fiasco. (via GOLF.com)
Check out this cool story about Rachel Heck of Stanford who wants to play on the LPGA Tour and be in the Air Force. (via Golfweek.com)
The Tennessee women’s golf has been fired. (via Golfweek.com)
Here’s who to watch to win this season’s ANNIKA Award. (via Golfweek.com)
Methodist wins the Division III national championship. (via Golfweek.com)
Seminole State took home the NJCAA championship title. (via Golfweek.com)
Tweets of the Week
Five at The IX: Ali Palma, Symetra Tour Media Official
How did you get involved with the Symetra Tour as a Tour Media Official?
In 2019, I was a Communications Intern for the American Junior Golf Association. Following my time there I was passionate about continuing my career in sports media. Through their HR team, the position for Tour Media Official with the Symetra Tour was brought to my attention and a little over one year later I couldn’t be happier that the LPGA chose me to join their communications team.
What does a day in your life look like out on the road with the Symetra Tour? What are your main job responsibilities?
Each day on the road looks a little different but I am on-site at the course Monday-Sunday every tournament week. I manage the Symetra Tour social media page, gather all tournament coverage (photography, videography, player interviews), and write the articles each day. Most days you will find me behind the camera doing my best to keep everyone online as up to date as possible on what is happening either at the tournament or in our players’ careers as they work towards their dream of competing on the LPGA Tour.
Why should women’s golf fans and the golf community engage with this organization and how can we do so?
I believe the more fans engage the more they will learn how incredible our Symetra Tour Members are both on and off the golf course. Many of our players put in so many hours to work on their game, I see it myself every day on the road, and let me tell you they are GOOD! We have members who have competed in the Olympics like Paula Reto and Laetitia Beck. Our current leader in driving distance is Sarah White with 306.400 yards off the tee. But they also have passions beyond their careers. We have players on the Tour from over 40 countries and nearly every state in the US. There is someone out here that every fan can connect with! Follow the Tour @Road2LPGA on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and the players on social media and you will see just how talented they are.
What stories from the Symetra Tour should we be following this season? Who are you thinking will earn their cards this season?
It’s so hard to say this early who I think will earn their card this season. In the first six tournaments alone, we have had three playoffs. The talent level out here is impressive across the board and everyone is extremely dedicated to their dream of competing on the largest stage of women’s professional golf. After a shorter season last year, everyone is really eager to put their best foot forward and it’s so fun to watch each week.
What’s one thing you’d want people to know about the Symetra Tour and the women who compete on it?
If I had to choose one thing, it would be ‘come here to be inspired.’ I don’t mean this just for females, I don’t mean this just for athletes, I mean this for anyone.
We have Gabby Lemieux who shared her #DriveOn story last year speaking on her Native American heritage, Ana Belac who is our lone Slovenian champion and last year’s player of the year, Shasta Averyhardt from Flint, Michigan working towards getting back on the LPGA Tour after leaving to become a businesswoman at PwC, Rachel Rohanna who is a mom who breeds cattle and plays professional golf, Lucy Li who’s only 19 years old. I could go on and on about the diverse group of driven, passionate, and hard-working women we have on Tour, but I encourage you to follow the Tour, follow their stories and you will be inspired.