The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, December 5, 2019
Michelle Wie at the Masters — Interview with Mike Whan — Must-click links in women's golf
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Michelle Wie at the Masters
Let’s talk about women’s golf and television.
First, the biggest news of the week is that Michelle Wie will be joining CBS Sports’ multimedia coverage in 2020. If you remember from earlier this year (end of June), Wie announced she was going to sit out the remainder of the season. She had already been battling a wrist injury and was resting off and on at the start of the season, but just didn’t have much left in her by late June. Her performance at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was the last straw, where she missed the cut by 17 strokes and admitted to not being fully healthy.
Props to her for still agreeing to an interview even after she finished her round at the KPMG Women’s PGA. It was definitely an emotional one—so much so that she had to step away from talking to the reporter. She mentioned she didn’t know how much she had left in her, so it’s still pretty unknown whether she’ll get back to competing again. Despite golf not working out for Wie since 2014, life has carried on. She recently got married to Warriors executive Jonnie West and now will take another crack at television. If the exclamation points from her Instagram post are any indication, she must be excited! (Us too).
“Thank you @cbssports for this exciting opportunity and believing in me. Really excited to work with (and learn from) this prestigious team at the @themasters next year!! See you all at Augusta in 2020!!! Need to start rewatching some old Masters rounds. What rounds from what years do you guys recommend I rewatch?? #cbssports #masters2020 #themasters 📸 repost: @golf_com”
I’m really excited to see how she does in April. Just a couple months ago, she made her Golf Channel studio debut covering the Solheim Cup alongside veterans Cara Banks and Paige Mackenzie. There was nothing but high praise from publications like Golfweek, who were certainly blown away by how naturally being in a studio came to her. She did indeed graduate with a degree from Stanford and has been in the spotlight for nearly her entire life as a golfer, so it only makes sense!
“She spoke fluidly but never redundantly, appeared comfortable and offered engaging insights without ever forcing her views in the name of getting attention…On screen, Wie sounded like a veteran of the medium. She delivered cogent thoughts as if she’d been in television for years.” — Forecaddie
That is not to undermine, however, how much preparation and work she put in before making the trip to Orlando that week. As first reported by Golfweek, Golf Channel headquarters sources said Wie “jumped right in with ideas and stories during extensive production meetings that some ex-players have been known to sleep through.” Sounds like Wie has all the tangibles and intangibles to make a career out of television, if she were to officially retire from playing golf. I think it’s really smart of her to dabble in other opportunities now to see where they lead her.
One more thing as it relates to the LPGA and television: television rights! Both the PGA Tour and the LPGA will have to make a decision on who will broadcast their tournaments in 2020 and beyond. For the LPGA more specifically, Golf Channel currently owns the rights to coverage. They broadcasted 33 events, which is incredible, with five events on broadcast network TV (like CBS) which obviously reaches a much larger audience.
What’s unique and honestly an amazing thing for women’s golf is that the PGA Tour and LPGA commissioners are sitting at the same table during these negotiations. In essence, the PGA Tour is “serving as the circuit’s de facto agent” as told by Fox Business. This means that two leagues are coming together. That will certainly be a powerful partnership and approach for the long-term health/growth of the LPGA.
I’ve always enjoyed Golf Channel’s coverage and genuinely think they do a great job. Plus, the amount of live coverage on Golf Channel the past couple years has increased exponentially considering that in 2010, 65% of coverage was tape delayed. In those instances, I think tournaments lose their significance. The bottom line is that coverage gets better and more significant each year, but there is still work to do!
The media landscape today is pretty darn saturated when it comes to the options we now have to watch sports—Cable television, Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, Amazon, the multitude of ESPN apps/streaming and the list goes on. While it’s tough to predict which direction streaming and tv will go over the course of the next 10 years, we know for a fact it will look different and be even more options to choose from.
I’m getting a little stressed out myself thinking about how much is riding on that decision for both tours! I’m led to believe we are in good hands though with Jay Monahan and Mike Whan and that they will make the best decision. Will go ahead and end with this mic-drop quote from Whan today.
“If you gave me 39 weekends a year, I promise you I could make you love Jin Young Ko,” said Whan. “You’re going to get to know her story and swing. You see her five times a year, she’s just a name I can’t pronounce. That’s a shame. If you give me 39 weeks there’s a lot of guys on the PGA Tour I wouldn’t care about.… When they become people you know, you want to watch them.” (via Golfweek)
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! email@example.com
New episode up on the podcast! Check it out.
Check out Power Plays. Amazing insight on the LPGA season finale from last week!
Who is the LPGA player of the decade? Voting is open!
How does life on tour for the women compare to the men? Found out here.
So much up in the air with PGA TOUR and LPGA tv rights up for grabs!
KLPGA team wins Inbee Park’s Invitational.
Michelle Wie joins the CBS broadcast team and will help cover the Masters in April.
How this girl found new perspective through LPGA*USGA Girls Golf.
The names and faces that made golf in Arizona special in 2019.
Anne van Dam successfully defended her title in Spain earlier this week.
Minjee Lee provides some pointers on distance control for you golfers reading!
Hilary Watson, wife of golfer Tom Watson, passed away of pancreatic cancer.
A few great (and deserving) LPGA shoutouts in the ‘Best of 2019’ by Golf.com.
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: Mike Whan
Heading into 2020, there’s a lot of exciting things on the horizon for Mike Whan and the LPGA. He sat down with Golf Channel yesterday (Dec. 4) to talk about some of the major highlights in 2019 and the ways he’s on a mission to make the LPGA even bigger: more prize money, more fan support and, you guessed it, more national television exposure. Listen to his interview or see below the five biggest highlights from his interview and you’ll agree with my sentiments above—the LPGA is in great hands.
I. On what can be done to get American fans more excited about women’s golf: Well it’s already happening. When I started in 2010, the US fan was out on the international influence on the LPGA. Jump forward 10 years and you see people with So Yeon Ryu pins on their t-shirts in Toledo, so I think people are realizing that you’ve got young athletes that grew up and have incredible stories. It’s easy to root for them.
II. On what can be done to get American fans more excited about women’s golf: The next piece is between Golf Channel and a lot more network opportunities for the LPGA, we are going to be able to tell our story to a lot more people. When I first started, I think we had one network tv weekend, this year we’ll have eight. I think if we can get that to 14, 15 times a year where a bigger audience can stumble into our crew, I think you’ll see a real difference.
III. On what can be done to get American fans more excited about women’s golf: The last thing for us is the Olympics; these big moments where the world gets to see women’s golf in a whole new light. I remember Inbee Park telling me when she competed for her fourth major in a row, which we thought was the greatest sports moment in the world, the rating in Korea was 7.1. When she won the Olympics it was 28.1. You don’t really realize what a difference it makes.
IV. On being able to relate to female professional golfers more than male professional golfers: In a lot of the countries we play in, their best athletes from their country play golf and are on the LPGA. You are seeing the absolute best female athletes that represent their country. It’s a phenomenon that I think Americans can’t comprehend as well. I mean I’ll never be able to hit a 58 degree wedge 195 yards. I don’t know that experience and I don’t understand that experience. But I want to know how Stacy Lewis at 105 pounds hits a 280-yard drive. I always say if you’re going to learn from golfers, that’s the group to learn from.
V. On what his biggest challenge will be looking ahead: For us, it’s going to be a better TV exposure opportunity in the states. We have great TV partners around the world but now we have to give them more time. If I produced eight hours of TV a day, all my international countries would air it. So I have to figure out how to produce more time for those folks. For the first time in my 10 years, I’m not waking up every morning thinking about how I’m going to expand the schedule. For a long time, we talked about how we are going to find the 30th, 31st, 32nd event; now we’re talking about how we’re going to make big events even bigger.