An article in the Daily Telegraph written by James Corrigan, describes how the Ladies European Tour was on the verge of collapse until the LPGA cavalry arrived from Florida.
“Meet the Californian who is busy rescuing women’s golf in Europe” is the headline of a story in the Daily Telegraph. Written by respected golf journalist James Corrigan, it describes how the Ladies European Tour was on the verge of collapse until the LPGA cavalry arrived from Florida.
But it also reveals that whatever progress has been made, and there was some, coronavirus has punctured the LET bubble and imposed a big financial burden on the US tour.
The LPGA boss Mike Whan, who now runs both tours, says he has no regrets but adds:
”We jumped in, helped out financially and then the bottom falls out a few months later. Thank goodness we got together when we did otherwise it would likely have been curtains for the LET.”
Whan, a former marketeer for dental products company Oral, has been there before. In 2010 he was hired to revive a flagging LPGA and in the subsequent ten years doubled the prize money - this year would have been £60m. Money had poured in and the bank balance looked good. Could he perform the same trick twice?
We will never know. But together with new LET Chief executive Alexandra Armas a good start was made and in a couple of months the number of tournaments for 2020 went from 20 to 24, doubling in Europe, and with a record prize fund of £15m.
Not any more. Covid saw to that but Whan is defiant:
”It’s caused a staggering financial impact and, yes, it’s possible that 2020 could eat up most of our savings. It’s depressing seeing our nest egg explode but because of what we’ve built Covid’s not going to cripple the LPGA or the LET. It’s not going to be on my tombstone.”
Meghan MacLaren, a two time LET winner and one of our brightest young stars, is a great supporter: ”I have a feeling our tour would be going under right now if we hadn’t partnered up with Mike and the LPGA.” However, the year ahead is going to be tough, particularly for the European players who, apart from the Evian Masters and the British and Scottish Opens, face a few under financed trips.
“It’s got to the point where some of the UK girls are trying to organise roll-ups when the courses re-open here. Everyone puts in, say, £120 and there is a small prize pot.”
Not a happy picture just as the major golfing bodies are trying to promote the game to women as being critical to its growth.
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