Just when I thought supposedly “professional” sports writing couldn’t get any more stupid, along comes this.
Golf.com’s Peter Bukowski pens a sad sad explanation of why the LPGA Tour is just a shadow of the PGA Tour in terms of viewership, money, and fame.
Shhhhh. Can you hear it? That’s the faint siren call, of the world’s smallest violin, playing the world’s saddest song.
This isn’t a column. It’s two sentences.
- The women’s game is demonstrably inferior to the men, in every category.
- The marketplace has spoken, and it prefers the higher caliber of televised golf, called “Men’s.”
End of explanation.
But no, no… Peter goes on and on about a lot of things that, to him, and LPGA “star” Stacy Lewis I suppose, are some kind of injustice that should be, might be, could perhaps be addressed. Somehow… I guess?
Female athletes are widely perceived to be inferior: less athletic, less skilled, less entertaining. That perception—the very definition of gender discrimination and inequality—is regularly stated as fact, in the media, on social media and beyond: Women’s athletics are simply less “watchable.”
The critics don’t even go out of their way to veil the gender bias.
But that kind of narrow-minded logic simply doesn’t apply to women’s golf (and shouldn’t be applied to most anything else).
Then Bukowski writes this….
Lydia Ko, a precocious 18-year-old who also happens to be the best female golfer in the world (pause and think about that for a moment), won a tournament last week in her native New Zealand playing just minutes after an earthquake rocked the golf course. For her efforts, Ko took home a whopping $33,000, which she promptly vowed to donate to earthquake relief. Imagine if a male golfer had exhibited such grace. The story would have led SportsCenter.
Okay, nice gesture. But Ko has made $3.5 million in endorsements since turning pro, and another $2 million a year in prize money. That $33,000 winner’s check is the equivalent of a luggage handler who makes $45,000 a year giving back $297 – or buying somebody a pair of Beats headphones.
The writer goes on to cherry pick a few stats to “prove” his case. Ignoring, of course, the fact that men and women don’t play remotely the same courses on both tours. As if his “fairways hit %” is at all meaningful, given that the ladies play on flatter, wider, and less punishing layouts week after week. Same thing for GIR, where the gals get flatter, larger surfaces, that roll on average up to 2-3 feet less on the stimpmeter.
It’s not just that men hit the ball farther than women at the tour level, it’s that the men do things with the golf ball that are nothing short of magical. Spinning, darting, bending feats of nerve and imagination – sometimes to get out of trouble, but many times just to navigate sadistic layouts.
The ladies are surely consistent and steady, tee to green, but even their short games are basically… meh.
Even if you were to let LPGA players drop a ball in the fairway right next to the bombs of McIlroy, Watson, or Day they would be savaged by PGA Tour layouts on the way into the hole. And I’m not even bringing elite-level tests of golf into the equation, like the Majors.
Forget US Opens, where rock-hard greens and salad-bar caliber roughs are the norm. Think about Augusta, which may be beautiful on TV, but is a horror show to navigate for most of the male players on the planet. Stacey Lewis can play off of Jordan Spieth’s ball if she wanted, and she wouldn’t break 80 on Augusta National when it’s tuned up to 110% pureness in early April.
And sure as fuck not with the entire world watching, waiting for her to choke.
Places like Augusta require things like a 3-yard slider cut, from a downhill, sidehill lie. Nipped for maximum spin, and not even 2 blades of grass fat. Even then, a bad bounce on the screaming fast, triple-rolled greens humming at 12+, could send the ball dribbling over the back leaving a return pitch that is now so hard, it looks like Ikea instructions written in Chinese.
You want to play for more money, Stacey? Get good enough to make the men’s tour. Or if you insist you gals are just as good, then let the 126th guy on the PGA Tour money list drop down and play against you if he wants, and just see what happens.
As much as I hated Michelle Wie – back when she used to be, you know, a thing – I appreciated the scam she and her parents were playing on the golf world. As long as you huff and puff, and flirt with playing against the men, then you can get PAID like the men, at least by gullible advertisers. You never even have to make a cut!
Check, and cashed. Well played, Wie family.
There’s another thing that people never seem to want to understand: there’s limited market share for EVERYTHING in the world. LIMITED. And it’s a constant fight for market share. You don’t just get to “wish” yourself a bigger slice.
I would venture to say that golf viewership on TV is 90% male. And I would venture to say that there’s enough PGA Tour golf on TV to satisfy that 90%. Unless you have something that makes YOUR version better, of a product that is already at market saturation, then you better start thinking about “sustainability” instead.
And the funny thing is, all of this comes from a guy like me WHO STILL DOES WATCH LADIES GOLF! Shit, I’ve even spent money ATTENDING LPGA events! You know, they’re interesting to watch. They could all DESTROY me on any course I choose (which is beside the point). Their swing tempo is sublime, and many of them are very interesting personalities.
But gals, there’s a pecking order to everyone’s salary in sports.
NHL players would love to make what NFL players make. NFL players would love to make NBA money. And everyone would love to make MLB money. Except for Floyd Mayweather, who shits on all of their salaries while delivering mostly awful, highlight-less fights.
Complaints like Lewis, and stories like this, do nothing to help your image.
As Denis Leary once said: “Life sucks, grab a helmet.”
Now, to prove how much of a golf nerd I am, here’s the closing highlight montage of last fall’s Solheim Cup that I lovingly saved and downloaded to my computer, edited, and then posted on YouTube.
I think it’s a gorgeous compilation, with fantastic slow-mo visuals. I also loved our gals shoving it down Suzanne “The Rules Nazi” Petterson’s throat. That said, since I posted it in late September, it’s registered 43 views.
Yeah. 43. Period.
Do your best to pump that total up. It might make some people feel better.
Slow clap, you hit the nail on the head czaban, obviously a network like espn wouldnt think of roasting a sacred cow like article of this nature with the risk of sounding “narrow minded.” This article was a refreshing annihalation of another sjw picking a fight with who exactly I dont know ( society? Men?). Golf is already a niche market in the first place making your last point even more obvious. Nice job.
“Female athletes are widely perceived to be inferior: less athletic, less skilled, less entertaining. That perception—the very definition of gender discrimination and inequality—is regularly stated as fact, in the media, on social media and beyond: Women’s athletics are simply less “watchable.””
If that’s the case, that they aren’t less athletic and are at the same level physically as men, then why doesn’t Bukowski push to have them fight men in the boxing or UFC ring? Or, let them line up as running backs in the NFL? Why? Because there is a difference in the genders. This is not a bad thing, nor is it discriminatory. It’s the reality and we should act as such. Calling that the definition of “discrimination” just drives me nuts.
Simply put, if people wanted to watch the LPGA more, companies would notice and money would pour in. If not enough people want to watch – live or televised – companies will not find it worh their time or money. Economics, like gravity, will always win. Until some bleeding heart makes it mandatory to watch the LPGA.
Wait? What’s preventing all these hotshot LPGA’ers from qualifying for the PGA tour and competing for the bigger payouts? Oh, right lesser skills.
You know, low-level minor league baseball is entertaining too.
Okay, I’ll say it. The only reasons I would watch LPGA golf is 1) if an American is winning a major, then I’d watch the last few holes or 2) to see some of the hot women walk around in shorts or short skirts. Bukowski is trying to use the WNBA argument (better fundamentals – but why aren’t people watching the WNBA?). The reason: it is an inferior product with very little “gender overlap”. Gender overlap (my made up term) is where you take the top females in a sport (e.g. tennis) and they could most likely beat several of the lower ranked men. In basketball, there is no overlap. Take the WNBA champions and put them up against the 76ers or the worst D-League NBA team and it wouldn’t be a contest; the WNBA champs would get blown out. In golf, I think there is some gender overlap, which is why the LPGA probably has lots more viewers (I would imagine) than the WNBA. If you want men to watch LPGA golf, then have a dress code that would “enhance” the product.
This might be a dumb question, but isn’t the population of the earth 51% women? Yet the shame always falls upon the men for not supporting women’s sports. Stacey Lewis is directing her anger at the wrong target.
two words: Anna Rawson
I’ve got a daughter who plays Division 2 golf in college, and I absolutely agree with every word. I thoroughly enjoy watching her compete in college tournaments, BUT IT’S BECAUSE SHE’S MY DAUGHTER!! Talent wise, no comparison between men and women. And I also agree with what Steve said in that…. her and most of her teammates and competitors would smoke me if I played them from the same yardage.