The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, August 6, 2020
Takeaways from Inverness — What they're saying about Danielle Kang — Must-click links in women's golf
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Takeaways From Inverness
What an awesome first week back for the LPGA—where Danielle Kang (now World No. 2) pulled out an impressive victory at Inverness over a clutch and composed Celine Boutier. Last week, I talked about how this first event back was going to be a really telling event in terms of how quarantine impacted the field.
It’s safe to say this won’t be the last time you’ll be hearing about Danielle Kang this year and my prediction is she will win another event (even multiple events) in 2020. I wanted to take a look at the Top 10 finishers and quote myself from last Thursday—I’m calling it now: the ones who finish in the Top 10 this week are ones we see in contention most weeks for the rest of the season, if they stay healthy.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff
Keep an eye out for these names over the coming months. Inverness showed out—making us all even more excited for the 2021 Solheim Cup—and golf fans were just generally pumped up for the LPGA to be back on their television. Speaking of which: you should tune into the Marathon LPGA Classic the next four days, too!
Here are the broadcast times from the LPGA Twitter. At the time I’m writing this, Lydia Ko and Danielle Kang are tied for a share of the lead, with a handful of others tied for second at 4-under.
It’s looking like a few players who struggled last week are also finding their groove at the start of the Marathon—specifically Nelly Korda and Maria Fassi, who didn’t play their best ball at Inverness. These are a perfect couple of events heading into the Ladies Scottish and British Open; the top player in the world are going to be primed for major championship golf across the pond.
Outside of Inverness being an amazing track, the excitement seeing LPGA on your television again, and players starting to warm up for major golf a couple weeks from now, there is naturally one part of the week I want to hone in on: the coverage of the LPGA Drive On Championship itself. Yes, of course I’m grateful they got some air time. But no, it isn’t enough.
I saw some chatter through the weekend, including the below, that speaks to the confusion on LPGA broadcasts. Why isn’t there more coverage? Why are they showing the same groups on the first two days? Where are the second-screen experiences, like the PGA Tour has with PGA Tour Live?
All very fair questions if you ask me. But of all the takeaways from last week, this is probably the biggest. The coverage is so minimal I have a hard time believing it really does much to grow women’s golf. As Abby points out, looking at the WNBA-NBA model is a really great place to start. You should know by now I follow basketball just as much as I do golf. So with that—here’s my take.
I would credit the increased WNBA coverage on network television a result of 1) leadership and 2) voices that refuse to be quiet, and refuse to back down. Without these two things specifically, the WNBA would be invisible. It hasn’t been this way for long—where they show WNBA games on ESPN. It hasn’t been this way for long—with Kobe Bryant and Lebron James publicly voicing their support.
Historically, every game hasn’t been on TV, and they’ve relied on streaming platforms like WNBA League Pass, which you have to pay for. I am not opposed to having to pay for that product. But that doesn’t engage new fans and that doesn’t help with interest; you’re essentially just giving the diehard WNBA fans and media a way to keep up and follow all season long. Now the WNBA is tracking to have every game on television this season, nationally or locally, in many markets. That doesn’t come without time and persistence.
All of these things considered, you can start to breakdown and better understand the LPGA’s issues. Currently there is no way outside of Golf Channel broadcasts and the limited network television coverage to watch the LPGA. Worth noting: Golf Channel is a homogenous audience and it’s not moving the needle in terms of traction. Wall-to-wall coverage doesn’t exist in the LPGA’s world. Streaming featured groups doesn’t exist. ‘LPGA Live’ doesn’t exist to watch every shot. It’s hard to create any sort of fandom towards players and the LPGA as as whole when the opportunities to see them in action are highly limited.
So what does the LPGA have going for them? They have leadership. I know Mike Whan is an influential voice in golf and that he’s doing everything he can to get more and improved television coverage. But it is an uphill battle. If we know that sports fans can’t see the LPGA on major networks regularly, what is the next best thing? The next best thing is other players and influencers chirping up and showing support. If they can’t get the exposure on TV—where is the next best place? It’s social media.
The LPGA needs more voices in its choir—bottom line. And once more people start to use their platforms to question coverage; to showcase all the things that make them great; to bring attention to the gaps between men and women; good things happen. You can’t go down without a fight. The WNBA is proof of that. I’ve seen so many tweets calling out ESPN for putting big, season-defining games on ESPN2 or ESPN3—and change happens.
Just want to take this moment to encourage you all to keep talking up women’s sports! I, for one, will have your back.
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This Week in Women’s Golf
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LPGA caddie tests positive for COVID-19, player has to withdraw from the next LPGA event. (via Golf Digest)
Danielle Kang wins at Inverness in LPGA’s return to golf. (via LPGA.com)
Haley Moore is featured in the latest LPGA Drive On story. (via LPGA.com)
Inverness proves to be a beautiful monster in LPGA’s return. (via Toledo Blade)
There will be more great things coming from Inverness at the 2021 Solheim Cup. (via Golf Channel)
Meet Alexa Pano and Paris Hilinski, two young golfers determined to make it to the top. (via Golfweek)
What is it like learning golf in Sweden? Madelene Sagstrom tells us. (via Golf Digest)
Wristbands and lanyards: LPGA’s new status symbol. (via Golf Channel)
Push carts and carry bags are happening on the LPGA with caddies still being optional. (via MSN.com)
PGA’s Molly Gallatin shines light on brand management, speaking to diverse and minority communities in golf. (via PGA.com)
U.S. Women’s Amateur draws inspiration from sweet spot: ice cream. (via Washington Post)
Rising star Alexa Pano playing in her fifth U.S. Women’s Amateur this week. (via Palm Beach Post)
Former PGA WORKS Fellow now seizing a full-time career in golf. (via PGA.com)
Emma Talley to honor her friend Cullen Brown, who lost his fight to cancer, as she gets mic’d up at the Marathon Classic this week. (via Golfweek)
Look out for 14-year-old Cooper on Brittany Lang’s bag this weekend!
How does women’s golf get more attention? Justin Rose weighs in. (via Golf.com)
Riley Smyth is impressing as an amateur, despite two him surgeries. (via Washington Post)
Tweet of the Week
Five at The IX: What They’re Saying about Kang
Let’s dig into what everyone is saying about Danielle Kang following her win to kickoff the LPGA restart. At World No. 2 now, what’s the consensus on Kang’s game?
I. Mike Whan: Earlier in the week, Kang handed out Starbucks gift cards to staff members telling them thank you for everything they’ve done the last four months to get the LPGA back on Tour. From the looks of it, LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan was eternally grateful and congratulated her on jumping up to World No. 2.
II. Golf Channel’s Randall Mell: The LPGA scripted a riveting storyline in its restart amid the coronavirus pandemic. Danielle Kang stepped up in the starring role…Inverness Club, which will host next year’s Solheim Cup, offered a major championship test, with just five players finishing under par for the week. Still, you wouldn’t have known it was the LPGA’s first event since February watching Kang play. She looked rust-free going wire to wire for her fourth LPGA title.
III. Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols: era to give the tour a chance to create a bubble and give players an opportunity to compete. And yet, it felt like a major championship inside the ropes. Only five players broke par. The No. 4-ranked player in the world won on a course and in conditions that tested every part of the game. And bonus: The venue that will host the 2021 Solheim Cup delivered a Sunday singles-like showdown between Kang, who leads the U.S. points race and Boutier, who went 4-0 in her Cup debut at Gleneagles last year.IV.
IV. Ron Sirak: Now, this is what we were missing. Sure, the roars of the gallery were socially distanced, but that soothing sound of a well-struck golf shot was welcome music to the ears of fans glued to the broadcast. The LPGA returned with the Drive On Championship and in Danielle Kang the Inverness Club produced an extremely fitting winner.
V. Danielle herself: I worked really hard for the last seven months…You have to respect the golf course…I don’t know how the golf course is going to play next year, but it’s definitely one of my goals to play in the 2021 Solheim Cup…The UL International Crown got moved to 2021 as well, along with the Olympics, so it’s going to be a really busy year next year.