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What Effect has Tiger Woods Had on the LPGA this Year?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I have been writing about the LPGA for quite some time now, but never has it been more enjoyable for me than it is now. 

 

What has made this more enjoyable with each passing week, is that things have finally begun to change. There is no doubt that the LPGA in 2014 has reached new heights in popularity that hasn't been seen in many years.

 

  • Attendance has been up both internationally and here at home.
  • Television ratings have increased dramatically.
  • Media coverage (newspapers, magazines) has increased.
  •  

Why this sudden turnaround?  Here are what I think are the main reasons:

  1. First and foremost the LPGA now has a commissioner that has made a commitment to giving its fans the best product he could possibly put out there. He also seems to have a knack of hiring the right people for the right jobs, and because of this he has gotten the results that have led to this turnaround.
  2. With 32 tournaments now on the schedule (there were just 23 a few short years ago), fans don't have to wait through long breaks that potentially decreases interest.
  3. Television coverage has increased to where over 350 hours will be broadcasted in 2014.
  4. The "Race to the CME Globe", and its 1 million dollar first prize has generated interest similar to what the FedEx cup is for the PGA.
  5. With 21 tournaments in North America, and tournaments in Asia, Europe, Australia, and Mexico, the LPGA now has fans all around the world.
  6. This may be my favorite reason for the big surge in 2014. In recent weeks we have seen victories by hugely popular players such as Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko, Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, and Lexi Thompson.

I was very satisfied with my above reasoning until I got  an e-mail from a dear friend who wrote "I do feel the media has focused on the women more because Tiger is not in the equation."

 

Hmmm. I never really thought about that. Has Tiger's absence from the PGA brought more fans over to the LPGA? The e-mail went on to say (referring to the media), "I hope their mind set will continue with women's golf when he is back playing. Time will tell."

 

Well that is certainly food for thought, so I went on some of the golf forums around the world. I asked people who were new fans of the LPGA to tell my why. I went to forums in the US, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, and mainland China.

 

I was surprised that the most popular answer I got was that the PGA is suddenly very boring and the LPGA has been a pleasantly surprising alternative. Most elaborated even further saying that they were surprised at the high quality of  the women's game.

 

So what conclusions can we draw from the above?

 

I still think that all my reasons listed above are very valid and have contributed to the LPGA's resurgence. Those reasons will continue to draw more and more people to the LPGA.

 

Will things change when Tiger returns? I think only to a certain extent. Yes, people will still want to see what Tiger is doing whether they love him or hate him. But the key here is that the "Tiger effect" was a positive one. The new fans that came over in Tiger's absence enjoyed what they have seen and are not just going to abandon the LPGA.

 

Tiger or no Tiger, the LPGA is here to stay. I see it growing more and more in the coming years.

post #2 of 14

For me, none although I'm not as interested in the PGA tour as when Woods is competing. I enjoy watching the LPGA and the resurgence of Michelle Wie has made viewing more interesting.

post #3 of 14

Speaking only for myself, a fairly casual LPGA fan, and an American, the names you listed are very marketable to an American audience (even though Ko is obviously not an American). Annika wasn't American either but was marketable to an American audience and I was a fan.

 

If I turn to an LPGA event and one or more of those names is on the first leaderboard they show I am much more likely to watch the tournament.

 

If the leaderboard is full of names that I don't know, don't understand, can't pronounce, and have a hard time remembering, I'm much more likely to move on to another channel.

 

Another quirk of mine is that I like to watch power, speed, and distance, even if it's scaled down to the women's game. If the leader, and often the number one player in the world, is a short hitter, not that attractive to me, and doesn't speak English well enough to be marketable I am not as likely to watch. 

 

That holds true for me in any sport for either gender.

post #4 of 14
None.

I think any uptick in viewership/interest that the ladies have experienced is a direct result of some of the good story lines of the LPGA itself.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by David in FL View Post

None.

I think any uptick in viewership/interest that the ladies have experienced is a direct result of some of the good story lines of the LPGA itself.

That and some of the girls are pretty nice looking ( others not so much) but some of them are begining to win and are more marketable. Look at Lexi , she bombs the ball seems to be very level headed, polite, smiles a lot, does a lot charity work and now wins.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tontj5 View Post
 

This may be my favorite reason for the big surge in 2014. In recent weeks we have seen victories by hugely popular players such as Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko, Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, and Lexi Thompson.

I think it's 100% due to your #6 reason, listed above.  And if I could break down that 100%, I'd do it something like this:

 

1% Stacy Lewis winning

5% Lydia Ko winning again

9% for Paula Creamers giant putt/win in Asia.

10% for Lexi Thompsons win at Dinah Shore

75% for Michelle Wie's great showing at Dinah Shore, win the following week and her general, all around great resurgence. :beer: 

 

Oh, and I think Tiger Woods has zero to do with it. ;)

post #7 of 14

when the good looking ones play well, i tend to watch more.

post #8 of 14

^ hate to admit it, but me too

post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post
 

I think it's 100% due to your #6 reason, listed above.  And if I could break down that 100%, I'd do it something like this:

 

1% Stacy Lewis winning

5% Lydia Ko winning again

9% for Paula Creamers giant putt/win in Asia.

10% for Lexi Thompsons win at Dinah Shore

75% for Michelle Wie's great showing at Dinah Shore, win the following week and her general, all around great resurgence. :beer: 

 

Oh, and I think Tiger Woods has zero to do with it. ;)

 

I've written quite a bit lately her on TST about LPGA and Symetra/Big Break FL, and Golfindad's %'s seem about right to me. I'd also add that the 5% for Lydia includes the golfing cart driving lesson she got from Damon Hack on TGC Morning Drive. Actually, that segment was painful to sit through, but what a sweet young lady Lydia seems to be. 

 

For me, the resurgence in interest has been a matter of getting to know the players. The more "knowable" and "relate-able" they are, the more compelling the golf, and over the past year, I've started to look more deeply at some of their stories. Jessica Korda looks like she could be entertaining if she can get in the limelight regularly. I like Sandra Gal too, but I think it's mainly her legs :). Suzann Petterson is entertaining to watch when she is in the hunt. Ditto with Inbee Park- her run last year was incredible and I think helped stir up some interest. I will say that Suzann and Inbee are not dynamic personalities, so while they're great to have in the hunt as regulars, they're not the superstars needed to propel the tour much further forward. 

 

I do think it helps that the top players are now a broader cross-section of the globe. It seems that for some years that it was dominated by stoic Asian women. They earned that, so I don't begrudge it at all, but for a sport to be dynamic, there must be faces and personalities that are compelling to us.

 

I don't buy into the Tiger angle much, if at all. We can handle multiple sports at one time, and if Tiger were playing, I doubt it would detract from the Michelle Wie story for many of us.

post #10 of 14

It'd be hard not to give the coverage on the Golf Channel a bit of credit, I'm not that much of a "Big Break" fan but it does seem to peak a little bit of interest in the ladies game as they are a bit more visible. If viewers are like me sometimes I'll just leave the GC on and not really pay much attention to what the current broadcast is covering. If it is the LPGA I might stop down and watch it for a few minutes, the Morning Drive tends to have quite a few of the top ladies visit the show on a regular basis.

 

For me to get interested in the LPGA it will be because I "like" some of the players in the field. For a typical 18-50 viewer it is sad to say but it helps if they are well spoken, attractive, have a bit of a fun personality and understand I don't want generic answers about golf. Let me get to know the player and if I find them interesting as a person I might stop down for a few minutes and see how they are doing in a tournament. Clearly Michelle Wie is the biggest example of that for me, she has a lot of fun with Charlie Rymer as well she did a fun interview with Ferhety. 

 

Anytime the "top" players are not grabbing the headlines the media will l look for other interesting stories...so does it help that not very many of the top players are doing much, and that Tiger is out...yea it is a factor, but I don't think it is "the factor."

post #11 of 14

I am following and reading more about the LPGA for a reason that is much closer to home. I now have a 6 month old baby girl and honestly, for the first time, I am looking at the ladies as more than pretty objects to look at and more for potential sports "role models" (yes in quotes because no athlete should ever be a true role model, that is reserved for momma and daddy!!) who she can emulate growing up in her sports life.

 

Watching more womens golf, womens softball and womens soccer has given me a much greater respect for what these amazing ladies are accomplishing.

post #12 of 14

I think Michelle Wie moves the needle for the LPGA, maybe not to the level that Tiger does for the PGA Tour but more than most.  She's a well known name and now that she's playing better I think people want to see if she will dominate the LPGA as was once predicted.

post #13 of 14
The emergence of Lexi and Lydia, the resurgence of Michelle, and the competitiveness of Stacy are the leading reasons for increased interest, as well as the improved management and marketing of the new director. Certainly there are others; Suzanne being one of my favorites as well.

Many years ago, Golf Digest had an article titled "Sex plus Sock" in reference to an LPGA player. I think that applies today in some respects; you have several attractive and athletic women who can hit the ball.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by newtogolf View Post
 

I think Michelle Wie moves the needle for the LPGA, maybe not to the level that Tiger does for the PGA Tour but more than most.  She's a well known name and now that she's playing better I think people want to see if she will dominate the LPGA as was once predicted.

 

 

Agreed. I would like to add Lexi into the mix. Michelle and Lexi, and sometimes Paula, are about the only 3 players I root for 99% of the time.

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