The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, June 11, 2020
Justin Rose steps up — Interview with Mike Whan — Must-click links in women's golf
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Justin Rose steps up
I have good news and I have bad news.
The bad news is that the LPGA’s first major, the Evian Championship, has been canceled to COVID-19. This leaves four majors on the schedule with a regular season event still right around the corner in the Marathon Classic. It was also just announced that this tournament will allow fans. Things continue to evolve and change on the fly, but it’s encouraging that a July event is still on the LPGA calendar. It’s also comforting to know much of the world is starting to re-open and get back to a new normal. Who really knows how long the new normal will last, and if we still have as second wave ahead of us, but all we can do right now is hope for the best.
The good news is that something really important happened this week that I think will be a game changer for years to come. Justin Rose, former World No. 1 and 10-time PGA Tour winner, launched the Rose Ladies Series which is already set to kick off on June 18 of this year.
Here’s how it will work. It will be a total of seven tournaments. While Rose gave up around $40,000 of his own money to contribute to the purse/prize money, all seven golf courses are giving up their facilities for free.
June 18 – Brokenhurst Manor Golf Club
June 25 – Moor Park Golf Club
July 2 – Buckinghamshire Golf Club
July 9 – Royal St George’s
July 16 – JCB Golf and Country Club
July 23 – Bearwood Lakes Golf Club
July 30-31 – Final TBC
It’s also worth nothing that this will be the first women’s sport to return in Britain. Even though it will be closed to the public, Sky Sports (one of the main sports television channels in Britain) will be covering it. Even though Justin Rose’s name is behind the event, it was actually the idea of a Ladies European Tour player—Liz Young—and a gentleman who runs a custom club-fitting company. Like most women’s events, it’s tough to put on unless you have a sponsor. That’s before Rose and his wife caught wind of the situation and decided to step up and help.
“I am keenly aware that I now have the opportunity to go back to work and compete on the PGA Tour but this is not the same for the ladies and some junior tours as well. I am sad that the Ladies’ European Tour has been suffering so badly. To me this seems somewhat unfair my wife Kate and I felt there was an opportunity to step up and help.” (via The Telegraph)
This is something I’ve reflected on the last few weeks—the fact that the PGA Tour is restarting, but the LPGA is still scrambling for answers and navigating a really tricky road with so much international travel. That makes me sad, too. Selfishly I wish the two had access to the same resources so we could be watching the LPGA on TV this week alongside the PGA Tour during the Charles Schwab Challenge (and the first time live golf has been on air in nearly 90 days). Fortunately, Mike Whan did provide some clarity on why this is the case and felt it was necessary to share here.
“First off, I celebrate that the PGA Tour is playing. I think sports coming back is good for everyone, including me and my sponsors and our fans who are craving golf. But we’re a slightly different Tour than the PGA Tour….We have a large number of players and caddies who are not based in America. Flying to America or anywhere right now when you’re coming from that many locations is a bit more challenging. We can’t really figure out the travel restrictions in one market or one state or even one country. We have to figure that out, literally, throughout the world…Also, we want to make sure that when we do bring the world together, not only are we safe and healthy, but we share that responsibility with the market we’re entering. We’ll be back. But as I’ve said many times, getting back is a responsibility, not a race.” (via LPGA.com)
It’s a responsibility, not a race. Very well said, Commish. This is yet another reason by the Rose Ladies Series is such a huge deal! The LPGA is taking an obvious hit during this pandemic, but the LET probably even more so. There is just less opportunity to play golf and therefore less opportunity to make money, so how are these women surviving if they don’t come from families who can support them?
As Rose explained to The Telegraph, he’s throwing in a modest sum of cash for the prize fund and the rest will be generated from the entry fee. So they are not only playing for decent cash, but sharpening up before the real season returns.
Sometimes I wonder if Justin Rose heard Mel Reid loud and clear a few weeks ago when she posed the question: is golf really back? Or is just men’s golf back? There is not a doubt in my mind that the conversations that her thoughts sparked have made a difference and will continue to make a difference.
When I asked: where is golf’s Kobe Bryant a couple weeks ago? Maybe he heard that, too. I truly applaud Justin and Kate for stepping up in a time of need. But I also hope this is just the beginning of their work for women’s golf. He gets it. His wife gets it. Why not keep it going?
“You cannot distinguish between men’s golf and ladies golf. The dreams are same from the outset, but it is the opportunity and the platform that is skewed.” (via Golfweek)
And his wife Kate perfectly states, the women should be lifted up. Kate is a former gymnast, so I’d assume she understands the climate of women’s sports and how the opportunities are skewed when comparing male to female.
“We need feminist voices to not just be female. We have to be promoting the sport of golf, which we all love. Opportunities in women’s golf are so much more difficult to come by at the moment, so anything that the men can do to lift up the women, they should be.” (via Golfweek)
As Beth Ann Nichols says in her article for Golfweek, the women’s golf world certainly exhaled at this news! As if to say—finally. Someone with a significant platform using that significant platform to graciously help us.
But even more than that, through actions, say that women’s golf matters. Women’s golf is respected. Women’s golf deserves just as many opportunities. You simply cannot underestimate how powerful that is. You never know, this could open the floodgates to other PGA Tour players wanting to do the same.
Let’s hope so.
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This Week in Women’s Golf
Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
The LPGA is banking on the British Open after losing first major in Evian. (via Yahoo Sports)
Boutier and Kupcho earn victories as women’s competitive golf begins U.S. return. (via LPGA.com)
Hyo Joo Kim wins the LOTTE Contana Ladies Open in a playoff. (via LPGa.com)
LPGA restart can’t come soon enough for Celine Boutier. (via Golf Digest)
Cristie Kerr focused on her family, wine business over break—but is ready to return. (via Golfweek)
Great news out of Ohio! State governor allowing fans at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic. (via Golf Channel)
Sorenstam, Lincicome will be guest commentators for the Charles Schwab Challenge as PGA Tour returns. (via LPGA.com)
If the PGA Tour is restarting, why isn’t the LPGA? (via Golfweek)
Justin Rose and his wife announce new women’s golf series. (via Golf.com)
Justin Rose’s new women’s golf series means so much more than a place to play. (via Golfweek)
New world-class IU golf course set to open soon. (via Sports Illustrated)
Susie Maxwell Berning’s golf legend started in Oklahoma, putting her in Tiger Woods’ class. (via the Oklahoman)
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Mike Whan
With the major news coming out of the LPGA that the Evian Championship has been canceled, despite doing anything in their power for it not to be that way, I thought it was important to showcase Mike Whan’s transparency during this situation in his interview with Golf Channel earlier this week. It wasn’t long after this cancellation Whan also put a message to fans that is worth watching!
I. On the decision to cancel Evian: At the end of the day I’ve been incredibly impressed by Evian and the team. We’ve worked around fans, pro-ams, how to enforce gather restrictions. But at the end of the day, how to get in and out of the country, play seven days and leave, just wasn’t going to happen…We were quite certain we weren’t going to get in and get out without a 14-day quarantine.
II. On listening to the players’ needs during this time: I’m not sure my players would say I have great listening skills! We do zoom video calls every few weeks…we have about 300 on the call and you can’t open up everybody’s microphones so we have them email questions and i’ll stop every so often to answer those questions. The best parts about those calls are the calls, texts, emails following up throughout the day. I’ve spent most of my day responding to individual questions…once every couple weeks, we stop and talk to everybody and give them as many updates that I can.
III. On what he can learn from the PGA Tour re-starting this week: the good news is, a lot of what we’ve learned, we learned already. They were very open in their back to play protocols; how they were going to cross borders is relevant to us as well. But their process to go through testing—their real advantage was how to get test results back within 4-6 hours. That’s a game changer as opposed to testing someone Monday and telling them Monday. The PGA Tour, fortunately for them and me, will be the first to go through some of these questions. It will be painful to watch them play while we’re not but we can learn a lot from their experiences.
IV. On the most important decision the LPGA’s made: It’s telling players that no matter how well or how poorly or how much or how little you play in 2020, your spot in 2021 is retained. Nobody will play their way off or on. I really believe they earned what they got in 2019; some players can’t get out of their home countries, some are concerned about safety some aren’t. So 2020 is going to be official but the only decision I’ve made throughout this entire thing that gave me real peace was to be able to say to someone—no matter how much you play, i’ll give you the season you deserve next year.
V. On his message to fans throughout this time: Thank you for your patience. Thank you for following us. And we look forward to getting out their soon…You might be asking, where is the LPGA? Well let me tell you: we’re coming! Patience is not my strong suit and we want to get there too…I have the responsibility to deliver a safe environment for my players, my caddies and my sponsors and even for the cities and markets we come to…What makes us special is that we bring the world together; fans, players, sponsors from all over the world. We’re making sure we are doing this in a way that we can deliver the LPGA in a way that you want the LPGA.