In The Long Run This Will Make Women Run

By Adam BarrMay 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
Think what you want about Annika Sorenstam playing in a PGA Tour event. But ask yourself: Do you care what happens to golf in this country?
 
The whole inane anti-Annika reaction is the second half of a one-two punch sure to knock out any interest women had in getting into the game. Independent of the right or wrong of the issues, the Martha Burk-Augusta membership flap laid a sticky varnish of exclusivity over golfs reputation, and the reaction of Vijay Singh, Nick Price and others to Sorenstams sponsorship exemption into the Bank of America Colonial makes it smell even worse.
 
Sure, a reasonable woman might see these episodes as isolated instances. Augusta is a special breed of private club, not the representative of all private clubs. And Price and Singh are only two players, not all of them.
 
But to even the most reasonable mental palate, theres a bad taste here for women who are looking at golf.
 
Oh, you dont think so? Id take another look. Women in the country are keenly attuned to any whiff of inequality in sports. Its the natural backlash from generations of being relegated to second-class-citizen status in so many things, sports included. And while great strides have been made in the last few decades, there is a long way to go. Within that notion, the most important thing is that women themselves feel there is a long way to go.
 
A couple of cultural examples:
 
1) My wife, an ardent golfer and enthusiastic athlete, received in the mail a catalog for workout clothing from a company that calls itself Title Nine Sports. If separatism of this ilk precedes a controversy, there cant be much hope for harmony.
 
2) About ten years ago, my wife invited me to join her at an Executive Womens Golf League outing. She assured me that it was not unusual for golfing husbands to come along. But when the tee groupings were made, a woman in our group took the organizers aside while I watched and said she refused to play with me. I had never met her. As it was reported to me (she wouldnt even meet me or speak to me), she simply decided that playing with any man would be too intimidating. Instead of giving me a chance, she would rather have insulted me by stereotyping me as all the nasty male golfers she had ever known.
 
As you can tell, that second one has stuck in my craw for a decade. Beyond the unfathomable stupidity and meanness of committing against men the same stereotyping sin that men have committed against women, the episode confirmed a seemingly hopeless situation for women in this game. I dont doubt that she had had unpleasant experiences with other male golfers. But were they bad enough to suspend the social contract to the extent she felt she had to, knowing nothing about me except my maleness? If we had been in a group of friends meeting for dinner and she hadnt yet met me, would she insist that I leave the restaurant?
 
Im not angling for sympathy, just trying to show the depth of the problem golf faces. And when otherwise decent and intelligent PGA Tour players behave like dolts, matters only get worse. Instead of welcoming Sorenstam as they should and being examples to golfers (especially juniors) all over the world, Vijay Singh and Nick Price come off as misogynists in Sans-a-Belts.
 
One step in the right direction might be to understand a sponsors exemption. Singh and others have been heard to say that by playing, Sorenstam takes up a spot that could have been filled by some deserving male player. Not so. As part of the package it buys when it makes its sponsorship payment, Bank of America has the right to invite whoever it wants to fill the sponsors exemption slots. Anyone. You. Me. P-Diddy. Donald Rumsfeld. Anyone. True, tournaments can and have used sponsors exemptions to reward a local standout who is not otherwise qualified. But there are no guarantees. If BOA wants to make a bold marketing move with its exemptions, it can. And those who want to persist in the she didnt qualify argument, go ahead, but reread this paragraph first.
 
Besides, it sounds disingenuous to hear Singh and Price talk about some poor up-and-comer losing out; we never heard that much concern from them before about guys struggling to get on the Tour.
 
And before their agents call me, be sure to buzz Bob Schieffer first. The CBS chief Washington correspondent, dean of the inside-the-beltway journalism corps, devoted his end-of-show editorial on last Sundays Face The Nation show to the Annika matter, all after 20 minutes of debate on a real issue, global terrorism. Schieffer, a man of impeccable manners, essentially called Singh and Price stupid, but without holding up a Warner Brothers cartoon-style sign. In response to Singhs promise to get scarce if he got paired with Sorenstam, Schieffer said:
 
Fellas, anyone who would say that can't be too smart. So I'll try to keep this simple. This is the kind of story that sells tickets. It's got a lot of women reading the sports pages again. It's all over the local news, and it's created so much talk the TV networks are planning extra coverage. Extra coverage means more commercials. News flash: Those commercials are where they get the money for those big prizes you play for. So let me say this slowly. More commercials, bigger prizes. Prizes are good; big prizes are better.
 
The money flow into purses may not always be as direct as Schieffer made out, but he has the right idea. Neither Singh nor Price did the cost-benefit analysis before weighing in, and it cost them. It was so out of character for both of them that it makes me think in terms of temporary lapse of judgment, not character revelation. I suspect both men will think things over and moderate their views, decent gentlemen that they are. (Study note: Price has two daughters, ages 9 and 6.)
 
But non-golfing women, and people who have not dealt directly with Singh and Price, may not be inclined to give them the benefit of that doubt. The long-term damage to the games relationship with women is already done.
 
Every person who knows ' and therefore loves ' golf should be promoting it. Talking it up, making other people want to play it, letting them know what theyre missing if they dont, subduing overblown controversies by just sticking the tee in the ground and getting going. They should be likelike
 
Well, like Annika Sorenstam. She has handled the early week, 528-credentialed-media circus with notable calm and decency. And dont be fooled: Mix the glares of those of her fellow competitors who are unwelcoming with the downpour of idiotic questions from the media, and you have a pressure-packed mix.
 
We can only hope the same brand of girl who thrilled to the accomplishments of Mia Hamm and Brandy Chastain will look at Annika and say, Yeah, I can handle that. Lets tee it up.
 
Well need them to come to the game via that brand of determination. Because we sure arent doing anything to invite them.
 
Related Links:
  • ''Everything Annika'' Feature Page
  • Annika and the Colonial Timeline
  • Full Coverage of the Bank of America Colonial
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x