Editor Emma Ballard speaks to LET CEO Alexandra Armas, about the 2024 season ahead, the LPGA alliance and the future of women's professional golf
Welcome to our new 12-part series Inside the LET. Each month we'll be hearing from someone within the Ladies European Tour, to gain a better insight into the tour, the large number of stakeholders and partners involved and what it really takes to run a global professional women's golf tour.
There is no better place to start than right at the top with LET CEO Alexandra Armas.
Firstly, how much are you looking forward to your fifth season as CEO?
I can barely believe that this will be my fifth season as CEO. How quickly time flies! Having gone through Covid and the continued disruption afterwards, it feels like we are now in a good place. As we enter 2024, we’re all extremely excited about the competition to come in the year ahead and the exceptionally high level of talent that our players have. The standard of golf will be incredibly high and especially in this Solheim Cup and Olympic Golf year.
What does an average day in the life of the LET CEO look like?
It varies. There are two big areas: one side is the day-to-day, working with our team, our partners and the strategic processes. There is the other side, which is being on the road, networking, connecting with partners and building relationships. A lot of what we do is based on strong relationships with our partners, so there are the two sides to balance: the office side and the travel aspect.
Let’s look at the 2024 schedule. It’s great to see Australia back after a year’s hiatus. A popular location for LET players, which we’re sure you expect to be well supported. How important was it to get back down under?
We have excellent long-standing relationships with our colleagues in Australia and have had numerous tournaments down under throughout many years. With Covid, the tournaments couldn’t happen, but it’s important for us to offer our members playing opportunities at each end of the European season and we’ve always had great players from Australia. We work closely with the WPGA and we are pleased to be able to offer opportunities for our international players around the globe.
What feedback have you received from LET members with regard to the season ahead?
We’ve just had the off-season and haven’t really seen the players, so it will be interesting to sit down with our players when our season gets underway in Kenya and then at our next meeting in Morocco, which is the third event of year. Generally, I feel that the players have been happy for the last few years with how the schedule has been evolving.
Twenty five LET events will be televised this year, either via live feed or highlights packages. How important has it been for the LET to raise the visibility of its members?
It’s hugely important to have that visibility, from the events and the event sponsors’ perspective, to deliver value. It’s also hugely valuable from the athletes’ perspective, to drive their individual brands and recognisability, which will lead to sponsor opportunities. We have players like Diksha Dagar, who recently won the prestigious Arjuna award, from the Sports Ministry of India. These things happen because of the visibility and it’s hugely important that our athletes are known.
The Paris Summer Olympics kick starts a run of big events on the LET schedule. Does an Olympics on European soil mean more to you and will you be attending?
Considering that the Olympics will be in our time zone, we expect that our fans will have the opportunity for more interaction with the golf events and athletes and we know that the Olympics give an enormous profile to sport, so that should benefit our athletes and women’s golf in Europe.
With the AIG Women’s Open in St Andrews this year, do you see this as a significant moment for women’s golf being at “the home of golf” with all the changes and advancements in the women’s professional game since the Major was last there a decade ago?
The Old Course at St Andrews is an iconic venue and for the AIG Women’s Open to be played there elevates the event. I think in general, for a women’s golf event to be played at any iconic venue, as we saw with the U.S. Women’s Open going to Pebble Beach, attracts a new set of fans who know the venue. They may not follow the women’s game, but playing at these venues will attract a wider audience.
Another Solheim Cup year! Europe won with very little support in 2021 due to Covid restrictions, do you expect a much stronger European fan presence in Gainesville, Virginia?
In 2021, the European fans were sparse, and I think the European players did very well to control their emotions playing in front of a gallery that wasn’t that supportive. The crowds are the 13th team player, and I would expect that more Europeans will travel this time, with the venue being on the East Coast. However, I’m sure that there will be more U.S. fans, who will come out strong, loud and ready to cheer.
We hear that a merger with the LPGA is off for the time being. How will the strategic alliance work this year to drive growth and playing opportunities for both tours?
We have a great collaboration with the LPGA. We have been in a joint venture partnership for four years and have achieved a lot. We work together very closely and our organisations are very aligned on what we want to achieve, which is to grow the women’s game, to find pathways for the best players to get to the top and we continue to look at opportunities that will fulfil the objectives of our partnership.
We really enjoyed watching the Grant Thornton Invitational in December. Would you like to see a mixed team event coming to the LET in the future?
The opportunity of playing alongside other Tours, from the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour, Asian Tour and now the Champions Tour, in Morocco, widens the opportunity for the women’s game to get more attention and gain new audiences. It’s a balance of playing opportunities for our members with an event that can drive viewership and audiences. Events such as the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed are excellent and there is the opportunity for us to grow on the back of these events.
In your opinion, what has changed the most in the business of women’s professional golf in your time as CEO?
The credibility of women’s sport and the interest from the corporate world, the understanding of the quality of the athletes, I think there is a much greater respect for the talent of the athletes and we see a growing trend in the increased following for all women’s sports. If nobody respects the sport then you are not going to be able to overcome the challenge, so that respect is a big driving force.
Can you give us three reasons why brands and businesses should invest in women’s golf?
The athletes are very talented and great at what they do. The sport is unique in that it’s so approachable and the fans can get really close to the players. At a corporate level, the value that we are now generating through TV and other platforms, it’s a very cost-efficient investment into professional sport.
What is your prediction for women’s golf in 2024?
New talent! I’m amazed at the extraordinary level of these athletes who come through every year and showcase a higher performance level and the very best of the game. I’m expecting this year to be the same.
Keep up to date with all that's going on at the Ladies European Tour by visiting their website and following along via Facebook, Instagram, X and TikTok. Plus all the latest tour news, views and interviews right here with Women & Golf.
Next month we speak to Pauli van Meersbergen, Tournament Director of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open - we'll find out what the role entails, take a look back on the first tournament of the year and the unique challenge of having giraffes and zebras roaming the course!